The Big Ten Brackets have been released, anticipation couldn’t be higher for the annual classic setup for the big dance. You can find the brackets here.
Coming into this season, 125 was thought of as merely Spencer Lee (Iowa) and the field. Instead, he is the two seed after suffering a pair of convincing losses. He will look to avenge one of them, as he will hopefully face off against Rivera (Northwestern) in the finals. Have people scouted Lee correctly, or will his magical winning form return?
Mattin (Michigan) and Russell (Minnesota) in the quarterfinals is an early match to watch. They have defeated each other over the past couple seasons. Foley (Michigan State) could set himself up for a great NCAA seed if he can continue to make noise. A top three finish would cap a great resume.
With all the talk about this weight class’s depth, no one has been able to touch #1 Micic (Michigan). This will be another tough test on his way to his first title (2nd Big Ten title). I was surprised when DeSanto (Iowa) was able to take out Suriano (Rutgers). That should be the semifinal, but Lizak (Minnesota) is always a wild card and will be wrestling in front of his home fans.
Ohio State’s chances to beat Penn State in the dual evaporated when Young (Penn State) topped Pletcher (Ohio State). Chances for a top two team finish weighs an extra factor in the quarterfinal.
There is early and often fun here featuring four of last year’s All-Americans at this weight. Carr (Illinois) is the top seed, but will have to clear Red (Nebraska), and the winner of what should be a tough match between Storr (Michigan) & Moran (Wisconsin) just to get to the finals. The other side is not any more predictable. McKenna (Ohio State) wants revenge from Lee (Penn State), but has to face a tough McKee (Minnesota) before. Whomever wins this bracket makes a big statement.
Ashnault (Rutgers) has been a head above the field and should be going for his 2nd Big Ten title in the finals on Sunday. Who faces him is a tougher question. In the quarterfinals, I’ve never been too keen on Lugo (Iowa) and we haven’t seen much of Berge (Penn State) this year. Both of these guys are potentially a dangerous match for Jordan (Ohio State)
I’m defintely interested to see how good Young (Iowa) is, but I’m a Pantaleo (Michigan) homer so it’s difficult for me to be impartial. Speaking of Pantaleo, he is Nolf’s (Penn State) closest win is his career and the only current guy in college wrestling that seems to give the unicorn pause. Deakin (Northwestern) and Berger (Nebraska) should make for a great semi-final on the other side.
Another year of madness which is the Big Ten 165 lb class. Joseph (Penn State) has the last two national championships, but still is looking for his first Big Ten title. It’s not for a lack of focus, this weight has been stacked in this conference and once again that has not changed. Massa (Michigan) and White (Nebraska) make for a wild quarterfinal just to face Joseph Saturday night. Another edition of Wick (Wisconsin) and Marinelli (Iowa) makes for a great battle to make the finals.
Hall (Penn State) returns to near where he went to high school to earn his 2nd Big Ten championship. Him and Amine (Michigan) had a 4-3 match in the finals last year and they are the top two seeds again. While this is expected, there are plenty of capable combatants to crash the party including Lydy (Purdue), Smith (Ohio State), Skatzka (Minnesota), top specialist Hughes (Michigan State) and Labriola (Nebraska).
Myles Martin (Ohio State) has been dominant. If it wasn’t for the guy who pinned him in the NCAA Finals moving up and being as dominant, Martin would be in the Hodge discussion. Few first round matches are more interesting than Caffey (Michigan State) and Embree (Michigan). The winner faces Rasheed (Penn State) who may or may not be all that healthy. Venz (Nebraska) sits as the #3 seed and is one of the wildest guys to watch wrestle. Parker (Illinois) took 3rd at NCAA’s last year and sits at the #4 seed making Wilcke’s (Iowa) road very difficult. Martin should continue his winning ways, but how 2nd through 8th finishes should be action throughout.
As mentioned above, Bo Nickal (Penn State) bumped up a weight class and continues to make college wrestling look easy. It will be interesting to see if Warner (Iowa) can challenge Moore (Ohio State) to face him, but chances are the majority of fun will be watching Nickal do creative destruction.
Sam Stoll (Iowa) started off the year as the #1 ranked guy as the top returning All-American, but this past calendar year has not gone his way. He finds himself fighting for a birth to NCAA’s and a quarterfinal against phenom Steveson (Minnesota) in his home arena is something I imagine the Gopher fans are going to maniacally enjoy. Steveson has used his speed to destroy the weight class, but Cassar (Penn State) may be the speed and strength match-up to derail the train.
Another All-American has had a tough go. Hemida (Maryland) is just 11-5 and we are unsure how healthy he is. He’s drawn in against Parris (Michigan). The Wolverine earned the #3 seed with a great freshman campaign but drew Hemida, and then has to face Jennings (Northwestern), if Deuce (Illinois) doesn’t get him again, whom he dropped two bad matches to.
Stoll & Hemida likely need to finish in the top seven just to make the big dance, and it will be interesting as five of the top seven seeds are new to the Big Ten Championships at 285.
Penn State should run away with the title, but they have stumbled here for a variety of reasons. Three of the last four years they have not won this tournament. 2nd place should be the more interesting race. Ohio State, Michigan, and Iowa should be pretty tightly placed.
Iowa could have a rough first session. It’s very possible only four Hawkeyes make the quarterfinals.
The swings make this my favorite tournament of the year, and I can’t wait for the first whistle tomorrow.