Our gang of blogging mat heads got together and predicted the Big Ten Wrestling Championships. RossWB and twade from #TeamIowa, representing BlackHeartGoldPants. JtotheP and bscaff from #GoPSU, keeping things real for BlackShoeDairies. Plus, Dan Vest from O-H-I-O blog LandGrantHolyLand. So here we are, with Part 2, covering 165 - 285 lbs. You can find Part 1 over on BlackHeartGoldPants.
bscaff: To my knowledge, there's only one guy in this field who has taken a shot and scored on David Taylor, and it's 5-seed Jackson Morse. Morse also nearly pulled off the feat of not getting bonuses by Taylor earlier this season. Nearly. Then Taylor hit two 2-counts in the last 20 seconds, and beat him by 8 or 9.
RossWB: The only intrigue here is whether or not anyone can stop David Taylor from getting bonus points in any of his matches here. He's going to win his 4th straight Big Ten titles -- that's not in any doubt. Hopefully, if Moore makes it to the finals, he shows a little bit more against Taylor than he's showed in their past matchups -- i.e., please don't just turtle up, Nick.
twade: Taylor becomes the 12th Big 10 4x champ.
JtotheP: In 2012, Kellen Russell became the B1G's first 4x-Champ since Mark Ironside in 1998 (who was the first since Iowa's Ed Banach, Barry Davis, Duane Goldman & Jim Heffernan all did it in the 80's) and the 11th ever. Barring injury, David Taylor is a surefire lock to run his Big Ten Tourney career record to 13- or 14-0 and to become the Big Ten's 12th 4x-Champ. Rest of the hierarchy's pretty crisp, too. Moore & Yates waltz to 2nd & 3rd. Morse & Zilverberg could swap.
Dan: I don't want to sound like an alarmist, but David Taylor has never been more ripe for an upset. For those who don't know, the self-professed Magic Man's sorcery ran out February 16 against Tyler Caldwell of Oklahoma State in a match where he managed a paltry 3-point decision victory. I'm not guaranteeing it, but I'll say that it's not out of the question that Taylor could suffer another upset in the Big Ten tournament. That's right, If Moore or one of the other competitors at 165 is at the absolute peak of his game, there is a very real chance that Taylor could end up winning another match by a boring, plain-old-regular decision.
bscaff: Anyone want to call for an upset? Me neither. [Editor's note: whoops]. I have this one staying chalk, though you could probably flip a coin during the semi-finals and final.
RossWB: The biggest intrigue here is seeing Kokesh actually have to wrestle another top guy at this weight; outside of Evans, he hasn't really faced many notable guys at this weight. Speaking of The 'Stache, can he figure out how to beat Matt Brown again? He hasn't looked very close in their last two meetings.
twade: I like Storley to come out on top here. He had a terrible B1G tournament as a sophomore - I think he makes up for it here. I'm still a little uncertain as to what Kokesh is bringing to the table. He didn't face either Brown or Storley this year, so that #1 seed is a bit tenuous. Evans has really struggled offensively vs. the other top wrestlers at this weight - he won that Storley match by turning it into a brawl. He won't get away with that in a semis matchup with Brown - the Nittany Lion is way too strong for Mike.
JtotheP: I was a little unsettled by what I saw when Storley whupped Brown and even more so listening to him after the match. Add in that all I've seen of Kokesh thus far was his convincing but not necessarily dominant win over Evans, and I'm rolling with Storley. Brown could tighten things up like he did last year and hold him off in the final, but I'm picking Storley for 1st. I dig Evans' brawler mentality, but he's too reluctant to take offensive chances against the top-5 and he's gotta know he can no longer afford that approach. Dallago's had a tough year, cutting down from 184 last year, but he's the clear 5th behind Evans. Remember when Munster won Midlands?
Dan: I'm going to a little bit off of the reservation here and pick the four seed to win the weight class. Storley is certainly capable of knocking of Kokesh and he handled Brown 8-4 late in the season. Obviously, a win here would be huge for Minnesota in the team race.
bscaff: In the top half I'm excited to see Ruth vs Dudley - old vs. new, even if I can guess the result. The best action is in the bottom half, though. Both Courts and Hein are stiff tests for Lofthouse and Steinhaus, before we find out who scores the lone winning takedown in their semi-final. Both squads need their guy to win for the team race.
RossWB: You're damn right I'm cashing in my home points on Ethen Lofthouse here. The buzz about him from the Iowa practice room has been good and there's no reason that he can't beat Courts and Steinhaus to set up a showdown with Ruth. He won't beat Ruth (duh), but I have faith in him being able to get that far.
twade: Lofthouse makes his first trip to a B1G final, only to lose (again) to Ruth (who becomes the 13th Big 10 4x champ). The matchup with Courts in the quarters scares me (Ethen beat him last year 5-3), but I think Ethen comes out on top. Dudley has knocked off Courts twice this year, but Courts turns the tables in the consi semis.
JtotheP: Ed Ruth is so fresh. He's never lost to a Big Ten opponent. Ever. He's a clean 9-0 in Big Ten tourneys, but—get this—he has never scored a pin in the Big Ten Tournament! How can this be? Is his cradle too famous? Is his fresh clean sock fetish a silent cradle kryptonite? Who's gonna oblige here in his last rodeo? On the fence in the Haus Royale, I went with the American spelling because America. Beyond that, I really like both Abounader and Dudley, so again going chalk.
