2017 Big Ten Wrestling Tournament Seed Projections

By RossWB on February 22, 2017 at 7:33 pm
Time to go B1G
Jennifer Steffen / IAWrestle

Dual meet season is officially over with the conclusion of National Duals last weekend, which means it's time to start thinking about the big tournaments to cap off the 2016-17 college wrestling season. Up first: the Big Ten Wrestling Tournament, which takes place next weekend (March 4-5) in Bloomington, Indiana. The pre-seeds at each weight for that event should be released next week (likely on Monday), but who wants to wait until then? I've gone ahead and done some projections for each weight with the help of our old friend bscaff. Many thanks to him for helping with the logistical end of this endeavor. 

I've only gone ahead and done the projections for the Top 8 at each weight, although the Big Ten may seed more at each weight (depending on how many automatic qualifiers for the NCAA Tournament that the Big Ten gets at each weight). Honestly, the wrestlers who may be seeded 9-14 aren't likely to make much noise at the Big Ten Tournament. 


1 Thomas Gilman Iowa 24-0 11-0 9-0
2 Nick Suriano Penn State 16-2 9-1 8-1
3 Tim Lambert Nebraska 25-5 8-4 7-2
4 Ethan Lizak Minnesota 21-5 5-5 3-4
5 Elijah Oliver Indiana 13-6 4-3 4-3
6 Conor Youtsey Michigan 3-4 3-1 3-1
7 Johnny Jimenez Wisconsin 14-8 4-5 3-3
8 Brandon Paetzell Rutgers 14-8 4-5 4-4

This weight is straightforward at the top -- Gilman beat everyone and Suriano only lost to Gilman (in the Big Ten, at least). Lambert only lost to Suriano and Gilman in Big Ten duals, but he also lost to Gilman and Lizak outside of the Big Ten. Lizak has a worse record than Oliver, but he also has a win over Lambert (better than any win on Oliver's resume) and his "bad" loss was to Ohio State's Jose Rodriguez (ranked in the Top 20 at one point), while Oliver's "bad" loss was to Illinois' Travis Piotrowski, which is a worse loss. Youtsey is a difficult one to seed given his small number of matches (he was actually retired earlier this season but returned to action when Michigan suffered an injury crisis at 125), but that seems to weigh against him a bit, as does his loss to Michigan State's Mitch Rogaliner. 

This weight should boil down to Gilman-Suriano II in the finals (Gilman narrowly won their first encounter, 3-2), although that could depend on Suriano's health -- he injured an ankle during the Penn State-Oklahoma State dual on Sunday and had to injury default out of the match. It remains to be seen what condition his ankle will be in 10 days from now. If Lizak gets a 4/5 seed (as seems likely), Gilman could see him in the semifinals, which could be interesting -- Lizak had him on the ropes for two periods, before getting blown out (and pinned) in the third. 


1 Nathan Tomasello Ohio State 16-0 9-0 9-0
2 Eric Montoya Nebraska 23-2 8-2 7-2
3 Cory Clark Iowa 12-2 6-1 5-1
4 Zane Richards Illinois 21-2 7-2 7-1
5 Stevan Micic Michigan 20-4 9-3 7-2
6 Billy Rappo Maryland 13-11 7-3 5-2
7 Luke Welch Purdue 18-11 5-7 5-4
8 Mitch McKee Minnesota 17-15 4-6 4-5

Tomasello is a no-brainer as the 1 seed, thanks to his undefeated record. Montoya is a solid bet as the 2 seed, given that he has wins over Clark (at the dual) and Richards (at Midlands), although he also has a head-scratching loss to Micic. The big question mark is Clark or Richards at the 3 seed; Clark has the better conference record, but the weaker overall record due to missing several matches due to injury. Richards' only losses were to Montoya and Tomasello this year; he and Clark never faced off. I gave Clark the nod by virtue of only having one loss against Big Ten competition this year, but I would not be surprised if Richards earned the 3 seed instead. 

The 3/4 seed distinction is significant in that a 4 seed would mean seeing Tomasello in the semifinals rather than the finals, although realistically for Clark to repeat as Big Ten champion he's going to have to beat Richards/Montoya and Tomasello to do -- the only question is what order he has to do it in. A 4 seed could also mean a match with Micic in the quarters; Clark edged him via narrow 2-0 decision earlier this year.


