College Wrestling News

TOM’s American Wrestler 2011 Big Ten Wrestling Championship Preview

On March 5-6, 2011 The Big Ten Championships will be held at Welsh-Ryan Arena in Evanston, Illinois. The regular season is over and Iowa ends the dual season on top, again. Many people had counted the Hawkeyes out this year, but we should all know better then to count them out of anything that has to do with wrestling. Penn State showed that they were also ahead of where people thought they would be and Minnesota was right in the thick of things. Wisconsin battled through some tough injuries and will look to rebound in the post-season.

We have seen some great wrestling so far during the duals and can only imagine how exciting the Big 10 tournament will be this year. The team race should be pretty interesting as well. We see it as a three horse race between Iowa, Minnesota and Penn State. It should be interesting to see how these three fair.

We have also seen the emergence of numerous young wrestlers who have exploded onto the national scene. David Taylor has been all that and more. Teammate Ed Ruth has impressed as well. Iowa’s youngsters have put them into contention. Minnesota has two of their own that have made noise this season as well.

We should also see some rivals battle it out. All in all it should be a great weekend of College Wrestling.

TheOpenMat will be their providing live audio for the entire tournament. There will also be a live blog, interviews and more. All the action will be brought to you my Andy Fuhrman and former All-American Chris Fleeger. All coverage pages will be up soon.

Note that we intentionally made as little reference to rankings as possible. The reason for this is that now is one all the debates start to get settled. We hope you all enjoy this weekend’s coverage and hope that you all stop and say hi.

The Numbers

  • Returning National Champs: 2
  • Returning All-Americans: 14
  • Number of weights with zero All-Americans: 2

Returning Big Ten Champions (2010)

  • 141 – Mike Thorn (MN)
  • 165 – Andrew Howe (WI)
  • 197 – Trevor Brandvold (WI)

Each weight has the Top 8 Pre-seeds listed

125 (5 Automatic Qualifiers)

1. Matt McDonough, IOWA
2. Brandon Precin, NU
3. Zach Sanders, MINN
4. Brad Pataky, PSU
5. Sean Boyle, MICH
6. Justin Brooks, IND
7. Camden Eppert, PUR
8. Tom Kelliher, WIS

We start off with 125. Most people are looking forward to the potential rubber match between McDonough and Precin. They have spilt matches on the season and are favored to meet for a third time here. Many are predicting that this may happen a fourth time in the National finals. It will be interesting to see what happens in the third installment between these two. Not to be overlooked is two time All-American Zach Sanders. He has had his struggles against McDonough and will look to try and change that this weekend. Precin and Sanders did not meet this season and most likely will in the semi-finals.

Penn States Brad Pataky has miss significant time this year and will look to put everything together. Based on this seasons result we are looking for these four to battle it out.

We are predicting a real battle between Precin and McDonough. We know that McDonough won the last meeting and he did so by fall, but if you have seen both matches you may have seen what we did. Precin has figured out how to slow McDonough down by keeping him close and tying him up. We think he does this again and wins a very close one.

TOM’s conference tournament predictions

1. Brandon Precin, NW
2. Matt McDonough, IA
3. Zach Sanders, MN
4. Brad Pataky, PSU

133 (8 Automatic Qualifiers)

1. Andrew Long, PSU
2. Tyler Graff, WIS
3. Tony Ramos, IOWA
4. B.J. Futrell, ILL
5. Levi Mele, NU
6. David Thorn, MINN
7. Zac Stevens, MICH
8. Ian Paddock, OSU

This is an interesting weight to say the least. Basically everyone has beaten one another in one way or another. Also, this weight does not exactly look the way it did when we published our preview.

The pre-seeds are out. Andrew Long got a nice draw with the top seed. Most likely he will face Futrell in the semi-final. The two of these guys met in a dual and Long came out on top 9-6.

On the Bottom we have Graff and Ramos who have not wrestled yet this year. Both have had solid seasons but have not wrestled each other yet this season. A possible wild card here could be Minnesota’s Thorn. Although he would need to have made up some ground to catch Ramos who controlled the match they had a few weeks ago, one never knows. As for Ramos and Graff, Ramos seems to be getting better with each week and Graff appeared to slow down some. So, it should be an interesting match if they meet.

TOM’s conference tournament predictions

1. Andrew Long, PSU
2. Tyler Graff, WI
3. Tony Ramos, Iowa
4. David Thorn, MN

141 (6 Automatic Qualifiers)

1. Kellen Russell, MICH
2. Montell Marion, IOWA
3. Mike Thorn, MINN
4. Jimmy Kennedy, ILL
5. Andrew Alton, PSU
6. Kaleb Friedly, NU
7. Jake Fleckenstein, PUR
8. Shane McQuade, WIS

Where do we even start with this weight? This weight is loaded and we should see some classic battles. None of these guys have been able to get by Russell so far this year. They have all come close, but close is just not good enough.

