Wrestling season just entered its third month of competition - and yet it seems as though the season’s only begun. It’s been a strange year. The traditional “mid-season” tournaments, Midlands and Scuffle, gave us some terrific individual matchups, but lacked any semblance of “team race” implications, as more than half of the national top 10 either stayed home for the holidays, or did something else for a change. Iowa ran away with the Midlands title. Penn State nearly lapped the field at the Scuffle. And we’ve had precious few duals between top 8 squads before the calendar rolled over to 2018.
But now that we’ve cleared two weeks in the new year, Big Ten conference duals begin in earnest - and the cream has already begun rising. Let’s take a look at individual weight standings, through 1/14/2018.
One quick programming note / reminder - we’ve switched to WrestleStat.com for individual rankings. WrestleStat uses math to rank everyone in the weight class, from 1 thru 250 or so, rather than tapping out at 20, or 25 like humans do. The algorithm is cumulative - meaning prior seasons of work count toward current season ranking. It also considers margin of victory and bonus rate, among other things. It ranks backups, redshirts, injured wrestlers, freshmen - everyone, whether they’re in a lineup this week, or not. Most importantly, it is not human, for both better, and worse. But I like it, so I’m using it. And if you’re not familiar with the site, give it a whirl. It’s great, and free.
Other quick explanations of the columns in the grids:
- “B1G Rank” - is our BSD-proprietary guess at conference tournament seeding.
- “YR” - Year
- “WRESTLESTAT” - WrestleStat’s national ranking
- “Overall” - the kid’s overall record
- “Conf” - his conference record, minus wins over backups/freshmen (unless he loses to a backup or freshman, which counts)
- “Conf Duals” - his record in conference duals
- “Quality Wins” - the count of wins over opponents who earned a bid to NCAAs last year (this is approximate, as I’m counting from memory)
Great, grand, wonderful. Now let’s finally talk wrestling.
|B1G Rank||YR||125 LBS||WRESTLESTAT||Overall||Conf.||Conf.Duals||Quality Wins|
This is as deep as 125 has been in conference in several years. Eight different wrestlers have already earned a combined 15 quality wins. Johnny Jimenez has qualified for NCAAs before - twice, actually - and he’s currently 12th. It won’t be an easy climb back into the conversation, either.
Title Threats: 4
Possible AAs: 6
Can Win a Match (+) at NCAAs: 12
Our Guy: Devin Schnupp’s got guts.
|B1G Rank||YR||133 LBS||WRESTLESTAT||Overall||Conf.||Conf.Duals||Quality Wins|
Conversely, this is probably the weakest 133 has been in several years. Only three wrestlers have posted a quality win. The B1G’s put at least one into the NCAA finals at this weight every year since 2011 (JO vs Hochstrasser). As of now, Micic and Pletcher look like the only two possibles to uphold tradition.
Title Threats: 2, I guess
Possible AAs: 4
Can Win a Match (+) at NCAAs: call it 6 or 7
Our Guy: Keener’s battling injury, but stingy defense and a hard ride can always pull an upset. Plus, the only guy I don’t see Corey beating right now is Micic. Everyone else in conference can get got.
|B1G Rank||YR||141 LBS||WRESTLESTAT||Overall||Conf.||Conf.Duals||Quality Wins|
This might be the craziest weight class of all. Only 10 quality wins, but they come from a respectable six wrestlers - including 13th seeded Cole Weaver. Everyone can beat anyone here, apparently.
Title Threats: I dunno. Maybe 1 or 2, depending upon whether Ashnault makes it back? Parity jokes aside, I tend to think it’s zero.
Possible AAs: 5 or 6
Can Win a Match (+) at NCAAs: 13 (bonkers)
Our Guy: well hello, Nick Lee. I see you like the arm-drag reshot, and the hammerlock + figure four + face rip. Speaking of those techniques...
|B1G Rank||YR||149 LBS||WRESTLESTAT||Overall||Conf.||Conf.Duals||Quality Wins|
From topsy-turvy, to staid traditional. All hail Retherford, magnanimous king of 149lbs.
Title Threats: Retherford
Possible AAs: call it 5 or 6
Can Win a Match (+) at NCAAs: 8 or 9
Our Guy: Zain’s won 78 in row, with his last loss coming as a true freshman in March 2015. That doesn’t happen by accident.
|B1G Rank||YR||157 LBS||WRESTLESTAT||Overall||Conf.||Conf.Duals||Quality Wins|
|9||JR||Van Brill (RUTG)||20||13-6||2-2||1-1||0|
This is an interesting weight class. Well, excepting Jason Nolf. But with the return of Junior World Team member Alec Pantaleo, and the bump up from Mickey Jordan, there are legitimate questions about how 2 - 5 at this weight (in conference) settles out.
