Remember when Minnesota was #1?
I am not trying to crap on the Gophers, but it's weird to really think about the team race and the path it's taken since October. With the 4-time defending champs, Penn State, officially redshirting two top five guys (and a slew of talented recruits) they essentially abdicated their throne for future success. Minnesota became the consensus #1. Everyone knew Iowa would be in the mix, but more people were focused on Ohio State's team of destiny.
The Midlands and Southern Scuffle capped off the tournament season and one thing became apparent, Iowa didn't have any holes while everyone else did. Iowa became the consensus #1 and overwhelming favorite for the crown while not necessarily having any David Taylor's, but having a top to bottom team that was finding ways to win and get better.
Flash forward to March in the wake of the National Duals, the event criticized for not meaning anything, and now the team race is back in question. Missouri won 6 of 10 matches in the finals and beat Iowa 18-12. It was a sound beating and showed Missouri is for real, despite not being in the talk of the team race back in November.
Iowa is still the team to beat when it comes to the NCAA's score total, but Missouri is obviously right there. Minnesota is also there. While the Gophers' holes (pun!) have hurt them in the dual season they still have five guys ranked in the top 5. Ohio State is still incredibly dangerous. They have one for sure national champ, 3 freshmen in the mix for titles, a wild card in Hunter Stieber if healthy, and a few more fringe round of 12 guys. Cornell proved with a win over Minnesota at the National Duals that they aren't far off the pace. Illinois, Nebraska, and Oklahoma State all have multiple national champ possibilities.
You also have to factor how unpredictable the individual weight classes look this year. Last year there was a time early in the season where only a couple weight classes looked up in the air. This year we only have Logan Stieber and Alex Dieringer, but to be fair 165 is full of dangerous guys so who knows if that's really decided. This means the team race could wildly swing with a few upsets here and there. Having all these weights where a myriad of different guys could possibly win makes the team scores extremely malleable.
We are not completely back to where we started where the only thing we knew is that Penn State is not the same beast of previous years and someone else was going to win it. However, it feels a lot more like that now than when it did before the National Duals. With the top teams and individual weights having so many questions it will make the conference tournaments and early rounds of the NCAA's even more fun to watch than previous years. I can't wait!