It's pre-seed time! The Big Ten Tournament is just a few days away (Saturday-Sunday, March 3-4) and the Big Ten has released the pre-seeds for each weight. I never did get around to posting seeding projections for each weight (mea culpa), but the pre-seeds here aren't too dissimilar from the projections. At weights where the Big Ten has qualified 9 or 10 wrestlers for the NCAA Tournament (125, 149, 165) the seeding committee has seeded all 14 wrestlers at that weight. For all other weights, only the top eight have been seeded. The remaining six wrestlers at each weight will be randomly distributed for first round matches with those eight seeded wrestlers. As always, pre-seeds are not final and could change when the final seeds and brackets are released on Friday, but I wouldn't expect things to change too much. For more information about automatic qualifiers, check out this post from last week.
Each weight is constructed like a 16-item bracket, with two wrestlers at each weight receiving byes into the quarterfinals. For weights seeded out to 14 (125, 149, 165), the top two seeds will receive byes, and the rest of wrestlers will be seeded like a traditional 16-item bracket (3 vs 14, 4 vs 13, 5 vs 12, etc.). For weights seeded out to 8 (all other weights), the byes will be randomly distributed. Not having a first round match against a weak opponent hurts in terms of denying bonus point opportunities, but from Iowa's standpoint it could also be advantageous, given the questions we have about the cardio and overall health of a few Iowa wrestlers. But let's break things down, weight-by-weight.
All record information via WrestleStat.
|3||Nathan Tomasello||SR||Ohio State||7-1|
|4||Sebastian Rivera||RS FR||Northwestern||22-3|
|7||RayVon Foley||FR||Michigan State||25-7|
|13||Brandon Cray||RS FR||Maryland||11-13|
|14||Carson Kuhn||SR||Penn State||1-2|
Nothing too shocking here. 125 is definitely a weight where youth will be served in the Big Ten -- four of the top eight are freshmen and the top seed is a sophomore. As mentioned above, as the 2-seed Spencer Lee should be receiving a bye in R1. As much fun as it would be to see him dismantle someone like Cray or Jimenez in that round, keeping him fresher for the later rounds seems wise, given the issues we've seen at times this year with his gas tank.
He should see MSU's RayVon Foley in the quarters; Lee decked him in 46 seconds back at the dual meet. He's likely looking at a semifinal rematch with Nathan Tomasello, which would be huge. Lee eked past Tomasello 3-2 at the dual, but folks have been anticipating the rematch ever since the final whistle blew on that bout. If Lee makes it to the finals, Suriano will be the favorite to meet him there. They haven't met since very early in their high school careers, but with Lee being a freshman and Suriano being a sophomore, these two could be seeing a lot of each other over the next few years. Beating NaTo and Tomasello to win a B1G title won't be easy, but 125 is a tough weight in the Big Ten, so there wasn't going to be an easy path for Lee (and he probably wouldn't want an easy path anyway).
PROJECTED FINAL: #1 Suriano vs #2 Lee
|2||Luke Pletcher||SO||Ohio State||23-1|
|6||Corey Keener||SR||Penn State||14-6|
|7||Dylan Duncan||RS FR||Illinois||16-6|
The Big Ten has 7 auto-qualifiers here, so the pre-seeds only go out to the top eight. Paul Glynn, unsurprisingly, does not crack that top eight. We'll have to wait until Friday to see who he draws in the bracket here; hopefully one of the 5-8 seeds. It would be a pretty big surprise if the final at this weight involved a wrestler not in the top three here; they seem to have separated themselves from the pack in the Big Ten.
PROJECTED FINAL: #1 Micic vs #3 McKee
|1||Joey McKenna||JR||Ohio State||12-1|
|2||Nick Lee||FR||Penn State||23-4|
|3||Michael Carr||RS FR||Illinois||14-4|
|4||Chad Red||RS FR||Nebraska||17-7|
The Big Ten has eight auto-qualifiers at this weight and seven ranked wrestlers, but this weight also has some seriously anonymous dudes. I'm not at all convinced that Michael Carr and Nate Limmex aren't made-up. Vince Turk won the wrestle-off against Carter Happel last Friday, so he'll be getting the call this weekend. Unsurprisingly, he's not seeded; he went 9-6 overall this year and 2-2 against B1G opponents in dual meets (2-4 overall).
