Big Ten wrestling tournament: here's what you need to know before sessions III and IV Sunday


Big Ten fight. The 14 teams that make up the country's most dominant wrestling conference this year have gathered in Minneapolis for a showdown of the most powerful programs. Penn State, State of Ohio, Iowa, Michigan and more. It's the intense, moving and fiery battle that university wrestlers have been fighting for since the beginning of the season. And all the action will continue Sunday morning and into the evening.

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On Saturday, nine of the ten weight categories will feature top ranked wrestlers at the national level, and this star group will also feature six former NCAA champions, eight former Big Ten champions, and an undefeated first-year freak. It's the clash of the titans, and although the Penn State Nittany Lions are supposed to clean up, nothing was given in March.


Here are the questions we had during Saturday's clashes:

125 pounds

Great question: Will Spencer Lee find the magic he needs in March to defeat Sebastian Rivera and build his momentum for the national tournament?

The young Iowa star went to Rivera in the Midlands in December and missed her duel against the second year of the Northwest in early February. The two men have not met since the famous Battle of Chicago. Since then, Rivera's only loss has been against Stevan Micic (133 pounds) in a super match in the North West-Michigan duel. He is undefeated this year at 125, while Lee has two defeats of the year, one against Rivera and another recent fall against Nick Piccininni of Oklahoma State. Lee's last defeat at Stillwater worried Iowa fans, but a Big Ten title would help silence the critics. Lee ruled out Rivera 12-0 at the Big Ten tournament last year before finishing third and winning the title of first year player of the year.

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Will Rivera cancel the result of last year's match against Lee and fight to win his first Big Ten title? Maybe, but even outside Lee, the competition is tough. Sean Russell, of Minnesota's All-American 2017, holds the third seed in the hands and sixth in the national standings. Lee beat Russell 4-0 in January, but other than that defeat, Russell did not lose to a Big Ten opponent. He should have a chance at bronze, and maybe higher, and he should not be ignored. The 125-pound weight still has an opponent in the top 10 in Michigan State's RayVon Foley, and he's on Rivera's side, which means the two players could face each other in quarter-finals. final. This is undoubtedly a crazy weight with some big stars, setting the stage for an intense weekend of high level wrestling.

133 pounds

Great question: Can any one challenge Stevan Micic from Michigan?

When 2018 NCAA champion Seth Gross dropped out of the season after his back injury, a weight class that once seemed blocked has suddenly reopened. The 133-pound weight was stacked nationally by All-Americans Nick Suriano, Tariq Wilson, Luke Pletcher and Ethan Lizak to the two young stars Daton Fix and Austin DeSanto, all ranked in the top eight. But one athlete, and only one athlete, has survived his match-winning glove this year to come out of the regular season with a flawless record: reigning Big Ten champion Stevan Micic. The Michigan junior has 13 wins this year with notable wins over Pletcher and Suriano, and he will be watching this weekend.

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In the Big Ten, DeSanto is in second place with Nick Suriano of Rutgers in third place. Bravo-Young of Penn State and Pletcher of Ohio complete the top five with Lizak seventh. Micic is the only athlete in this weight category to win a 22-pound (133-pound) Big Ten title, creating additional suspense for the first-ever Big Ten wrestlers. And as if that were not enough, another interesting element of this weight class is the element "A beat B, B beat C and C beat A". DeSanto recently suffered a loss to Daton Fix, while Suriano lost to the same opponent, but previously Fix was defeated by Micky Phillippi, No. 5, who also lost to Korbin Myers and Suriano. Fix will be fighting in the Big 12 this same weekend, so the Big Ten wrestlers are likely to face him again in the NCAA tournament, but for the moment, they are free of the young Cowboy. Nine NCAA bids and a conference title will be up for grabs this weekend, not to mention the seeds of the NCAA, creating even more intensity at 133.

141 pounds

Great question: Will Joey McKenna of the Ohio State defend his title?

Here are two challengers who could defeat Yianni Diakomihalis at 141

The only weight category without the first national seed in the category, the 141, will be a clash between Joey McKenna, Ohio State, Nick Lee, Penn State and the best head-to-head, Mike Carr, from Illinois. Carr earned first place as a result of his undefeated conference record, although he enters the tournament with one more loss than Lee and five wins less than McKenna. Illini, the young fighter, will continue his first Big Ten title after being a finalist last year, but he will face a veteran fighter in defense of Big Ten champion McKenna. In 18 matches, the Ohio State Buckeye has lost only twice, once against No. 1 Yianni Diakomihalis and once against No. 2 Nick Lee. He will bring this experience and success to the carpet in Minneapolis and intends to defend his title, but the road will not be easy.

As seeded number 3, McKenna will face a tougher road than Lee or Carr, but he beat Carr last year and could do the same this weekend. Carr will also have to pass former All-American Chad Red to qualify for the finals, which should not be a problem if he gets weaker. Post-season wrestling, however, is all about upheavals. It will be a weight on which to focus, and a possible rematch between McKenna and Lee between Penn State and Ohio State adds excitement to 141 for the podium top.