1 Anthony Ashnault Rutgers 26-3 9-0 9-0
2 Colton McCrystal Nebraska 26-8 7-2 7-2
3 Jimmy Gulibon Penn State 13-7 7-2 7-2
4 Tommy Thorn Minnesota 15-4 5-2 5-2
5 Luke Pletcher Ohio State 23-6 7-3 6-3
6 Topher Carton Iowa 12-6 6-3 6-3
7 Javier Gasca Michigan State 22-7 6-3 6-3
8 Sal Profaci Michigan 13-12 4-6 4-5

Another weight with an undefeated wrestler at the top, which makes things easy there. McCrystal has losses to Carton and Pletcher, but he also beat Gulibon and Thorn. Gulibon's only B1G losses were against Ashnault and McCrystal. Thorn's only losses were to Gulibon and McCrystal. Pletcher lost to Ashnault, Gulibon, and Thorn. Carton beat McCrystal, but lost to Gulibon, Thorn, and Pletcher; he was close in all three matches, though, and could easily be the 2 or 3 seed here if he had just won a few of those matches. 

If these seeds hold, Carton could get a quarterfinal rematch with Gulibon; he was beating him after two periods in their first encounter, before Gulibon made a furious comeback and defeated him in the third. A rematch wouldn't be so bad, although Gulibon is also wrestling very well lately and a match-up with Thorn of Pletcher might be preferable. 


1 Zain Retherford Penn State 19-0 10-0 9-0
2 Brandon Sorensen Iowa 22-3 8-1 8-1
3 Micah Jordan Ohio State 25-2 5-2 5-2
4 Alfred Bannister Maryland 19-3 4-3 4-1
5 Ken Theobold Rutgers 18-7 5-3 5-3
6 Eric Barone Illinois 9-6 7-3 6-3
7 Andrew Crone Wisconsin 25-9 7-4 5-4
8 Chris Perez Indiana 9-8 5-5 5-4

Zain's dominance makes the top easy here. Sorensen's loss to Edinboro's Pat Lugo over the weekend shouldn't have any impact on his Big Ten seeding and he beat every Big Ten opponent he faced except Retherford. Jordan lost to Retherford and Sorensen. Bannister missed several matches, but he did beat Theobold and Barone. Theobold lost to Retherford, Jordan, and Bannister. Barone also lost to Retherford, Jordan, and Bannister. 

Per these seeds, Sorensen could have a quarterfinal showdown with Crone, who has wrestled him fairly closely (losses of 9-5 and 6-3 over the last two seasons), before a semifinal match with Jordan (who Sorensen beat just 2-0 earlier this year), and a possible finals match-up with Retherford. That would be a challenging path for Sorensen. 


1 Jason Nolf Penn State 19-0 9-0 9-0
2 Michael Kemerer Iowa 25-1 10-1 8-1
3 Tyler Berger Nebraska 26-3 7-3 6-2
4 Kyle Langenderfer Illinois 21-5 7-3 7-2
5 Jake Short Minnesota 20-10 5-5 5-4
6 Brian Murphy Michigan 13-6 5-4 5-4
7 TJ Ruschell Wisconsin 14-6 4-2 4-2
8 John Van Brill Rutgers 19-9 4-4 4-3

Nolf beat everyone he faced, so he's the easy 1 seed. Kemerer beat everyone except Nolf, including two wins over Berger. Berger's only losses were to Nolf and Kemerer. Langenderfer avoided Kemerer and Berger, and lost to Nolf and Van Brill. Short beat Murphy, but lost to Kemerer, Berger, (x2), Ruschell, and Nolf. Murphy lost to Langenderfer, Kemerer, Berger, and Short. Ruschell and Van Brill have a few decent wins between them, but also some bad losses (and both largely missed the top guys at this weight). 

Obviously the most important factor for Iowa at this weight is Kemerer's health -- hopefully the knee injury he appeared to suffer against Edinboro on Saturday night was a minor scare and nothing significant. He could be looking at Ruschell in the quarterfinals and Round III with Berger in the semifinals before a possible finals showdown with Nolf.