PROJECTED FINAL: #1 McKenna vs #2 Lee
|1||Zain Retherford||SR||Penn State||23-0|
|3||Ryan Deakin||RS FR||Northwestern||28-4|
|5||Ke-Shawn Hayes||SO||Ohio State||22-4|
|13||Jwan Britton||RS FR||Michigan State||8-11|
No real surprises here. Zain and Sorensen should both get byes here, which is probably not what Penn State wants to see, given Zain's pinning prowess. Bonus points from Sorensen are always nice, but hardly a sure thing. Sorensen should see the winner of Bannister/Martin in the quarterfinals; he's never faced either guy. This weight is certainly pointing to Zain-Sorensen in the finals, but Sorensen cannot afford to overlook Deakin in the semis. Sorensen only edged him 5-4 in the dual on a penalty point and Deakin appeared to be on the verge of winning that match when it was stopped in sudden victory for the penalty point. Sorensen better bring his A-game to get by Deakin.
PROJECTED FINAL: #1 Retherford vs #2 Sorensen
|T-1||Jason Nolf||JR||Penn State||18-1|
|4||Micah Jordan||JR||Ohio State||20-5|
Well, this is a first: I've never seen a T-1 in the seeds before. I assume that's just a placeholder while the wait for Cael to provide an update on Nolf's health at the final seeding meeting. The fact that they didn't just go ahead and make Kemerer the 1 seed makes me think that Nolf will be 1 seed if Cael gives an optimistic update on his knee. The difference between the 1 and 2 seeds is likely either a semifinal match with Pantaleo or a semifinal bout with Jordan or Berger. Berger was Kemerer's nemesis last year (they met three times and two of the matches were decided by one point, although the final match, in the NCAA Tournament consolation round, was a 10-1 major decision for Kemerer), but they haven't met this year. Kemerer also hasn't faced Pantaleo as he sat out the Iowa-Michigan dual to rest his leg. He did beat Jordan 8-4 in the dual earlier this year. If Nolf and Kemerer are healthy (or at least close to healthy), it would be a surprise if this wasn't Nolf-Kemerer in the finals. But if they're banged up... all bets are off.
PROJECTED FINAL: #1 Nolf vs #1 Kemerer
|2||Alex Marinelli||RS FR||Iowa||14-0|
|3||Vincenzo Joseph||SO||Penn State||17-1|
|5||Evan Wick||RS FR||Wisconsin||21-5|
|9||Te'Shan Campbell||JR||Ohio State||14-8|
|12||Austin Hiles||RS FR||Michigan State||11-19|
My god, 165 is a positively loaded weight in the Big Ten. The top three finishers at last year's NCAA Tournament (Joseph, Martinez, and Massa) are seeded 3rd, 1st, and 7th, respectively. I mean, we knew this already -- the Big Ten has 8 of the Top 11 in the most recent InterMat rankings at 165 -- but seeing it laid out in the seeds is even more jarring. From the quarterfinals on this weight could be a bloodbath.
From an Iowa perspective, Marinelli has a pretty tough draw. He should get a bye to skip out on R1, which is probably a good thing for him, given the punishing style he wrestles, his banged-up knee, and the questions we have about him holding up over a two-day tournament. But his path to a Big Ten title likely involves getting by Massa in the quarters, Joseph in the semis, and three-time B1G champ IMar in the finals. Gulp. I hope The Bull is eating his Wheaties.
|1||Mark Hall||SO||Penn State||25-0|
|2||Bo Jordan||SR||Ohio State||19-4|
By gawd, that's Joey Gunther's music! Joey Gunther won the wrestle-off over Kaleb Young last Friday to get the start at 174 this week and he also wrangled a pre-seed, although that's mainly due to the Big Ten's overall weakness at this weight. That said, the top of the weight is pretty nasty, as Hall, Jordan, and Amine are all quite good. Assuming Gunther gets by R1, he'll likely get Bo Jordan in the quarterfinals. He didn't wrestle Jordan at the dual earlier this year (Kaleb Young did), but Jordan will be a fearsome match-up for Gunther. Odds are Joey will need to do his work in the consolation bracket to earn a spot at the NCAA Tournament.
