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2022 Big Ten Wrestling Tournament Session II Recap: The Semifinals Were All Kinds of Fyre

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The three Titans at the top of this year’s College Wrestling world are battling in a must-see, extremely tight team race.

Michigan Assistant Coach Kevin Jackson is pumped about Day 1 of the Big Ten Tourney
Sam Janicki

Listening to Cael Sanderson try to walk the line between respecting the Big Ten Tourney while also attempting to return the word “priority” to its original, singular meaning (before we bastardized it to become meaningless in its “priorities” form) is always a little awkward. He quipped in last week’s presser that his wrestlers don’t typically grow up dreaming of becoming Big Ten Champions—they dream of becoming National Champions. Meaning the National Tourney is THE priority.

So on this, like so many aspects of this wonderful sport, we fans take our lead from Coach. And we approach this tournament with a similar attitude: number one priority is get guys qualified for Nationals, and watch the team race with an interest toward preparation. How ready are the wrestlers for Detroit? How ready are we, the fans?

But, holy smokes, this tournament took OFF!

Saturday evening’s Session II Semifinals were absolutely insane.

Before we unpack what went down, and because we were lucky enough to be joined by some interested wrestling newbies in our community threads who presented us the opportunity to serve the #GrowWrestling hashtag, we’ll do a very quick refresher on College Wrestling Tournament scoring. It’s really useful to both understand yesterday’s & today’s B1G action, AND gives us a nice knowledge base we can carry with us into Nationals. And we all know what knowledge does (reigns supreme over nearly everybody—thanks, KRS One)!

(grabs feather duster)

First, applicable to both the Big Ten Tourney AND the National Tourney:

Placement Points are awarded to the top eight finishers:

Image is big because its pertinent: Placement Points are the meaty treats of wrestling scoring.

Advancement Points are awarded for wins that move a wrestler forward in a bracket (but not awarded during final placement bouts such as for first or third place). One Advancement Point is earned in the upper championship bracket (when a wrestler has not yet lost any bouts in the tourney) and .5 points are awarded in the lower consolation bracket (after having lost once in the championship bracket).

The most interesting thing about both Placement & Advancement points, though, is WHEN they get applied to the team score. As soon as you reach a deep enough bracket destination that you have guaranteed AT LEAST a ___ placement, you get those Placement Points sent to your team. Here’s a quick cheat sheet:

Win in those rounds, and your team gets what you earned, right then.

Bonus Points, awarded to a team when its wrestler not only wins but dominates, are a wildcard addition. Even among the sport’s most dominant wrestlers, inconsistencies abound. Our friends at WrestleStat have mathematized a Bonus Point projection based on historical dominance.

At Nationals, Placement Point scoring doesn’t happen until Day 2, beginning with Friday morning’s Quarterfinals.

But at B1Gs, Placement Points hit the scoreboard as soon as Session 1 on Saturday morning, when its Quarterfinals begin. Then in Session 2 on Saturday night in the Consolation R12, the Consolation Quarterfinals and the Championship Semifinals, the titans finalize their separation from the mere good teams.

With my feather duster, I dusted off an old spreadsheet, the shape of which I love because of how it shows the three flavors of scoring splits, per every round. Other resources I used heavily (to both populate that sheet and to write this article):

  • Bubba’s Website. I used every tab in its sheet—the brackets, the bout scores, all the components in the Data tab—super helpful for the oddness of B1G bouts that are held beyond the normal double-elimination consi brackets, because they are needed to fill out and finalize the Automatic Qualifier intel for Nationals. It’s an unbelievably helpful resource and looking through it, I feel I need to see a live video stream of Bubba working his rigs to populate it AND provide pbp scoring in the threads.
  • Penn State Wrestling Club’s website. Bubba’s brackets are cleaner, but for doublechecking my sheet’s scoring, I used its Points Per Individual link; very handy

I’m going to experiment here, so bear with me (and as always I accept non-douchey correction notes). AFTER the Consi R12 & Consi Qtrs (which did a small bit of chronological overlap with the Semis—outside mats 1 & 4 were hosting them, and the inside mats 2 & 3 started the Semis a bit later), the three-team race between Penn State, Michigan & Iowa looked like this:

As many at BSD Wrestle predicted, this 2022 Nittany Lion squad appears to be back to pre-pandemic levels of aggressive dominance. Expect moar Bonus Points from the Lions as this postseason wears on.

That’s already a tight, tight race, but the Semifinals were about to squeeze it even tighter—with big scoring increases.

Let’s go weight by weight:

125

With PSU’s Hildebrandt & Iowa’s Ayala in the consis and not wrestling, Michigan’s Suriano did maximum damage to the team race. His impressive pin of Schroder earned him 6 Placement, 1 Advancement and 2 Bonus, for the max 9-point stretch.

Check out the change:

Next up:

  • Suriano can get 4 Placement Points with a win and 1, 1.5 or 2 Bonus Points with a dominant win.
  • Hildebrandt is fighting for his Nationals life: win one & he’s qualified for Nationals; but none of his bracketology sends points to PSU.
  • Ayala today can get 1 Placement Point for 7th, and the typical variety of Bonus if he dominates.

133

Desanto helped Iowa nearly catch Michigan, while RBY closed the gap with them to within 10pts.

