Today the NCAA released its conference allocations of automatic bids to the NCAA Wrestling Championship tournament. Let's take a look at the breakdown:
|Atlantic Coast Conference||4||3||4||2||3||5||2||3||5||3||34|
|Big 12 Conference||6||4||3||3||3||3||4||3||4||3||36|
|Big Ten Conference||7||9||7||6||7||6||9||7||6||7||71|
|Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association||3||3||6||5||6||4||7||7||4||6||51|
|Eastern Wrestling League||1||1||1||3||2||2||1||1||3||2||17|
You're new to the great sport of wrestling and don't know what this means? Here's the easy answer. See how the Big Ten gets 7 bids at 125lbs? That means the top 7 place-winners at the upcoming Big Ten conference tournament get a guaranteed spot to wrestle in the national tournament.
What happens if our Penn Staters don't grab one of those golden tickets? They'll have to wait to see if they'll be selected as one of 4 (or 5) wild cards, chosen by a nameless, faceless committee, who'll be looking at things like "quality wins", win%, and coaches' ranking. It's a crapshoot, and you don't want to subject yourself to their torture.
What About PSU's 10 Wrestlers
No need to waste much time here on Nico (125), Jordan (133), Zain (149), Nolf (157), Bo (174), Mouse (184), or Morg (197). Those seven wrestlers - four of whom are currently ranked #1, and all of whom are securely in the top 10 - posses oodles of quality wins, high win%, and of course, bright shiny rankings. Theoretically, they could go 0-2 at BigTens, and all get wild cards to NCAAs.
That leaves three of our guys who still have some work left to do.
Seven bids is what we guessed earlier this week, and that's what we got. Jimmy (#21 in Coaches Poll) needs to stay ahead of Iowa's Grothus and Purdue's Sabatello, and it sure would be nice if he puts himself ahead of some of the guys in front of him. If Jimmy gets the 7-seed at Big Tens, I like his chances against Minnesota's freshman Thorn in the projected quarterfinal bout. Win that, and he's home free.
Geno, 165 lbs
We hoped for 7 bids, but the Big Ten only received 6. That makes Geno's task a little bit more difficult. He'll be coming from outside that range - probably seeded 7th, 8th, or even 9th - and if he wins his first bout, he'll hit a Jordan roadblock (either top seed Ike or 2-seed Bo) in the quarters. Geno needs to go to work in the wrestlebacks, and he'll need to knock off at least one, and probably two, of Rodrigues, Wilson (to whom he dropped an 2-3 decision), Welch (whom Rasheed pinned in January), and/or Sutton (whom Rasheed beat in January). It's not going to be an easy task. And Geno probably doesn't have the resume to grab a wild card (he's 9th in RPI, but is short on quality wins). But he can do it (and, he probably has to do it to make to NCAAs).
Big Nick, 285 lbs
Seven bids here, which is what we expected. The story for Nick doesn't change. He'll be coming from way back in the pack, because he missed 95% of the season while recovering from injury. It's exactly for situations like Nick's that the NCAA allocates golden tickets to conferences, rather than simply awarding them to wrestlers individually. Now all Nick needs to do is go grab one of them at Big Tens. He's more than capable of doing so.