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Penn State Wrestling: Further Along Than We'd Thought They'd Be; Not Yet Where We Hope They Will Be

With the demolition of number 16 Wisconsin two Friday nights ago in Rec Hall, the Penn State wrestling team concluded a wildly successful regular season in which they finished with a 17-1-1 dual meet record, the best in quite a few years.  They tied for first with National Title contender Cornell in a tough Southern Scuffle and finished tied with Minnesota for second place in the Big Ten behind, guess who: Iowa.  With a starting lineup consisting of one Senior, two Juniors, a Sophomore, and six Freshmen, it was even better than was expected. Still, as Coach Sanderson often explains:  'We want to win, but we train for March.'  March is almost here, and with the Big Ten Championship tournament looming this Friday in Evanston, Penn State has a very good chance to head into nationals with even more to celebrate and hope for.

B1G Releases Big Ten Championship Pre-Seeds

We learned from psuwresfan and some readers in the Wisconsin beatdown thread that the pre-seeds are rankings of the top 8 wrestlers in each weight class and agreed upon by the Big Ten coaches in what can understandably become a heated conversation. (If you're a quick study, you'll see from the comments in that thread I successfully predicted the top four seeds at 133, my first successful prediction in the history of my BSD contributions). Penn State has five number one seeds, but also is representing 165 and 197 with unseeded wrestlers, while Minnesota has seeded wrestlers at every weight, and Iowa, Michigan & Wisconsin each have seeds at nine weights. Without further ado, here are the seeds:

125 lbs.
1. Matt McDonough, IOWA
2. Brandon Precin, NU
3. Zach Sanders, MINN
4. Brad Pataky, PSU
5. Sean Boyle, MICH
6. Justin Brooks, IND
7. Camden Eppert, PUR
8. Tom Kelliher, WIS

133 lbs.
1. Andrew Long, PSU
2. Tyler Graff, WIS
3. Tony Ramos, IOWA
4. B.J. Futrell, ILL
5. Levi Mele, NU
6. David Thorn, MINN
7. Zac Stevens, MICH
8. Ian Paddock, OSU

141 lbs.
1. Kellen Russell, MICH
2. Montell Marion, IOWA
3. Mike Thorn, MINN
4. Jimmy Kennedy, ILL
5. Andrew Alton, PSU
6. Kaleb Friedly, NU
7. Jake Fleckenstein, PUR
8. Shane McQuade, WIS

149 lbs.
1. Frank Molinaro, PSU
2. Andrew Nadhir, NU
3. Kurt Kinser, IND
4. Eric Terrazas, ILL
5. Cole Schmitt, WIS
6. Eric Grajales, MICH
7. Dan Osterman, MSU
8. Danny Zilverberg, MINN

157 lbs.
1. David Taylor, PSU
2. Derek St. John, IOWA
3. Jason Welch, NU
4. Colton Salazar, PUR
5. Paul Young, IND
6. Brandon Zeerip, MICH
7. Sean McMurray, MSU
8. Matt Mincey, MINN

165 lbs.
1. Andrew Howe, WIS
2. Colt Sponseller, OSU
3. Cody Yohn, MINN
4. Aaron Janssen, IOWA
5. Conrad Polz, ILL
6. Dan Yates, MICH
7. Ryan LeBlanc, IND
8. Kevin Bialka, NU

174 lbs.
1. Ed Ruth, PSU
2. Nick Heflin, OSU
3. Scott Glasser, MINN
4. Luke Manuel, PUR
5. Ethen Lofthouse, IOWA
6. Ben Jordan, WIS
7. Justin Zeerip, MICH
8. Curran Jacobs, MSU

184 lbs.
1. Travis Rutt, WIS
2. Kevin Steinhaus, MINN
3. Grant Gambrall, IOWA
4. Ian Hinton, MSU
5. Tony Dallago, ILL
6. A.J. Kissel, PUR
7. Cody Magrum, OSU
8. Quentin Wright, PSU

197 lbs.
1. Trevor Brandvold, WIS
2. Luke Lofthouse, IOWA
3. Logan Brown, PUR
4. Matt Powless, IND
5. Sonny Yohn, MINN
6. Anthony Biondo, MICH
7. Joe Barczak, ILL
8. Peter Capone, OSU

285 lbs.
1. Cameron Wade, PSU
2. Ricky Alcala, IND
3. Blake Rasing, IOWA
4. Tony Nelson, MINN
5. Ben Apland, MICH
6. Eric Bugenhagen, WIS
7. Joe Rizqallah, MSU
8. Ben Kuhar, NU

Having five number one seeds is certainly favorable, in that in presumably postpones matchups against the toughest competition until later in the tournament when more team points are awarded for victories, but it comes with its own bit of pressure to 'wrestle to seed.' Anything less than a Big Ten Championship for Long, Molinaro, Taylor, Ruth & Wade will be characterized as having wrestled below seed, and provides more fodder for opponents to criticize our coaching staff's preparation of our wrestlers.