Next Up:

  • Round 7!!! between RBY & Desanto brings an 8pt spread between PSU & Iowa for the winner
  • Ragusin, who looks better and better every time I see him, could have two matches today: a 4.5pt + Bonus oppty in the Consi Semis, and a 1pt + Bonus chance in the 3rd Place bout

141

Eierman was the benefactor of Sebastian Rivera’s injury and tourney dropout, earning the max 9pts in the round without even wrestling. Nick Lee tried valiantly to match it, but earned 8.5 with his Tech Fall.

With Micic sitting, Penn State almost caught up with Michigan, while Iowa surged ahead.

Next Up:

  • Nick Lee vs Jaydin Eierman Round V. An 8point team swing again in the mix. Plus, with the always dangerous—and risk-taking—Riddler, Bonus Points are always in play.
  • Micic will get 2 Bonus Points and 4.5 as soon as Rivera’s MFF posts, and then he’ll have one Placement Point & zero Advancement Points available in the 3rd Place bout.

149

With Bartlett and Storr sitting, and Murin losing to Sasso, there was no change in the leaderboard.

Next Up:

  • Murin’s got 4.5 + Bonus available this morning vs Van Brill, and a possible additional match for 3rd
  • Bartlett needs to win his 7th Place match against Storr to qualify. If he does, he’ll send another Placement Point to PSU. If he doesn’t, we shall weep, and Storr will get the point for Michigan

157

With Young sitting, Berge had a nice opportunity to close ranks with Michigan, but Lewan earned the lone takedown and took the 7pt team swing instead.

Next Up:

  • Berge has qualified, by making the Semifinals and earning at least 6th place. Coleman will be rested. Let’s go Chef Bardy!
  • Lewan has a tough matchup with Deakin, let’s go Wildcats
  • Young also has a tough matchup with Robb. Let’s go, Huskers!

165

Amine’s upset of #1 Kharchla was key to Michigan’s surge. Suriano set the tone, Lewan scored big team points, and Amine kept it coming. We’ve been reading about what Michigan has been preparing for us this postseason, and although Penn State whupped the hell of out of them in the Dual, I warned that it could end up being one of those teachable moment things, and that was probably not the last we’d hear about the Wolverines.

Next Up:

  • Amine vs Marinelli in the finals, for an 8pt swing between Michigan & Iowa, but a 4pt gain for either on PSU regardless. Choose your fighter however you like.
  • Edsell’s really, really stuck, with their only being 7 AQs at 165 and him already being eliminated. So, no funky 9th place brackets available to him.

174

Kemerer, who has been rocking a big ole shoulder harness since he entered this season, has ended his tourney. This is, as you have learned by now, not at all uncommon, and it speaks to the singularity of priority that Nationals is, as noted above. Get your guys qualified here, then hope they can rest up & heal up some in the two weeks until Nationals.

The team race surge coincides with one part of Penn State’s ferocious lineup. As we saw in this year’s dual, at last year’s Big Tens and in last year’s National Finals, Starocci & Kemerer are extremely even in their competitions. Starocci leads 2-1, and we’re not counting this MFF, although Penn State benefited from the team score, which did.

Next Up:

  • Starocci vs Massa, for a big 8pt swing. Massa’s a funny dude. His post-semis interview went a bunch of different places. Looked like he briefly considered playing heel, but shut that off and went positive. But still confident! LOL, I have a blast watching that guy. I always marvel at his riskiness with granby rolls, and Starocci has made him pay twice now when he has. Starocci leads the series 2-0, and, without doing a ton more crazy-ass predictive math, he’ll almost certainly have to win this one later this afternoon for Penn State to earn the title.
  • Iowa is finished scoring here, but can definitely look forward to much Kemdawg points in Detroit

184

Kemerer’s injury and Assad sitting in the consis assured Iowa of a third weight class in a row of zero scoring, which brought them back to the PSU & Michigan pack, as both Brooks & Amine earned chunks of points.

Next Up:

  • Brooks vs Amine was perhaps thee showcase match in a dual stocked to the brim full of them, back in January. Big, big stakes here.
  • Assad can enervate Hawk fans with some Bonus in his 7th place bout.

197

In one of many fun anomalies of college wrestling brackets, Warner had earned 10pts, via winning two bouts after losing, and had more than either Dean or Brucki, who had advanced to the semis.

Dean’s win surged PSU ahead of Iowa, and closer to Michigan.

Next Up:

  • Dean vs Schultz. No head-to-head, but obviously very vital. Michael Beard took Schultz to the brink in a controversial bout during the Nebraska dual, when Dean was out. Like many dudes at 197, he’s tall & long, but Dean has handled the majority of such body types very well. Extremely winnable.
  • Brucki & Warner each have possibly two bouts and could face each other if they each win their first.

285

Next Up:

  • Cass has Steveson so, good luck
  • Kerk & Parris both have relatively easy (for them) Consi Semi bouts, then a ferocious rematch vs each other for 3rd, which could decide the entire team race

Executive Summary

Semifinals are sooo dope. I freakin love Semifinals, and last night’s Semifinals were full of love and dopeness. Such a fun time!

TODAY Session III, Saturday, March 5

  • 12p, all B1G+ Only
  • 4 mats
  • 9th Place Consi Semis
  • Consi Semis
  • 11th Place
  • 9th Place
  • 7th Place

How to Watch

  • No Big Ten regular: B1G+ Only
  • BTN Plus ($): individual mat cams for all for mats, selectable by us!

Prognosis

Let’s gooooooooooooooooooo!