149 books

Great question: Is this the year Micah Jordan finally wins a Big Ten title?

Micah Jordan has been a trusted leader for Ohio State and has successfully competed in four different weight classes during his career as Buckeye. Returning to 149 and ready to scold, Jordan enters the tournament with the No. 2 seed of the conference, a record of 22-1 and a series of 13 consecutive wins. His only loss was won by No. 1 seed Anthony Ashnault at the Cliff Keen tournament in a 14-10 battle. Ashnault is looking to become the first Rutgers wrestler to win a national title later this month, but he expects first to win his third Big Ten title (with the top two titles reaching 141 pounds in 2016 and 2017). A sixth-year senior, Ashnault is ranked first among the Big Ten and in the country since February 3, when he beat No. 1 seed Matthew Kolodzik of Princeton in a major decision.

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This weight category will be a veterans battle with Jordan and Ashnault holding the first two places, but the rest of the challenging 149-pound cast should not be overlooked. Pat Lugo, Thomas Thorn, Cole Martin and Brady Berge are also in the top 20 national rankings and will hope to at least compete and win one of the six coveted tickets for the Big Stage in Pittsburgh.

157 pounds

Great question: How many bonus points has Jason Nolf accumulated?

Jason Nolf can win a 3rd consecutive title at 157 pounds?

The weight class of 157 kilos at the Big Ten tournament is tough, with seven of the top eight wrestlers in the country. However, the top ranked wrestler, Jason Nolf, is undefeated and remains the big favorite with a weight that will send nine qualifiers automatically to the NCAA Tournament. The Big Ten tournament will probably only be part of the winning round of Nolf, the reigning National Champion, who has scored bonus points in more than 85% of his matches. Nolf has been untouchable this year and the Big Ten should not be an exception. Already this year, he eliminated Tyler Berger, Ryan Deakin and Alec Pantaleo, the other four seeds in the weight category.

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If (and this is a big one), if someone was to overthrow the champion, the best contenders would be one of those three wrestlers. Berger or Pantaleo both had medical wins against Nolf at last year's Big Ten tournament, but also suffered defeats against the Nittany Lion earlier this year. Apart from these two games, Nolf's only other defeats over the course of his career have been John Van Brill's injury loss and two losses to Isaiah Martinez. This is the year of Jason Nolf and he has shown no reason why he is not the favorite to win this weight class again.

165 pounds

Great question: Will double national champion Vincenzo Joseph finally win his first Big Ten title?

First Penn State wrestler to win national titles as a novice and sophomore, Vincenzo Joseph just misses one element of his resume as he heads for his third Big Ten Championship: an individual title to the conference. The 165-pound star is undefeated this year with 21 wins, and ranks third in the ranking of the most dominant wrestler, but he still misses the Big Ten title, falling twice against graduate Isaiah Martinez of l & # 39; Illinois. Joseph beat Martinez twice in the national tournament, but he could not defeat Illini in early March. Now, with Martinez all the way out, it could be Joseph 's year, but the road will still not be easy. His biggest threat comes from Alex Marinelli of Iowa, another undefeated wrestler who fights against Oklahoma State's Jonce Blaylock after a 2:44 fight. He also defeated Evan Wick (Wisconsin), Isaiah White (Nebraska) and Shields. Marinelli is tough, and he's on a good start with two recent wins over Blaylock and Wick.

Joseph has also won an impressive number of victories, including Logan Massa (Michigan), Chance Marsteller (Lock Haven) and Josh Shields (Arizona State). This weight class will bring nine qualifiers automatically to the NCAA Tournament, and the top five ranked wrestlers have all played against Joseph, Marinelli or both already this year. Wisconsin's Wick holds the third seed in the tournament, followed by White and Massa. Joseph, ranked at the top of the ranking, enjoys an exceptional bonus rate of 80.95%, while Marinelli also has an exceptional rate of 70%. The 165-pound final might be a battle between two undefeated wrestlers, but both Marinelli and Joseph will have to travel so far if they want to get shot.

174 books

Great question: What will be the dominance of defending champion Big Ten Mark Hall?

Can someone block the Valencia / Hall party at 174 this year?

The 174-pound weight class will be fun at the NCAA championship, and there is certainly excitement at the conference tournament; However, as for the 157 kilos, this weight is firmly controlled by an athlete in a Penn State singlet. Mark Hall managed his wrestling program this year to earn a perfect 23-0 record with victories over ranked opponents including No. 3 Zahid Valencia, No. 4 Myles Amine, No. 5 Jordan Kutler, No. ° 9 Mikey Labriola and # 4 10 Dylan Lydy. He also won a Southern Scuffle title and is clearly the favorite to add another Big Ten title to his resume. American Myles Amine of Michigan, 15-2, whose only defeats were eliminated against Hall and Valencia, will be back against Hall. Amine kept Hall in a point during their last battle, and if he succeeds, he'll rack up the team's important points in what should be a tight team race for second place.