Dan: Ed Ruth hasn't been quite as dominant as his teammate David Taylor this season, but who has? Ruth has never lost in the Big Ten tournament and Gabe Dean won't be in the building this weekend. Picking anyone else to win the weight would be foolish. I don't know that there are going to be many fireworks in this weight class, but it will be our last chance to see Ruth wrestle in a conference tournament, and that's worth watching.
bscaff: Gonzalez might be the best athlete of the bunch, but he's in a brutal half of the bracket. Like Storley last year, I think Schiller's mini-slump continues, with Heflin besting him a second time in three weeks. Morgan has to watch Atwood's ride in the top half, but he's better on his feet by a wide margin, and I think he takes the title, his first.
RossWB: Remember when Gonzalez won a Big Ten title? Now I expect him to lose in the quarterfinals. You so crazy, Big Ten. There's separation at the top here, with McIntosh and Heflin coming on strong of late and Schiller being good all year (at least until the last few weeks). Burak narrowly lost to Atwood at a dual earlier this year; I think he reverses that result here, before falling to McIntosh in the semis.
twade: Heflin has done a nice job after jumping up 2 weights this year (from 174).
JtotheP: Despite the elbow injury that kept him from a chance to face Heflin in the December dual, McIntosh earned the right to watch Schiller & Heflin fight it out for the finals, when he finished unscathed in the B1G, including a convincing 8-4 decision over Schiller. Heflin seemed to have come through some window with his win over Schiller at Natty Duals and Schiller's in a tailspin, having had to face (and lose to) Iowa State's Gadson a week later. Gonzalez is ready for comeback and Burak & Atwood will split. Yeah, all that.
Dan: The match I went back and forth on the most here was the Schiller/Heflin rematch in the semifinals. Nick beat Schiller at the National Duals, but I watched that match and it was much closer than the score might indicate. Heflin threw Schiller to his back early, and seemed to just cling on trying not to give up the lead as the match went on. Of course, that's what Heflin done his entire career; win by just enough. This week, though, I think Schiller gets his revenge and moves on to the finals where he will fall to Morgan McIntosh.
bscaff: Bring back that Dungeons & Dragons die, please. Not only are 7 of the national top 10 in this bracket, but they all, with the exception of McMullen, tend to wrestle one-move matches. Anyone who claims to know the order of the finishers here is full of it.
RossWB: This weight would be amazing and the hands down weight of the entire tournament (7 of the national top 10!) if, you know, it wasn't heavyweight. McMullen-Chalfant could have some fireworks, though. Drawing Nelson, two-time defending NCAA and Big Ten champion, in the quarterfinals is a tough assignment for Telford. Even though Bobert bested him at the dual meet earlier this season, I'm wary.
twade: I hate doing this, but I've got Nelson winning his 3rd B1G championship. I think he gets by Telford before knocking off Coon in the semis. The last freshman to win a B1G championship was Garrett Lowney of Minnesota (back in 2001) and Lowney was a 20 year-old RS freshman and Olympic bronze medalist at that point. I don't see Coon (a true freshman) being able to repeat that feat. Chalfant has beat McMullan the last 2 times they've wrestled - I think he does it again in the semis.
JtotheP: Takedowns? There's a takedown atop the fence on each of these brackets. A single takedown. The whole thing's a disaster. Or is about to be. Or exciting. Depends if you've got money on these picks. Which I don't, so fun it is! I'm an old-head and at this point Nelson is my Tribe Called Quest. So to speak. I guess that makes McMullen my Everlast. Ignore the racial inequities here, it's HWT. Breaks must be cut. Gingrich will qualify, but that's the only ounce of confidence I've got.
Dan: I was tempted to just do this weight based on alphabetical order, but unfortunately for Indiana's Adam Chalfant, I changed my mind. I'm going with the two-time NCAA Champ.
|1||PSU - 140||IA - 132||IA - 136||PSU - 141||MINN - 134.5|
|2||IA - 130.5||PSU - 130.5||PSU - 136||IA - 130.5||PSU - 133|
|3||MINN - 114||MINN - 123.5||MINN - 120||MINN - 125||IA - 126.5|
|4||NEB - 75.5||MICH - 76.5||NEB - 72.5||NEB - 74.5||OSU - 74.5|
|5||ILL - 75||NEB - 76.5||OSU - 72||ILL - 74||NEB - 72.5|
|6||OSU - 69||OSU - 70||MICH - 64.5||MICH - 71.5||MICH - 68|
|7||MICH - 67.5||ILL - 66||WIS - 64.5||OSU - 64.5||ILL - 67|
|8||jNW - 55.5||WIS - 61||ILL - 59||WIS - 54||WIS - 63.5|
|9||WIS - 55||jNW - 49.5||jNW - 49.5||jNW - 51.5||jNW - 48|
|10||PUR - 32||PUR - 30.5||PUR - 35||PUR - 29.5||PUR - 28.5|
|11||IND - 18||IND - 21.5||IND - 33||IND - 21.5||IND - 21.5|
|12||MSU - 12.5||MSU - 12.5||MSU - 8||MSU - 12.5||MSU - 12.5|
All team scores are the sum of our individual weight class predictions - not counting bonus points. They represent placement and advancement points only. (All PSU fans suddenly smile broadly).
Big thank you to our friends from the interwebs, RossWB and twade from The Pants, Dan Vest from LGHL, and our own JP.