1 Isaiah Martinez Illinois 23-0 10-0 9-0
2 Logan Massa Michigan 25-1 11-1 7-1
3 Isaac Jordan Wisconsin 21-2 8-2 8-1
4 Vincenzo Joseph Penn State 14-3 6-2 6-2
5 Joey Gunther Iowa 17-6 7-4 5-3
6 Nick Wanzek Minnesota 23-11 6-3 6-3
7 Drew Hughes Michigan State 21-6 5-6 3-5
8 Johnny Sebastian Northwestern 16-8 4-4 4-3

IMar beat everyone he saw, so the 1 seed isn't in doubt. Massa beat everyone he faced except IMar. Jordan lost a pair of matches to Massa, but beat Joseph, Gunther, and Wanzek. Joseph beat everyone except IMar and Jordan. Gunther quietly put together a nice Big Ten record, only losing to Massa, Jordan, and Joseph and beating Wanzek and Hughes. Hughes has a lot of losses, but also has an 11-0 major decision win over Sebastian, which made it hard for me to seed Sebastian ahead of him. 

Given this seeding, Gunther would get a quarterfinal match against Joseph (who beat him 7-4 at the dual) and, if he pulled the upset in that one, a semifinal match against Martinez. Let's just say I think Gunther will have to do most of his damage for Iowa in the consolation bracket. 


1 Bo Jordan Ohio State 11-1 5-0 5-0
2 Mark Hall Penn State 24-2 7-1 5-1
3 Zac Brunson Illinois 25-6 12-1 8-1
4 Myles Amine Michigan 22-4 8-2 7-2
5 Alex Meyer Iowa 20-5 8-3 7-2
6 Jordan Pagano Rutgers 24-7 5-3 3-1
7 Jacob Morrisey Purdue 14-8 7-3 7-1
8 Devin Skatzka Indiana 23-9 7-6 4-5

Jordan lost last weekend at National Duals, but that doesn't impact his Big Ten record and I think his unblemished mark there will be enough to get him the #1 seed. Hall lost only to Meyer and beat Brunson. Brunson's only Big Ten defeat came against Hall. Amine lost to Brunson and Minnesota's Wanzek, but beat Meyer and Pagano. Meyer lost to Jordan, Brunson, and Amine, but did beat Hall. Pagano has a lesser Big Ten record than Morrisey, but he did beat Morrisey and Morrisey didn't wrestle the top guys in the Big Ten and lost to Brunson, Meyer, and Pagano.

If this seeding holds, Meyer would get a rematch with Amine in the quarters (he lost 6-5 at the dual) and a rematch with Bo Jordan in the semis (he lost 3-2 at the dual). If he could upset Jordan, he'd get either Hall (who he surprisingly upset at the dual this year, 7-5) or Brunson (who has long been his nemesis). All things considered, this would be a pretty reasonable draw for Meyer as he was close to beating both Amine and Jordan and could be facing a semi-hobbled Jordan (he's been dealing with a persistent foot issue all season). 


1 Bo Nickal Penn State 18-0 10-0 9-0
2 Nate Jackson Indiana 28-2 10-2 9-0
3 Sammy Brooks Iowa 21-2 9-2 7-1
4 Myles Martin Ohio State 23-7 8-2 7-2
5 T.J. Dudley Nebraska 22-2 7-2 4-2
6 Emery Parker Illinois 23-6 6-4 6-3
7 Nicholas Gravina Rutgers 18-7 5-5 5-4
8 Mitch Sliga Northwestern 16-8 4-7 4-5

Nickal hasn't been touched so he's an obvious #1 seed. Jackson is a surprising face at the 2 seed, but his record speaks for itself -- he's only lost to Brooks (who he also beat) and Dudley and those losses both occurred at Midlands. Brooks split with Jackson at Midlands and had his only dual meet loss against Nickal. Martin lost to Brooks and Nickal, but beat Dudley. Speaking of... could Dudley really go from Big Ten/NCAA runner-up last year to the 5 seed this year?  It seems like it. He lost to Nickal and Martin, didn't face Brooks, but beat Jackson. 

Brooks could get Parker in the quarters (they've never wrestled before) and Jackson in the semis (who he split with at Midlands). This would be a pretty ideal draw for Sammy, frankly, as it would keep arguably the three most dangerous opponents for him (Nickal, Dudley, and Martin) on the opposite half of the bracket. All roads lead to Nickal in the final, but it would certainly be preferable to not have to go through Dudley or Martin to get there, I think. 