Title Threats: Nolf
Possible AAs: 5
Can Win a Match (+) at NCAAs: 9 or 10
Our Guy: in a sport that’s as old as human history, he’s managed to invent his own wrestling moves. So...you know...pretty good.
|B1G Rank||YR||165 LBS||WRESTLESTAT||Overall||Conf.||Conf.Duals||Quality Wins|
This is the “get him a body bag” weight class. Each wrestler is Daniel Larusso at the All Valley Under 18 karate tournament, staring down a gang of Cobra Kai dudes every Friday and Sunday. The top 11 wrestlers have earned 24 quality wins - and now they’re going to start wrestling each other. The top seed at Big Tens probably gets an All-American quality guy in the second round. Meat grinder? Meat grinder.
Title Threats: perhaps as many as 5 (!!!)
Possible AAs: 8 or 9. Yes, I realize there are only 8 spots on the podium
Can Win a Match (+) at NCAAs: 11
Our Guy: it’s become patently clear to me that Cenzo’s posterior is made of reinforced concrete.
|B1G Rank||YR||174 LBS||WRESTLESTAT||Overall||Conf.||Conf.Duals||Quality Wins|
In conference, this is probably a 2-, or at most 3-man race. Aside from title talk, what’s gotten into Dylan Lydy? The kid’s been on a tear, earning 4 quality wins, including one over Myles Amine. The 25 quality wins here are the most for any weight class - but 17 of them are from three dudes who’ve wrestled brutal schedules.
Title Threats: 2
Possible AAs: beyond the 3 who are already AAs, I don’t see any at this moment.
Can Win a Match (+) at NCAAs: call it 10. Lots of very good wrestlers, but not quite the top end of recent years.
Our Guy: from concrete hips (Cenzo), to Gumby hips (Hall). Has anyone scored a clean, quick takedown on Mark Hall? Ever?
|B1G Rank||YR||184 LBS||WRESTLESTAT||Overall||Conf.||Conf.Duals||Quality Wins|
I don’t know what to make of this weight class. Luckily we have Bo, and we don’t have to think too hard about much.
Title Threats: well it’s at least two, since the weight boasts two past champions.
Possible AAs: maybe as many as 8, but probably more like 6
Can Win a Match (+) at NCAAs: probably also 8, maybe 9
Our Guy: he’s a national champ. So, again - pretty solid.
|B1G Rank||YR||197 LBS||WRESTLESTAT||Overall||Conf.||Conf.Duals||Quality Wins|
In a single word: woof. The 14 quality wins isn’t bad, but they’re nearly all from the top 3 guys. And the bottom six all having losing records - before the heart of the conference dual season.
Title Threats: for now, just 1. But that’s subject to change.
Possible AAs: 4
Can Win a Match (+) at NCAAs: maybe 7?
Our Guy: we don’t know who it’ll be in March, but Rasheed, Cassar, and Mouse would probably all slot in at #2 in conference. We stuck Rasheed into the table because he won the Scuffle, and because he had the highest WrestleStat rank. Apparently cross-face cradling a bunch of ranked dudes really helps your algorithm.
|B1G Rank||YR||285 LBS||WRESTLESTAT||Overall||Conf.||Conf.Duals||Quality Wins|
Quick shout out to Illinois’ Deuce Rachel, who always lets it rip. In case you don’t know the back story, here it comes.
With Illinois beating Iowa at Carver Hawkeye, all Deuce had to do was not get pinned, and the Illini would leave Iowa City with a rare victory. Deuce tried to lateral drop 285lb Sam Stoll in the first 60 seconds, and pinned himself. Illinois lost, 18-17.
Against Nebraska, with Illinois clinging to a 2 point team lead, Deuce tried to throw David Jensen, and gave up 6, losing 7-2. Illinois lost, 18-17.
And last week, with Illinois trailing Northwestern by 2, Deuce tried to throw all 6’7”, 285lbs of Conan Jennings - and totally redeemed himself. Deuce came out on top for the lone takedown of the match, and Illinois won, 18-17.
Thank you, Deuce, for the aggressive wrestling. Wish more dudes would let it rip.
Title Threats: Snyder
Possible AAs: possibly 6, probably 5
Can Win a Match (+) at NCAAs: 7 and a Deuce
Our Guy: it’s not been the best three weeks for Nick, and we’ve had to drop him down to 5th in conference, if we’re honest in our criteria. But the most important weeks are still in front of him. Plenty of time to get on the bottom half of the bracket at B1Gs.