Kennedy and Russell should meet in the top half semi-final. We all know Russell pinned him in the first meeting, but we do not see that happening again. At first we were going to say how both these guys got a bad draw. But there are no easy draws is this minefield. Not only will Kennedy have to get buy Russell, but Alton as well. Yes, we should see Kennedy vs. Alton in the quarter finals. Kennedy won the last meeting 5-3. Alton is just as capable of winning this weight then anyone else.

On the bottom half we should see yet another match between Marion and Thorn. These two have a pretty big rivalry that has been built up over the last two years. Marion won right at the buzzer a few weeks ago in an abnormally slow paced match between these two. There is no love loss between these two and we expect the rematch to be more intense and higher scoring. All five of the guys we have discussed could legitimately be considered national title contenders.

TOM’s conference tournament predictions

1. Kellen Russell, MI
2. Mike Thorn, MN
3. Montell Marion, IA
4. Andrew Alton, PSU

149 (8 Automatic Qualifiers)

1. Frank Molinaro, PSU
2. Andrew Nadhir, NU
3. Kurt Kinser, IND
4. Eric Terrazas, ILL
5. Cole Schmitt, WIS
6. Eric Grajales, MICH
7. Dan Osterman, MSU
8. Danny Zilverberg, MINN

This weight could be fun to watch as it is wide open. Molinaro is the clear favorite here, but after him things loosen up. One thing that should be fun is that right off the bat we will see Molinaro and Zilverberg. You may recall the very close match these two had a few weeks ago and all the controversy that it stirred up. Matter of fact Minnesota coach J Robinson received a reprimand from the Big 10 for his comments on the match. Was the first match a fluke or will this be a real battle? We can not wait to see. We are expecting to see Terrazas make it to the semi-final here as well.

Nadhir has quietly had a great year. He only has three losses this year and oddly they are all to guys from the conference and guys he is seeded ahead of. Two of those three are on his side of the bracket. That would be Schmitt and Grajales. Most likely we will see Nadhir and Grajales in the quarters. Your third seed is Kinser who has had an up and down year so far. He will probably face Schmitt in the quarters. Schmitt has not been himself since returning from injury so we are interested to see if a few extra weeks of training will make the difference.

TOM’s conference tournament predictions

1. Frank Molinaro, PSU
2. Andrew Nadhir, NW
3. Kurt Kinser, IN
4. Eric Terrazas, IL

157 (6 Automatic Qualifiers)

1. David Taylor, PSU
2. Derek St. John, IOWA
3. Jason Welch, NU
4. Colton Salazar, PUR
5. Paul Young, IND
6. Brandon Zeerip, MICH
7. Sean McMurray, MSU
8. Matt Mincey, MINN

David Taylor is the clear favorite here and we expect him to win this weight. We just do not see anyone giving him much of fight. The best anyone in this field has done against him is a major decision loss. Although, he has not faced Welch, so one never knows. We expect to see Taylor face either Salazar or Young in the semi-final. The bottom half of the bracket should be interesting. St. John vs. Welch should be a solid battle. St. John won the last meeting 4-2. We are looking forward to the rematch.

TOM’s conference tournament predictions

1. David Taylor, PSU
2. Derek St. John, IA
3. Jason Welch, NW
4. Paul Young. IN

165 (5 Automatic Qualifiers)

1. Andrew Howe, WIS
2. Colt Sponseller, OSU
3. Cody Yohn, MINN
4. Aaron Janssen, IOWA
5. Conrad Polz, ILL
6. Dan Yates, MICH
7. Ryan LeBlanc, IND
8. Kevin Bialka, NU

How healthy is Andrew Howe? That is the biggest headline here. Howe is expected to return after a long lay-off with a leg injury. He is the defending National Champion and if he is healthy it should be his to lose. But, will we see what we did with Kirk Smith already this year? Guess we will have to wait and see. We are going to approach this from the standpoint that he is healthy. He most likely will run into Iowa’s Janssen who has had a very solid season and should not be overlooked, especially if Howe is not at full speed.

On the lower side of this bracket we are thinking we will see a Sponseller vs. Yohn semi-final. Sponseller won the last meeting 5-2. It will be interesting to see if Yohn can reverse that. Sponseller is 8-1 since moving up from 157.

TOM’s conference tournament predictions

1. Andrew Howe, WI
2. Colt Sponseller, OSU
3. Cody Yohn, MN
4. Aaron Janssen, IA

174 (8 Automatic Qualifiers)

1. Ed Ruth, PSU
2. Nick Heflin, OSU
3. Scott Glasser, MINN
4. Luke Manuel, PUR
5. Ethen Lofthouse, IOWA
6. Ben Jordan, WIS
7. Justin Zeerip, MICH
8. Curran Jacobs, MSU

We have another weight where a Penn State freshman has beat the competition. Ruth only has one loss on the season and that came back on December 5, 2010. If he wrestles to his abilities it would hard to imagine he does not win this weight. Manuel and Ruth have not met yet this season, but we have to favor Ruth here. Manuel has not been the most consistent this year. Matter of fact we think Lofthouse may come thru to the semi-final here.

