With the 2020 Olympic Trials around the corner, everyone knew this would be a strange wrestling season. We’d see redshirts taken, partial seasons wrestled, mid-season tournaments skipped. All of that’s come to fruition.
The other, unexpected strangeness we didn’t anticipate - a firm reminder that yes, wrestling actually is hard. It had been five years since Penn State lost a dual meet. Zain Retherford, Jason Nolf, Bo Nickal - plus Meatball, Marky, and others - routinely made everything look far too easy. Heck, Penn State’s backup 197lber bumped to 285, and won a national title in his first trip to NCAAs. How hard could wrestling actually be for anyone wearing a blue and white singlet? You just jog out there, head snap, pick an ankle, flip the opponent over, and pin him. Easy peasy.
Oh, that’s right - they’re freaks of nature, and wrestling actually is really, really hard. We’d forgotten about that.
Let’s take a look at the Big Ten Wrestling standings. As a reminder, these are BSD proprietary rankings, which means they’re worthless. But the “rank” column is our best guesstimate to how the respective fields would be seeded at the conference tournament. Each table also contains a column for “quality wins”. Those are wins over wrestlers in last year’s NCAA tournament (or, wins over known freshmen studs). In February we’ll explain how quality wins can affect tickets to NCAAs, but for now, know that it’s a heuristic for the quality of a wrestler’s individual record.
Last, as always, we owe a big thanks to our friends over at WrestleStat.com. Their website is chock full o’ goodies, and certainly makes putting these tables together much, much easier than it otherwise would be.
|B1G Rank||YR||125 LBS||Overall||Conf.||Conf.Duals||Quality Wins|
Spencer Lee has yet to win a Big Ten title. That figures to change this season. He just wrestled the clear #2 at this weight - Purdue’s Devin Schroeder - and tech falled him in less than 3 minutes.
|B1G Rank||YR||133 LBS||Overall||Conf.||Conf.Duals||Quality Wins|
Last year’s national champ, Nick Suriano, is redshirting for the Olympics. So is past champ Stevan Micic (who wrestles for Serbia). Seth Gross (2018 national champ), Austin DeSanto, and SeaBass Rivera (who bumped up from 125) figure to trade wins and losses at the top of this weight. It’s our opinion that RBY fits into that group of proven contenders as well, despite the lack of quality opponents to this point in the season. So we’re putting SportsCenter 3rd, ahead of SeaBass. And we expect to be proven correct in the coming weeks. (Plus SeaBass is injured, and just skipped the match against RBY on Sunday).
|B1G Rank||YR||141 LBS||Overall||Conf.||Conf.Duals||Quality Wins|
We took our biased glasses off for this weight, and gave Latrobe’s Luke Pletcher the top seed, based on his quality wins and unblemished record. PSU’s Nick Lee has looked incredible this year, and is a good bet to finish on top. But for now, it’s Luke.
Separately, keep an eye out for Iowa’s brand new transfer Jaydin Eierman. Eierman planned to use an Olympic redshirt, but that idea took a hit when he failed to finish top 6 at the US Open. Also, Iowa’s current 141, Max Murin, is wearing a shoulder harness the size of a 1954 Buick Roadmaster. There are rumblings afoot in Iowa City.
|B1G Rank||YR||149 LBS||Overall||Conf.||Conf.Duals||Quality Wins|
Iowa’s Pat Lugo is currently ranked #1 nationally. You read that correctly. Pat Lugo, ranked #1 nationally. He was the 10-seed at last year’s NCAA tournament, and that was a charitable draw. We’ll see how this holds up, but Pat’s looked really good so far this season.
Immediately on Lugo’s heels are a pair of uber-talented redshirt freshman, Brayton Lee (MINN) and D11’s Sammy Sasso (OHST). Don’t be too surprised if one or the other gets his hand raised at Big Tens.
|B1G Rank||YR||157 LBS||Overall||Conf.||Conf.Duals||Quality Wins|
|9||JR||Van Brill (RUT)||14-9||1-2||1-2||0|
A healthy Bardy Berge can win this weight. But Bardy isn’t healthy. He suffered a bad concussion at Junior Worlds last November that kept him out for quite a while. He made a triumphant return for the Lehigh match, taking out highly regarded (and highly ranked) Josh Humphreys in December. But he appears to have had a setback. Get well soon, Swedish Chef.
Meanwhile, Ryan Deakin’s been putting in work. He knocked off everybody’s national favorite, Hayden Hidlay (NCST), 6-2, as well as everybody’s two favorite freshmen dark horses - Jacori Teemer (ASU) and David Carr (ISU) - at Cliff Keen.
|B1G Rank||YR||165 LBS||Overall||Conf.||Conf.Duals||Quality Wins|
|12||SO||van Anrooy (MICH)||3-7||1-3||0-0||0|
We’re nothing if not inconsistent. Up at 141, we give the coin toss to Pletcher over our guy, Maverick. Here at 165, we go full homer and roll with Our Little Meatball in the top spot. Marinelli has the better record, more impressive wins, and is the defending conference champ. But he’s from Ohio, and that’s something that you can’t just wash off or toss aside. At least Pletcher is a PA kid, even if he’s repping the Buckeyes.
But whatever - this seed gets settled on January 31st at Carver Hawkeye.
|B1G Rank||YR||174 LBS||Overall||Conf.||Conf.Duals||Quality Wins|
Mikey Kemerer bumps up here from 157 for the Hawkeyes. He’s looked awesome, and will present a stiff challenge for Marky.
But, Mark Hall. (We really like this matchup).
|B1G Rank||YR||184 LBS||Overall||Conf.||Conf.Duals||Quality Wins|
You are looking live...at the single wildest weight class in the conference. Nary a proven, sure thing in sight, 1 thru 14. (Though our hunch is you’ll be wise to put your chips on “AB”, young mister Aaron Brooks).
|B1G Rank||YR||197 LBS||Overall||Conf.||Conf.Duals||Quality Wins|
We’re marking time here at 197, with our eyes fixed on March. Sugar’s earned it. So ignore the upset loss to talented frosh Lucas Davison last Sunday, and don’t sweat the current 6-seed. Stay patient, let Sugar get used to the bionic knee the next few weeks, and we’ll see how this plays out in the post season.
|B1G Rank||YR||285 LBS||Overall||Conf.||Conf.Duals||Quality Wins|
As much as we hurt for Cassar, we’re happy for young Seth Nevills. The competition hasn’t been the stiffest to this point, but his record is unblemished. The spots above him are there for the taking. (Well, probably not the top spot).
You may have noticed a bunch of (IOWA) wrestlers near the top of the current standings. Unfortunately, they’ve earned it. The Hawkeyes have wrestled exceptionally well to this point in the season. Ridiculously well. So as much as we hate to do it, we have to slot them up there. Hopefully they over train, and crash spectacularly in March.
For now, though, your top three teams are as follows (with projected points based on these seeds above): 1-Iowa (153 points), 2-Penn State (107.5), 3-doesn’t really matter (but it’s Ohio State, with 74).