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Rutgers and Big Ten Wrestling Tournament Preview

Scarlet Knights look for Success in Toughest Conference Tournament

Roy DeBoer

A lot casual observers and others will point to the NCAA’s as the real mark of great wrestlers.

They must have missed the stages to get there such as preseason, dual meets, and oh yeah, conference tournaments. Particularly the Big Ten Tournament.

The best conference, the majority of the best wrestlers, in a two day slugfest for conference and seeding supremacy. We’ll break down the weights, look at the potential Rutgers finishes and of course give predictions on the Big Ten finals. This tournament might as well be a mini-NCAA’s.

Before diving into the juicy details, make sure to watch on BTN Plus or Flo Wrestling this Saturday and Sunday for all four sessions. Sessions I and II will be Saturday at 11am EST and 7 pm EST. Sessions III and IV will be at 1pm EST and 4pm EST. Session IV will be broadcasted live on Big Ten Network, showcasing the 1st place bouts.

NCAA Qualifying Allocations for Big Ten

Each weight class throughout the entire NCAA will have a maximum of 29 automatic qualifiers but no less than 25, while the rest will inserted via at-large bids. Here are the automatic allocations for the Big Ten in each weight class:

125: 9

133: 8

141: 9

149: 6

157: 9

165: 9

174: 8

184: 8

197: 5

HWT: 7

Rutgers Seeds:

Prior to brackets being released, the top eight wrestlers are seeded in each weight class if that weight class has eight or less automatic bids. If the weight has more than eight, every wrestler is seeded prior to official brackets being released.

125: Shane Metzler - 13th

-Metzler is going to have an uphill climb to qualify for Pittsburgh. A few wins could sneak him in, but he’d have to end his tournament with a win in the 9th place bout to qualify for NCAA’s. It’s automatic bid or bust.

133: Nick Suriano - 3rd

-Suriano could win one match and forfeit the rest like he did last season and automatically qualify. He’s practically a lock and this seeding makes the most sense due to his only losses within the conference coming to No. 1 Stevan Micic and No. 2 Austin DeSanto.

141: Peter Lipari - 9th

-If Lipari matches his seed, he’ll get into NCAA’s. He might not have enough on his resume to get a wild card, should he fail to get an automatic bid, but he has wrestled really well in the final stretch of the season. It’s looking more and more likely he’ll get to the tourney for the first time in his career.

149: Anthony Ashnault - 1st

-Ashnault is and should be the favorite to take home not just the Big Ten crown, but an NCAA Championship. He’s beaten everyone and anyone that has challenged the sixth year senior.

157: John Van Brill - 10th

-Despite being ranked in the Top 20, Van Brill will take a lower seed due to some of his conference losses. This also shows how deep 157 is in the Big Ten. He has shown in the past that he is a fantastic tournament wrestler and I’d lean towards him out wrestling his seed and getting in automatically.

165: Stephan Glasgow - 12th

-Injury and lack of matches hurt Glasgow in Big Ten seeding but 165 is going nine deep this season in the Big Ten, so you can’t rule out Glasgow putting a few wins together to sneak into Pittsburgh. He won’t get a wild card berth based on his season, but don’t rule out the true freshman wrestling again in two weeks.

174: Joe Grello - 9th

-Grello will be aided by his ranking the RPI and NCAA Coaches Rankings. He’s quietly had a solid season in 2018-19 and got a boost when it was announced 174 would take the top eight in the Big Ten. Grello might be just outside the top eight ranking wise for the Big Ten, but all he needs is to put together one extra win and he’ll get to the tournament for the first time in his career.

184: Nick Gravina - 9th

-Gravina is no longer listed in the NCAA Coaches Panel Ranking which hurts his case for an at large bid should he not finish 8th or higher. He is a previous qualifier so he’ll have criteria, but he’ll need a big tournament due to his lack of matches this season. Gravina is more than capable of getting an automatic bid, but he’ll likely need to knock off someone he lost to previously to garner one of the final spots.

197: Matt Correnti - (Waiting on official seed)

-Correnti likely does not have enough criteria to warrant an at large bid to NCAA’s unless he has a really good tournament and finishes no lower than 6th. With only five automatic spots dished out to the Big Ten, Correnti will have to pull of an upset somewhere. One thing that can work in his favor in terms of an at large bid will be his RPI Ranking. The NCAA uses RPI and the Coaches Panel Rankings as part of their qualifying criteria (33 wrestlers qualify per weight class). Correnti currently sits at No. 27 in the RPI Ranking at 197.

