No. 15 Rutgers Wrestling has a clearer picture of what it’s going to take to qualify for the national tournament this year, as the conference pre-allocations for automatic qualifiers were released on Thursday.
The pre-allocations are determined using a sliding scale of a .700 winning percentage, top 30 coaches’ rank and top 30 ratings percentage index (RPI) with a maximum of 29 pre-allocations per weight class, per the NCAA.
In this context, the pre-allocations refer to the placing a wrestler must achieve at their conference tournament to earn an automatic bid to the national tournament.
For example, at 149lbs in the Big Ten, seven pre-allocation spots were awarded, so the wrestlers competing will need to place anywhere in the top seven at the Big Ten Conference Tournament to automatically qualify for nationals.
After the conference tournaments, the NCAA Division 1 Wrestling Committee will select 43 at-large wrestlers who didn’t automatically qualify through the pre-allocations to compete at nationals.
Unsurprisingly, the Big Ten garnered the most pre-allocations (88) as it remains the strongest wrestling conference in Division 1. The allocations for each weight are as follows:
What does this mean for Rutgers?
The Scarlet Knights shouldn’t have trouble getting their six ranked wrestlers (Shawver, Olivieri, Rivera, VanBrill, Poznanski, Bulsak) to auto-qualify if they can wrestle to their anticipated seeds here.
The Big Ten having 12 pre-allocations at 184lbs is incredible and speaks to insane depth at that weight where it’s likely a currently ranked wrestler will still need an at-large bid to qualify for nationals.
At 157lbs, Rob Kanniard will need to grab at least one upset win to grab an allocation, as I anticipate him coming in at a 9 or 10 seed here.
Andrew Clark (165lbs) and Connor O’Neill will likely be seeded in the 12-13 range and will need multiple upsets in order to qualify, likely their only path to nationals as neither has the resume to earn an at-large bid.
At heavyweight, Boone McDermott appears on the cusp of a national ranking but will need to navigate an extremely talented field at the Big Ten Tournament which features nine wrestlers ranked in the top 17 nationally.
Even if Boone misses the cut for an automatically qualifier spot, grabbing a win or two here would go a long way in earning him an at-large bid. I’ll have a three-part breakdown covering each weight throughout next week. The two-day Big Ten Conference Tournament kicks off Saturday March 5th in Lincoln, Nebraska and the NCAA Championships follow two weeks later, starting Thursday March 17th from Detroit, Michigan.