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Hall and Amine should be ready to receive two of eight automatic qualifying bids for the NCAA tournament with this weight as the top two in that weight. Apart from these two All-Americans back, five of the six pre-ranked wrestlers ranked, including Labriola ninth, Lydy tenth, Ryan Christiansen eleventh, Devin Skatzka twelfth and Ethan Smith 15th square. Christiansen has taken seventh place for the Big Ten Tournament, behind Skatzka and Smith, and he is a little crazy because he has only fought three times since the Midlands month. Still, the Big Ten tournament is entirely devoted to nature. Christensen's final win was a 13-0 major decision win over Cameron Kelly of Southern Illinois Edwardsville on Feb. 24, and he had pinned Labriola earlier this season. Is he healthy and ready to go or will he be stopped by one of the other six men in the top 10 of his weight? This depth in the middle of the seeds arouses some interest, but expect Hall and Amine to take the first two places on the podium at the end.

184 pounds

Big question: Shakur Rasheed can he fight for a place on the podium?

The 184-pound stand is built for Myles Martin. The 2016 NCAA Champion finished third, second and second in his three appearances in the Big Ten as Buckeye, but this year the road is free for Martin who will leave a legacy at the conference with a tournament win. Ranked # 1 at 184 all year, Martin will enter the tournament without losing, but his biggest competition will come from the No. 2 seed, Shakur Rasheed of Penn State. The Lion Nittany has come in and out of Penn State's training this year due to an injury, but he enters the tournament at 17-0. Rasheed has not been tested against the best athletes, especially in comparison with some of his opponents, Taylor Venz and Emery Parker. He will be a point of questioning for the Nittany Lions, but if he fights to win, his team points will only separate Penn State from the rest of the field in the team rankings.

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Martin should have a chance to win the championship, but the question will be with whom he will compete in the limelight on Sunday night in Minnesota. With a large number of All-Americans back with this weight, 184 is a depth, but the weight is too heavy. Ohio State needs Martin to win a win here and ideally a few bonus points. Penn State, on the other hand, should not need Rasheed's win to win the team title, but Rasheed is still a contender. He will want to eliminate all possible opponents, including Martin, but the big question is whether he is healthy and able to do it.

197 books

Great question: Can Bo Nickal make his way to a championship?

Bo Nickal has been a force of nature this season, pinning 15 of his opponents and two others. He has won either a fall or a technical fall in his last six games, with five of those victories against Big Ten opponents. Nickal has scored bonus points in 95.45% of his matches and is leading the Dominant Wrestler standings with an average of 5.41 points per team. This Big Ten tournament is Nickal's last attempt to win the conference title in a Penn State jersey, and he showed through his performances this year that he should have no problem taking the first place on the podium Sunday.

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Kollin Moore of the Ohio State also has a chance to battle for a title, but he will have to take a different approach against Nickal than when he had a pin against the Nittany Lion in February. Nickal put Moore on the back in the first period, much like he did against Myles Martin in the 2018 NCAA Tournament, and again, the team's points will count for Ohio State. The Buckeyes can not lose to the pin at 197 – they want to have a chance to beat Michigan and Iowa in the team race, and Moore is able to fight against Nickal. However, just to get to the final, Moore will likely have to defeat Iowa's No. 4 Jacob Warner in what should be a close match.

Bo Nickal is expected to take 197 as he has done throughout the year, and with two other players ranked among the top five in the national rankings in that weight, the excitement rises for this slice.

285 pounds

Great question: Will an old All-American miss one of the eight automatic NCAA allocations at the HGVs?

Will a first year student dominate the mat in the 285 lb class this year?

This is the world of Gable Steveson, and the rest of the Big Ten heavyweight wrestlers live there only. The first-year player has an undefeated record in his first year in a Minnesota jersey, beating 27 opponents in this way to No. 1. Anthony Cassar, No. 2, and Mason Parris, of Michigan, will always try to challenge Gopher, still unbeaten. The real question, though, is not Steveson, but rather if an All-American will miss an automatic ticket for Pittsburgh.

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Maryland's Youssif Hemida failed to rank in the tournament's Big Ten, but after finishing eighth in the national tournament last year, he will be an unrated threat to the podium. The return of American Sam Stoll ranks eighth, but he also does not appear in the list of seven qualifying qualifications based on his pre-ranking. Stoll beat Hemida earlier this year, but he had already lost to David Jensen, the No. 7 seed Big Ten that Hemida had defeated earlier this year. Both wrestlers lost to Hillger and Hemida also lost to Parris and Steveson in the Big Ten. Jensen, who is in seventh-place magic, will automatically qualify for the NCAA tournament if he clashes, but he should also fear Hemida. The Cornhusker lost 8-6 to his opponent Terrapin earlier this year and holds a 14-4 record against a 11-5 record for Hemida. Hemida and Jensen lost to Steveson. Watch Steveson to score an extra point in the Big Ten tournament, but pay particular attention to athletes in the lower half of the conference. With only seven automatic offers available, an All-American could hope for a replacement spot.

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