HWT: Christian Colucci - (Waiting on official seed)

-Colucci has a tough task to get through the bracket at Big Ten’s. He has a nice resume and is aided by his RPI ranking. I think if he puts together some solid wins and ends with a win in a 9th place bout or at least makes the 7th place match to have a chance to automatically qualify, he’ll get to Pittsburgh.

Big Ten Finals Predictions:

125 - Sebastian Rivera (Northwestern) vs. Spencer Lee (Iowa)

-125 is loaded, particularly the top four with Rivera, defending National Champion Lee, Sean Russell of Minnesota and Ravon Foley of Michigan State. It just seems Rivera and Lee are a step above everyone else. Rivera got a win over Lee at Midlands, but I like Lee in a rematch, despite being pinned by fellow NCAA title contender Nick Piccininni of Oklahoma State

Winner: Lee

133 - Steven Micic (Michigan) vs. Nick Suriano (Rutgers)

-These two faced off at the RAC with Suriano dropping a 3-2 decision. Things might be different in a rematch, but Micic has got something special. He was a runner up at 133 last season at NCAA’s and it seems like it’s his time. You can’t rule out a Suriano victory, thus a possible No. 1 seed at nationals, but Micic has a slight edge.

Winner: Micic

141 - Mike Carr (Illinois) vs. Joey McKenna (Ohio State)

-Nick Lee of Penn State could ultimately get here as well, but I’m still high on McKenna and Mike Carr is one of the best wrestlers no one talks about. McKenna is one of the top contenders for a National Title.

Winner: McKenna

149 - Anthony Ashnault (Rutgers) vs. Micah Jordan (Ohio State)

-Ashnault has been flat out dominant this season and defeated Jordan 14-10 in the Cliff Keen finals a few months ago. He had built up a 10-1 lead before coasting but both have improved since. Expect a closer match this time out, but Ashnault is still favored.

Winner: Ashnault

157 - Jason Nolf (Penn State) vs. Tyler Berger (Nebraska)

-Jason Nolf. Well that’s pretty much all you have to say. This could be an NCAA final in Pittsburgh, but if you pick against the two time champ out of Penn State, you’re crazy.

Winner: Nolf

165 - Alex Marinelli (Iowa) vs. Vincenzo Joseph (Penn State)

-These two could end up being in a brawl, but I have to stick with the two time National Champion. Don’t rule out a small upset from Marinelli.

Winner: Joseph

174 - Mark Hall (Penn State) vs. Myles Amine (Michigan)

-Hall has had his close encounters with Amine, but he’s the heavy favorite here and the favorite to win another National Title.

Winner: Hall

184 - Myles Martin (Ohio State) vs. Taylor Venz (Nebraska)

-Martin is another heavy favorite to win the title at 184 this season, but the Big Ten has some nice challengers. I could see Venz making a run and getting to the final, but he won’t get by Martin in the head to head matchup. 184 is Martin’s to lose in the Big Ten and NCAA’s.

Winner: Martin

197 - Bo Nickal (Penn State) vs. Kollin Moore (Ohio State)

-Nickal pinned more inside of two minutes earlier this year. ‘Nuff said. Nickal looks unbeatable at this weight.

Winner: Nickal

HWT - Gable Steveson (Minnesota) vs. Anthony Cassar (Penn State)

-Another potential NCAA final right here. Steveson has been one of the most dominant freshmen I have ever seen, particularly at heavyweight. It’s just not normal. Cassar is also a freakish athlete and I think he might be the only guy to take out Steveson. But, I have to stick with the phenom who might take an Olympic redshirt next season to try and win gold in 2020.

Winner: Steveson

Rutgers Predicted Finishes:

Shane Metzler (125) - T-11th/12th

Nick Suriano (133) - 2nd, Big Ten Runner-Up, NCAA Qualifier

Peter Lipari (141) - 9th place, NCAA Qualifier

Anthony Ashnault (149) - 1st, Big Ten Champion, NCAA Qualifier

John Van Brill (157) - 7th, NCAA Qualifier

Stephan Glasgow (165) - 10th place

Joe Grello (174) - 8th place, NCAA Qualifier

Nick Gravina (184) -8th place, NCAA Qualifier

Matt Correnti (197) - 7th place

Christian Colucci (HWT) - 9th, NCAA Qualifier (At-large bid)

Team: 10th place, 7 NCAA Qualifiers