Perhaps no weight class better represents the team battle than does 197 lbs. Iowa, Ohio State, Minnesota, and Penn State, in that order, are the top four teams based on tournament pre-seeds. Those four also garnered the top seeds at this weight, and they expect to fight it out in the semi-finals.
Ohio State's Kyle Snyder beat Penn State's Morgan McIntosh, who beat Minnesota's Scott Schiller, who beat Iowa's Nathan Burak, who beat Ohio State's Kyle Snyder. Such is the circular logic at this weight, and the results here could have a big impact on the final team standings.
He's a true freshman, but Junior World medalist Kyle Snyder fit right in with the big boys. On his feet, Snyder's as good as anyone in this bracket. Excellent balance and constant motion got him the winning takedown against Scott Schiller. That's not surprising, though, for a freestyle gold medalist. What was surprising, however, was that he used his mat wrestling to beat college veteran Morgan McIntosh. And, if not for an unusual injury time scenario which resulted in Iowa's Burak choosing bottom twice in the same match, Snyder might be unbeaten in conference.
Each of the other three top seeds won't lack confidence. Iowa's Burak, as the 4-seed, gets paired on Snyder's half of the bracket. Considering that he's oh-for lifetime against McIntosh and Schiller, but unbeaten (1-0) against Snyder, he's probably not complaining about his draw. Schiller, the 3-seed, projects as having to get past McIntosh - something he's never done in his career. That would seem to set last year's top seed, McIntosh, up for a run to the final. Except that "never", in terms of Schiller vs. McIntosh, is just two dual meet matches. Judge for yourself the statistical significance of that.
THE DARK HORSE
When he wrestles, 8-seed Timmy McCall can beat anyone. He brings a powerful double leg that looks shockingly quick, mostly because you never expect him to actually use it. McCall, historically, wrestles a one-move match. And why wouldn't he, when his one move is so good? He opens with a tough bout against Purdue's Atwood, who, in past seasons, has been a top 10 wrestler. But Atwood's been wrestling injured all year long. If McCall can get out from under Atwood's ride, and keeps the Snyder bout to a one-move match, the senior could give the freshman a rude welcome to Big Tens.
Did you know? Only once in the last five years has the 197lb champ scored more than 5 match points in the final. In March 2012, the 5-seed sophomore Mario Gonzalez (Illinois) emerged from the top half of the bracket, and beat 2-seed Matt Powless (Indiana) in the final, 10-5. Gonzalez never got past the quarterfinals in the next two years.
Upset Alert? Michigan State is the only team in the conference without a single wrestler seeded 8th or higher. But Sparty senior Nick McDiarmid, the 10-seed, is on a winning streak. Since a tight 2-0 loss to 2-seed McIntosh on February 1st, McDiarmid's gone 5-0, including wins over 9-seed Atwood and 5-seed Studebaker. That's gotta help a guy's confidence. He matches up with 7-seed Alex Polizzi in the first round, who, in his last Big Ten match, got decked in 61 seconds by Maryland's 13-seed, Rob Fitzgerald.