Heflin grabs the second seed and that may have come as a surprise to some. He has remained somewhat under the radar most the season. The thing here is that a bunch of these guys all beat one another. This can muddy the seeding. Glasser will have to get by possibly two guys who have beaten him in the last eight weeks in Jordan and Zeerip. It is hard to say with Glasser who has been up and down all year battling through nagging injuries. This should be an interesting weight to watch.

TOM’s conference tournament predictions

1. Ed Ruth. PSU
2. Justin Zeerip, MI
3. Scott Glasser, MN
4. Ethen Lofthouse, IA

184 (6 Automatic Qualifiers)

1. Travis Rutt, WIS
2. Kevin Steinhaus, MINN
3. Grant Gambrall, IOWA
4. Ian Hinton, MSU
5. Tony Dallago, ILL
6. A.J. Kissel, PUR
7. Cody Magrum, OSU
8. Quentin Wright, PSU

This weight has not turned out anything like we thought it would in our pre-season preview. Wright suffered an early season injury and has not been himself all season. Kissel has not lived up to expectation and guys like Steinhaus and Gambrall have really stepped up to the plate. Rutt is the favorite with only one loss on the season that coming nearly three months ago. He should face the winner of Dallago and Hinton. But that is not the story. He will face the eight seed Quetin Wright early. Although Wright has not wrestled well, he may be the most dangerous eight seed in the tournament.

The bottom half of this bracket should be pretty interesting. Steinhaus has had a great year and seems to be wrestling pretty well heading into this one. He recently had a comeback win over Gambrall. Gambrall will have to get past Kissel to have a re-match with Steinhaus. Kissel does have a win over Steinhaus so as we stated this one should be interesting.

TOM’s conference tournament predictions

1. Travis Rutt, WI
2. Kevin Steinhaus, MN
3. Grant Gambrall, IA
4. A.J. Kissel, Purdue

197 (5 Automatic Qualifiers)

1. Trevor Brandvold, WIS
2. Luke Lofthouse, IOWA
3. Logan Brown, PUR
4. Matt Powless, IND
5. Sonny Yohn, MINN
6. Anthony Biondo, MICH
7. Joe Barczak, ILL
8. Peter Capone, OSU

Trevor Brandvold of Wisconsin is the favorite here. He appears to be back on top of his game after missing significant time due to injury. If he is back to full strength he will be very tough to beat this weekend. What is interesting here is you have a returning All-American sitting at the 5th seed in Sonny Yohn. Yohn was injured a month or so ago and since returned but does not appear to be at full strength. He only has three losses and two of those were due to the injury. He should face Powless and we expect that to be a real battle. Powless has only dropped four matches all year.

The bottom half of the bracket is pretty solid as well. We are anticipating seeing a Lofthouse vs. Brown semi-final. With that said Michigan’s Biondo could upset the apple cart. Brown does own a win over Biondo 7-4. This is one of the deeper weights in the tournament and should provide plenty of excitement.

TOM’s conference tournament predictions

1. Trevor Brandvold, WI
2. Luke Lofthouse, IA
3. Sonny Yohn, MN
4. Logan Brown, Purdue

285 (6 Automatic Qualifiers)

1. Cameron Wade, PSU
2. Ricky Alcala, IND
3. Blake Rasing, IOWA
4. Tony Nelson, MINN
5. Ben Apland, MICH
6. Eric Bugenhagen, WIS
7. Joe Rizqallah, MSU
8. Ben Kuhar, NU

This may be the toughest weight to predict. These guys are all so close that it really could play out any number of different ways. Wade has earned the top spot but anyone of these guys could push him. He will most likely face Nelson in the semi-final. He did beat Nelson on a ride out when they met. So, it should be interesting to see how that one plays out if they meet again. Nelson will have to get past Apland who gave him a close match just over a month ago.

The bottom half is just as interesting. Alcala has been solid all year but not perfect. He will have to get by Rizqallah who he has beaten 2-1. Rizqallah is the only one here who has a win over wade. Rasing has been improving and recently beat Nelson. He needs to get past Bugenhagen who has also had a solid year. Size may play a factor in that one. It will be interesting to see where they all end up when the dust settles.

TOM’s conference tournament predictions

1. Tony Nelson, MN
2. Blake Rasing, IA
3. Cameron Wade, PSU
4. Ricky Alcala, IN

Team Predictions

1. Iowa
2. Penn State
3. Minnesota
4. Wisconsin
5. Northwestern
6. Indiana
7. Michigan
8. Purdue
9. Ohio State
10. Illinois
11. Michigan State

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