Since Penn State will almost assuredly send every starting wrestler from weights 133 - 285 to the NCAAs regardless of what happens at the B1Gs, I'm going to take a look at the 125 lb. bracket and my thoughts about seeding and what it might take for our own Gary Steen to make it Tulsa.
I realize it is a long shot for Gary to qualify and even if he does he most likely won't make a huge impact on the overall team score. However, my response to that is:
- The experience he would gain by qualifying could greatly benefit him next year and beyond, and
- I've got nothing better to do, so why not?
Let's start with who I expect to be, in the words of Jim Gibbons, B1G qualifiers for each team. For the rest of us, this is simply who each coach chooses to send to the Chisler Center this year. I'm going to use Wrestlestat as my source for most data. Records exclude matches against non DI wrestlers but do include FFTs and INJ DEFs where applicable.
|Seed||Team||Wrestler||Class Year||Overall Record||B1G Conference Record|
|1||Iowa||Spencer Lee||Sixth-Year Senior||13-0||8-0|
|2||Purdue||Matt Ramos||Fourth-Year Sophomore||25-3||7-1|
|3||Nebraska||Liam Cronin||Seventh-Year Senior||17-3||6-1|
|4||Maryland||Braxton Brown||Second-Year Freshman||20-3||6-1|
|5||Wisconsin||Eric Barnett||Fourth-Year Junior||15-5||4-4|
|6||Northwestern||Michael DeAugustino||Fifth-Year Junior||4-5||3-3|
|7||Ohio State||Malik Heinselman||Fifth-Year Senior||19-4||3-2|
|8||Rutgers||Dean Peterson||Second-Year Freshman||19-7||5-3|
|9||Michigan||Jack Medley||Sixth-Year Senior||18-8||5-3|
|10||Minnesota||Patrick McKee||Fifth-Year Junior||10-4||3-4|
|11||Michigan State||Tristan Lujan||Third-Year Sophomore||12-7||1-6|
|12||Indiana||Jacob Moran||Fourth-Year Sophomore||13-12||2-6|
|13||Penn State||Gary Steen||Second-Year Freshman||5-12||1-5|
|14||Illinois||Maximo Renteria||Second-Year Freshman||4-11||1-7|
Lee is undefeated on the year and somehow wrestled all 8 B1G duals. He's the one seed and there's no debate about that in my mind.
Purdue's Ramos is 25-3 overall and 7-1 in B1G duals. His only loss in conference is to Spencer Lee while he has beaten Barnett, McKee, and Brown. When Purdue wrestled Nebraska, Cronin did not wrestle and Ramos beat backup Van Dee. Therefore, I give the 2-seed to Ramos over Cronin.
Cronin is 17-3 overall and 6-1 in B1G duals. He has wins over Peterson, Heinselman, Barnett, DeAugustino, and McKee while he lost to Lee. I could see him getting the 2-seed, but I prefer to reward wrestlers who wrestle all of their duals so I've got Ramos 2 and Cronin 3.
I have Brown as the 4-seed which I even surprised me. He's 20-3 overall and 6-1 in B1G duals. His best win is over Peterson and his lost is to Ramos. Brown didn't wrestle in the dual against Michigan, while he did beat Ohio State backup McCrone. Given Brown's record above anyone in the fray that is the 5-10 seeds, I'm giving him the 4-seed.
When I started this, I fully expected there to be a mess in the middle of these seedings and while there is somewhat of a mess, there appears to me to be a fairly decent solution. Barnett is 15-5 overall and 4-4 in conference duals. Barnett has wins over McKee and DeAugustino with losses to the top three seeds and Michigan's Medley. When looking at the head-to-head results of the wrestlers I have in the 5 to 10 seeds, this Barnett loss to Medley seems to be the outlier. When seeding, I don't like to remove any result, but if you would, the seeding for the middle section of this weight class is straightforward.
DeAugustino has been hurt for a good part of the year and is 4-5 overall but 3-3 in B1G duals. He has wins over Heinselman and Peterson, but did lose to Barnett, so I have him as the 6-seed. What stinks about this is that while DeAugustino will have a decent seed, he will not be bringing an NCAA bid with him to the B1Gs.
I have Heinselman as the 7-seed and Peterson as the 8-seed, but could see those flip. Heinselman is 19-4 overall and 3-2 in B1Gs while Peterson is 19-7 overall and 5-3 in B1Gs. Both have beat Medley and lost to DeAugustino. Peterson also lost to Barnett at Midlands. The deciding factor for me putting Heinselman 7th and Peterson 8th was the most recent coaches poll which has Heinselman 10th overall and Peterson 16th.
I gave the 9th seed to Medley who did beat Barnett, but has losses to Heinselman and Peterson. There's always one person who beats a higher seeded wrestler but still gets seeded below that person. This year that seems to be Medley.
The 10-seed goes to Patrick McKee. This, along with where I seeded Maryland's Brown is the most surprising result from this exercise. Patrick McKee is currently 10-4 overall but only 3-4 in conference duals with his 4 losses coming to Spencer Lee, Matt Ramos, Liam Cronin, and Eric Barnett. However, his only three wins came against Tristan Lujan, Jacob Moran and Maximo Renteria.
Lujan is 12-7 overall and 1-6 in the B1G. Even with his loss to Steen gets the 11-seed. His only conference win came against Moran, so he gets seeded ahead of him.
Moran is 13-12 overall with 2 conference wins against backups (Ohio State's McCrone and Penn State's Vespa). That's good enough for the 12-seed and nothing more.
Steen comes in with an overall record of 5-12 and 1-5 in the B1G. That win against Lujan gets him the 13-seed ahead of Renteria.
Renteria is 4-11 overall and 1-7 in B1G duals. His only win in conference came against Michigan State's backup, Gomez. Steen's win is better and therefore Renteria gets the 14-seed.
I expect the B1G to get 9 bids. Since there is no way Gary would get an at-large bid, he's going to have to finish in the top 9 to advance to Tulsa.
So, if my seeds hold, that means Steen would see Maryland's Brown in the first round. Watching their match from Sunday, I felt Gary looked better than he has in a while and it wouldn't be a huge stretch to see him pull off the upset. However, if he loses to Brown again, that would mean he would most likely face 11-seed Moran next. Vespa got teched by Moran in the dual and while I think Gary would fare better, I'm not sure he beats Moran right now. Even if he did, he'd then have to beat, based on seeds, Northwestern's DeAugustino to qualify. I don't see that happening. That would put him in the mini-bracket where he'd, again based on seeds, have to beat Moran, McKee, and Medley. That's not happening either.
But, if he could pull of the upset of Brown, he'd likely get Barnett in round 2. That's a loss, but would put Steen on the backside of the bracket facing the winner of what would likely be Lujan and Renteria. That's a winnable match. Win that and he qualifies. As I said earlier, I know that even if Gary qualifies, he's not going to contribute significantly to the overall team total, but I would really like to see Penn State qualify all 10 wrestlers and I think it would really help Gary moving forward.