1 Brett Pfarr Minnesota 24-1 11-0 9-0
2 Kollin Moore Ohio State 24-3 8-1 8-1
3 Aaron Studebaker Nebraska 24-6 7-2 7-2
4 Matt McCutcheon Penn State 15-3 7-3 6-3
5 Ricky Robertson Wisconsin 23-12 6-6 3-5
6 Cash Wilcke Iowa 14-8 5-4 5-3
7 Jackson Striggow Michigan 11-11 5-4 5-4
8 Jacob Berkowitz Northwestern 22-7 8-5 5-3

Pfarr has owned the rest of the Big Ten this year, so he's an easy 1 seed. Moore's only losses this year are to the #1 (J'Den Cox) and #2 (Pfarr x2) ranked guys at this weight. Studebaker's only Big Ten losses are against Pfarr and Moore. McCutcheon's only losses are to Pfarr, Moore, and Studebaker. Did you know Wilcke was 5-3 against B1G opposition this year? Probably not, given how he seemed to be struggling, but he generally struggled against the better guys (lost to Moore, Studebaker, McCutcheon, and Robertson) and beat everyone else. Robertson has a lesser record, but did beat Wilcke 6-3 at Midlands, which I think gets him the nod over Wilcke here.

That's unfortunate because it sets up a possible quarterfinal for Wilcke against Studebaker, who beat him 12-2 earlier this year in a match that didn't even feel that close. But match-ups with Pfarr, Moore, or Studebaker would be mighty challenging for Wilcke and it seems unlikely that he could get a 4 or 5 seed. Like Gunther, he may need to do most of his damage in the consolation bracket. 


1 Kyle Snyder Ohio State 9-0 5-0 5-0
2 Connor Medbery Wisconsin 22-0 11-0 9-0
3 Nick Nevills Penn State 16-2 7-2 7-2
4 Michael Kroells Minnesota 23-7 8-3 7-2
5 Brooks Black Illinois 11-5 5-1 5-1
6 Collin Jensen Nebraska 24-10 5-6 4-4
7 Youssef Hemida Maryland 16-9 6-4 6-2
8 Conan Jennings Northwestern 15-11 5-4 5-4

There's an argument to be made for Medbery as the 1 seed, given Snyder's part-time schedule this year and the fact that Medbery has twice as many Big Ten and overall wins. But I think Snyder gets the edge here as the defending Big Ten champion (not to mention the World and Olympic champion, even if those accomplishments shouldn't actually factor in here). Not that it really matters a whole lot who is the 1 seed and who is the 2 seed here as they appear to be on a collision course for the finals. Nevills only lost to Medbery and Snyder. Kroells lost to Medbery (x2) and Nevills. Black only lost to Nevills, but missed several duals. Jensen has a lot of losses, but all of them came against quality opponents. Hemida has a better record, btu he wrestled an exceptionally weak schedule.

285 is the only weight where Iowa shouldn't have a wrestler seeded in the Top 8 and that's down to Sam Stoll's unfortunate season-ending injury. A healthy Stoll would likely have pushed for a 3 or 4 seed here.  I'll be happy if Holloway can steal a win at the Big Ten Tournament, frankly. 

So that's what I think the Big Ten Tournament seeds will look like when they're announced next week.  As far as how that looks in terms of the team title race, here's how that would look in terms of just placement points if those projected seeds held up.

TEAM 125 133 141 149 157 165 174 184 197 285 TEAM PTS
Penn State 2 N/A 3 1 1 3 2 1 4 3 135
Iowa 1 3 6 2 2 5 5 3 6 N/A 108
Ohio State N/A 1 5 3 N/A N/A 1 4 2 1 104
Nebraska 3 2 2 N/A 3 N/A N/A 5 3 6 84.5

Again, that's just placement points, so it doesn't include bonus points (where PSU is likely to hoover up a bunch more points). Penn State looks like pretty heavy favorites to win; the most intriguing battle could be between Iowa and Ohio State for second place.

Thoughts? Hit up the comments.

H/T to Jennifer Steffen and IAWrestle for the photo assistance. Check out IAWrestle and follow them on Twitter at @jenphotag and @IAwrestle

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