PROJECTED FINAL: #1 Hall vs #3 Amine
|1||Bo Nickal||JR||Penn State||23-0|
|2||Myles Martin||JR||Ohio State||24-1|
|6||Tyler Venz||RS FR||Nebraska||20-5|
One of the biggest problems with seeding the Big Tens these days is the unbalanced schedules you get with a 14-team league and a 9-meet dual schedule. Emery Parker, for instance, has a glistening 18-1 record; he also didn't face Nickal, Martin, or Abounader, because Illinois somehow missed out on PSU, OSU, and Michigan this year. You suck, Delanybot 9000. Anyway, Mitch Bowman is hanging on to the #8 seed here, but assuming he gets by his R1 match, his reward will be a quarterfinal date with Bo Nickal. I'll consider it a victory if he lasts longer than 50 seconds against Nickal this time. Like Gunther, Bowman's going to need to make hay in the consolation bracket to earn an NCAA auto-qualifier.
PROJECTED FINAL: #1 Nickal vs #2 Martin
|1||Kollin Moore||SO||Ohio State||19-2|
|2||Shakur Rasheed||JR||Penn State||18-2|
|8||Eric Schultz||RS FR||Nebraska||15-7|
Moore stumbled into the postseason with losses in two of his last three matches, but it didn't keep him out of the top seed here. He might also breathe a sigh of relief that the Penn State wrestler who beat him at the dual a few weeks ago (Anthony Cassar) won't be in East Lansing; PSU has opted to go with Rasheed at this weight instead, apparently. Meanwhile, speaking of stumbling into the postseason... come on down, Cash Money. Wilcke lost four of his final six matches during the season and reportedly was dealing with the flu a few weeks ago. We really, really need to see the Cash that won the Midlands show up this weekend. If he gets by R1, Wilcke should see Christian Brunner in the quarters; he hasn't faced him this year, but he did split two matches with Brunner last year, beating him 6-4 at the dual meet and losing 7-2 at the Big Ten Tournament. If he gets by Brunner, he'll likely face Rasheed, who beat him 11-2 a few weeks ago.
PROJECTED FINAL: #1 Moore vs #2 Rasheed
|2||Kyle Snyder||SR||Ohio State||8-1|
|3||Nick Nevills||JR||Penn State||21-4|
|7||Shawn Streck||RS FR||Purdue||26-11|
Let's. Get. Ready. To. RRRRUUUUMMMMBBBBLLLLEEE. Coon surprised the wrestling world by beating Snyder at the dual a few weeks ago, and everything points to him getting a chance to do it again in the finals here. They appear to be a cut above everyone else at this weight. Stoll's dual meet loss to Nevills dropped him down to the 4 seed, although he did stay above Hemida. Of course, it's not like there's any real difference between the 4/5 seed. We didn't see that match at the dual earlier this year, but we could see it in the quarters here. If Stoll gets by Hemida, he'll likely face Coon in the semi; Coon beat him 3-2 earlier this year. Stoll may need top get by Nevills and/or Hemida again in the consos to get a Top-4 finish at this weight, so we should get plenty of opportunities to see if he's figured out how to get takedowns on top guys at this weight.
PROJECTED FINAL: #1 Coon vs #2 Snyder
My projected finals have a LOT of chalk, I know, but several of these weights have a very dominant top two or top three; it's hard to find plausible upsets at many of these weights. Or maybe that will just make the upsets even more stunning when they do happen.
Thoughts? Grievances? Predictions? Let's hear 'em.