A Word About Tournament Scoring

As far as I can tell, the Big Ten and the NCAA use the same structure for scoring team points in an individual tournament with awarding eight places, which can be grouped into three scoring categories: Placement, Advancement and Bonus points:

4.4.1 Places. In tournaments, individual placement points should be awarded
as soon as earned. Placement points already earned shall be deducted in
case of forfeit or disqualification for flagrant misconduct. (For medical
forfeits, see Rules 3.17.3 and 3.21.) In events scoring eight places,
- the winner of each championship quarterfinal should be awarded six place points,
- the winner of each championship semifinal should be awarded six additional place points
- the winner of each championship final should be awarded four additional place points.

- the winner of the wrestle-back semifinals receives three points.
- In the previous wrestle-back round, the winner receives three points and before
that, three points.
- the winner of third place, the winner of fifth place and the winner of seventh place should receive one additional place point.

In other words: 1st place gets 16 Placement points, 2nd gets 12, 3rd = 10, 4th = 9, 5th = 7, 6th = 6, 7th = 4, 8th = 3

Advancement is described as such:

4.4.2 Advancement Points. One team point shall be scored for each match won in the championship bracket and ½ point in the wrestle-back bracket, except for the final first-, third-, fifth- and seventh-place matches. One point in the championship bracket and ½ point in the wrestle-back bracket shall be awarded for a bye if the wrestler receiving the bye wins in the next round.

And Bonus Points are awarded for particularly dominating performances, similar to the way they earn more for the team in dual meets:

4.4.4 Summary of Scoring.
Fall................................................. 2
Forfeit............................................. 2
Default............................................ 2
Disqualification.............................. 2
Technical Fall (with near fall)........................ 1½
Technical Fall (without near fall)or Major Decision.......................... 1
Bye followed by a win Championship Bracket............... 1
Bye followed by a win Wrestle-Back Bracket............... ½

As an example, if Andrew Long succeeds in wrestling 'to his seed' and wins the 133 pound championship, he will have earned 16 team points for placing first, 3 points for advancing through three rounds of the championship bracket, and any bonus team points for victories above a regular decision, for a total of 19+ for Penn State's team score.

Seeding Projections

Now, bonus points are impossible to project, but it helps to have guys like David Taylor, Ed Ruth, and even Andrew Alton in his difficult weight class, who are more than capable of winning individual matches by major, technical fall or pinfall decisions. If you remove any guesses as to Bonus points awarded to the team, you can make a pretty accurate projection based on Placement and Advancement points. With a hat tip to NoVALion on FOS, if every single wrestler wrestled to seed, the final tournament scoring would look like this:

PSU    132.5
Iowa    122
Wis     106
Minn      90
Mich      80
NW       68.5
Purdue 60
Ill           58
Ind        56
OSU     44.5
MSU     32.5

This is the spot where we point out the obvious: that there's no way every single wrestler wrestles to seed.  A lot can, and will, happen in this tournament of such top shelf talent.  I'm sure Wresfan will have more complete analysis up soon, but here are a couple notes on the seeds assuming no wicked first round upsets:

125: Pataky's headed for McDonough in the semifinals.
133: This worked like I predicted, and Ramos must face Graff for the first time in the semis, with Long facing Futrell in a rematch.
141: Alton gets Kennedy again in the quarterfinals and if he can get by him, he'll face Russell for the fourth time
149: With Zilverberg an 8th seed, Frank will see him early, and we know Frank looked his poorest against that guy than he had all season. Hopefully, he'll have less difficulty in a rematch.
157: DSJ is really wrestling well. He'll be a fun dude to watch get dismantled again.
165: Still not confirmed who Cael's planning on sending out, but my guess is Vollrath, who had such an awesome Southern Scuffle tournament at 157 (he lost his first match then won 9 in a row to finish third, including over then top-10 wrestler Bryce Saddoris of Navy).
174: Ruuuuth. Tho I'm surprised OSU's (the bad one) dude got the number 2 seed over Minny's Glasser. He (the OSU dude) forfeited to Ruth in our dual with them and we had this fun discussion over his (the OSU dude's) haircut over at The Pants a couple weeks ago.
184: Quentin gets Rutt early. Since I don't know what is up with Quentin or which Quentin to reasonably expect to arrive and wrestle, I don't have any idea what this early matchup will mean.  If Quentin can't get by him in the quarterfinals, he'll have to do some serious work in the wrestlebacks to earn an advancement to nationals.
197: Hole.  Likely to be the same at nationals.  Not sure yet whether top recruit Morgan McIntosh will alleviate this situation next year, or if he will redshirt, but it hasn't been pretty for the past two years.
HWT: Cam's a 1 seed, but this division isn't his like some of our other 1 seeds. He could have tough matchups beginning with the semifinals.

This tournament is big stuff for our wrestling team.  We have a lot of young talent and more than a few guys capable of helping the team bring this championship home.  There is also, in some weights, some very very tough competition, guaranteeing that the eventual winner will have had to have fought tooth and nail for every point.  Unfortunately for we fans and would-be viewers, only Sunday's championship finals will be viewable on any medium (BTN, live at 4p).  Reader Kx tells us that will be providing free audio and chat on their site for all rounds of the tournament.