The 2023 Big Ten Wrestling Tournament is scheduled for this weekend in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Today the Big Ten pre-seeds were announced. Sometime Thursday or Friday, after the B1G wrestling coaches have had their opportunity to discuss these pre-seeds and make cases on behalf of their wrestlers, the conference is expected to release the final seeds and brackets.
First, how to watch and current schedule.
How to Watch
This year’s schedule posted at BigTen.org begs a few questions, such as: ‘will we have to switch back and forth from BTN Regular & BTN+’?
The Event Calendar published at BTN+ appears to answer that question with a ... “maybe?”
It’s not showing any available stream for BTN+ for the Sat evening semifinals, at this current time. This could be notable for those of us who either watch BTN Reg & BTN+ on different devices, or who have struggled watching BTN Reg on a computer via the Fox Sports App.
In any event, we’ve got multiple days to get our proverbial ducks into their proper rows.
Session I, Saturday, March 4
- 10 a.m.
- BTN Reg: producer-driven, you get what they serve
- BTN+: choose your own mat adventure
- 4 Mats
- Championship R16
- Championship Quarterfinals
- Consolation R16
Session II a, Saturday, March 4
- 5:30 p.m.
- BTN Reg OR BTN+
- 4 Mats
- Consolation Quarterfinals
Session II b, Saturday, March 4
- 7:30 p.m.
- BTN Regular ONLY!?!
- 4 Mats?
- Championship Semifinals
Session III, Sunday, March 5
- BTN+ Only
- 3 Mats
- Consolation Semifinals
- 7th Place
Session IV, Sunday, March 5
- 4:30 p.m.
- 3 Mats
- Championship Finals, BTN Regular Only
- 3rd & 5th Place, BTN+
Next, weight-by-weights. The number one priority for this tournament is to remain healthy while qualifying all 10 grapplers for Nationals. It would also be fun to win the whole thing.
Let’s get after it!
Wait, one other note! The brackets I used below were originally and artisanally crafted by our old friend bscaff, who has gone anon. I love their layout & intel, and if there’s any chance you’re browsing by, ole chap, know that you are appreciated and that your contributions to this corner of the internet remain vibrant ;)
I populated it with the coaches rankings I took from here (updated 2/23/23). And the wrestler records I got from wrestlestat.
125 Gary Steen
Steen’s gotta win two matches in either of the above brackets, or win two in the 9-12 mini-bracket. The 11-seed’s pretty decent, in that he draws a banged-up DeAugustino who has struggled this year. If he pulls a big upset there, then loses to the stud Ramos, he’d only have to get one more: likely against the winner of Lujan (12) vs Moran (13).
If he falls into the mini-bracket, we’d better hope for Brown to be in there, instead of Medley or Peterson, each of whom tech’d Steen in the duals.
133 Roman Bravo-Young
RBY has three chances for Bonus Points. Including, hopefully, in a rematch with Mendez in the finals.
141 Beau Bartlett
Bartlett’s had a great season, but because of the B1G schedule, he hasn’t yet seen the 3rd, 4th, 5th or 6th seeds. If this bracket holds up as is, though, he’ll only have to see one of those newbies, in the semifinals.
149 Shayne Van Ness
One could make the claim that Van Ness competed better / harder / more closely with Sasso (3-6) than he did against Murin (1-4) in losses in the duals. Will updated gameplanning and postseason peak fitness get him over the hump against either? He has a nice chance to reverse 3 of his 4 losses on the season, if he does so and Gomez advances to the finals.
157 Levi Haines
With a 2-seed, Levi ends up in the hospital half of the bracket. Mikey Carr & Brayton Lee have struggled to return from injuries. Kendal Coleman has put together another fine season, with only losses to undefeated Peyton Robb, North Dakota State’s excellent Jared Franek (#2 in Coaches rankings) and ... Wiscy’s Garret Model? Whoa: a 3-4 loss on 1/20/23.
Haines, you might remember, took Model down 6 times in the PSU - Wiscy dual, en route to a 16-6 Major Decision.
165 Alex Facundo
Facundo’s then-banged-up knee kept him out of the challenge with Hamiti, but he’s beaten Kharchla 4-1. Can he do so again, to earn a fresh attempt at Wiscy’s All-American funk master?
174 Carter Starocci
Here’s another weight with multiple guys in the top-5 seeds that the Penn State wrestler has not seen this year.
Man, who else is rooting for a win by the 5-seed, Edmund Ruth?
184 Aaron Brooks
This is a Bonus Tourney for Aaron Brooks. Tuneup, tuneup, until a likely rematch with the imminently likeable Buckeye, Kaleb Romero, who I hope is once again healthy.
197 Max Dean
Dean could see a newbie in Round 1, if Minny’s Foy can overtake Amos, but it’ll likely be a familiar foe in the semis (Warner or Caffey). Make it to the finals, and he could again see someone fresh, in Allred or Braunagel.
285 Greg Kerkvliet
Kerkvliet has improved a lot this season. It’s certainly helped that he’s been healthy and carrying good weight. His double-leg attacks look almost unstoppable, and he’s taken a good bit of sloppiness out of his mat wrestling. Against Cassioppi he’ll have to continue to be wary, even on top. And against Parris, he’ll just need to be more patient than he was in the one-takedown loss in the dual.
Team Scores, projected from these pre-seeds, look like this:
We know how this coaching staff attacks this tournament: as a learning opportunity. Advanced scouting is at play. Get a feel for a guy you might see again in two weeks, on the bigger stage. Try a move you didn’t get to in the dual season. Unleash.
But it’s also probably time to take back this title. Cael & Penn State have allowed others to titillate their fanbases with it, while the Lions have sharpened their claws for Nationals. This year’s lineup has breadth: just studs at almost every weight. Ceilings are high, and floors are too.
Maybe it’s time to run some game on this league? Break some wills, stake some hearts. Stomp a big lion paw on Ann Arbor. What do you think, friends? What are you looking for next weekend?
(Editor note: I know this is a very woofy pro-PSU post, but know that it is never lost on me how difficult this sport, and this tournament is. Much respect to all athletes, of whatever pre-seed, who are competing with their blood, sweat and tears in this incredible tournament in this tough, tough conference.)