With an eye towards the team race for the NCAA title we can look at the wonderful work the rankings guru's do and then plug them in to the formula for which they do admirably since October. This is great fun, but I really think the 2015 team race is a lot more fluid than what this formula has shown over the year. What if Iowa has a really bad quarterfinal round and then a bad wrestle-back round (dare I say "Blood Round") on that Friday? What other teams have the potential to put up the points that Iowa's top to bottom lineup poises to do? Are we limiting ourselves by only looking at the top three or four teams?
This is a list Kevin & I worked on trying to limit it to guys with really good shots at National Championships this tournament. I know this is far from scientific, but for the sake of an article it's what we are rocking with. These guys we believe have a good shot, and could in turn score a lot of points for their teams and affect the team race.
The list will look strange, but it is just our opinion. We wanted only a list of guys we see potentially standing on top of the podium in St Louis. For instance, Logan Stieber is the only guy we list at 141. Yes, Dardanes pushed him to a 10-9 match and Port is really good, but Stieber is the only guy we envision standing on top of the podium.
- Alan Waters (Missouri), Jesse Delgado (Illinois), Nahshon Garrett (Cornell), Joey Dance (Virginia Tech), Nathan Tomasello (Ohio State)
- AJ Schopp (Edinboro), Chris Dardanes (Minnesota)
- Logan Stieber (Ohio State)
- Jason Tsirtsis (Northwestern), Dave Habat (Edinboro), Drake Houdashelt (Missouri), Brandon Sorensen (Iowa)
- Isiah Martinez (Illinois), Dylan Ness (Minnesota), James Green (Nebraska)
- Alex Dieringer (Oklahoma State), Bo Jordan (Ohio State), Isaac Jordan (Wisconsin)
- Robert Kokesh (Nebraska), Matt Brown (Penn State), Logan Storley (Minnesota), Mike Evans (Iowa)
- Gabe Dean (Cornell), Max Thomusseit (Pitt), Jack Dechow (Old Dominion)
- J'Den Cox (Missouri), Kyven Gadson (Iowa State), Kyle Snyder (Ohio State), Morgan McIntosh (Penn State), Scott Schiller (Minnesota)
- Nick Gwiazdowski (NC State), Connor Medbery (Wisconsin), Adam Coon (Michigan), Mike McMullan (Northwestern), Bobby Telford (Iowa), Austin Marsden (Oklahoma State)
Now we will break this list down by teams. 18 teams in our list above have National Champion contenders.
- Minnesota & Ohio State
- Missouri & Iowa
- Illinois, Cornell, Edinboro, Northwestern, Nebraska, Oklahoma State, Wisconsin & Penn State
- Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh, Old Dominion, Iowa State, North Carolina State, & Michigan
- Iowa is still #1 and bringing all ten guys to the dance. With three contenders and their top to bottom lineup they can still turn in a championship performance in St Louis. Even with recent stumbles at the National Duals and the Big Ten, they bring 7 guys ranked in the top 6 to the last tournament of the year. Heck we might even look at the Missouri dual as an outlier to an amazing season. On the flip side, Iowa could have a rough quarterfinal round swinging the saloon doors for the team race wide open. Iowa is not Penn State last year. They don't have any automatic champs (let alone 2 like Ed Ruth & David Taylor). Penn State scored 109.5 points last year. Iowa is probably not going to score that even if they do match the 7 all-american total. This really supports the idea that this team race is far from decided, but I don't think anyone is really arguing against that anymore.
- Minnesota with four contenders is dangerous, and currently have 5 guys in the top 5. The problem for the Gophers this season has been the other five weight classes. Let's look at the 96.5 points that Oklahoma State scored last year to take 3rd. They did it with five all-americans (2 champs, 2 2nd's, and an 8th. I already said I don't expect Iowa, even with their best performance, to match Penn State's 109.5 points from last year. So even with just five all-americans Minnesota is in this thing with the big firepower from the top guys, but these big guns would need to be better than they were at the Big Ten tourny.
- Missouri with three contenders can look at Oklahoma State's scoring from last year as well.They also have Lavion Mayes and Johnny Eblen having breakout seasons and should be all-americans themselves, but should place lower than Minnesota's power 5 overall. Unlike Minnesota though, the Tigers have fringe guys that are not as much of a stretch to make a run that would really help the team score. Missouri is definitely in the hunt here especially with how good J'Den Cox and Alan Waters have been looking. If the tournament went chalk with the (highly questionable) seeding, Missouri would be your national champs.
- Ohio State's loss to Lehigh was really surprising, but we can't completely count out the Buckeyes especially after tying for the Big Ten. They have Logan Stieber winning a National Championship, three talented freshmen who appear to be sure fire AA's, a wild card in healthy or not Hunter Stieber, and a slew of fringe guys. The NCAA tournament tends to make freshmen look like freshmen, but this is not an ordinary batch. All three were in the Big Ten finals with Tomasello winning it. The fringe guys have to come through somewhere though. A big 4 just doesn't get the points. The Buckeyes head in to the NCAA's with 6 guys seeded in the top 8 and that could get them enough points to win this thing.
- Cornell.....it feels like we are sleeping on Cornell and I don't like it. They send 9 to St Louis including six seeded in the top 12. Gabe Dean is poised to win a national championship. Nahshon Garrett (125) and Brian Realbuto (157) are the 2 seeds. They are a long shot, but many expect the team champion of this tournament to not score many points. If this low scoring tournament comes to fruition, Cornell could be on top with three finalists and some help from their fringe guys. That's a lot to go right for them, but they are certainly a contender.