photo courtesy of Missouri athletics
Conference season is upon us. This week we have five DI conferences in action and each day, we’ll bring a new preview. We’ve already hit both coasts with the Pac-12 and the EIWA, so we may as well hit the Mid-American Conference, better known as the MAC. Last year, the conference expanded to include the old EWL teams, making this new-MAC tied for the second-largest conference in the country.
Like many conferences, with the temporary solution used to allocate NCAA qualifying bids, the MAC benefited greatly at some weight classes and will be in a serious pinch at others. In the case of the weight classes squeezed with limited qualifiers, MAC coaches can only hope to limit upsets around the country at other qualifying events.
One of the conference season’s surest bets is that we’ll see Brian Smith’s Missouri Tigers hoist a MAC Championship trophy for a ninth consecutive year. Mizzou enters Lawrenceville with nine of the ten wrestlers seeded in the top-two at their respective weights. The outlier, Zach Elam, is seeded third and ranked 11th in the nation. Six of the ten Missouri entrants are ranked in the top-ten nationally. With two blue-chip true freshmen in the lineup, it looks like more of the same in the future. Sadly, the race appears to be for second place. That is one that Central Michigan could win. The Chippewas are led by the star power at their bookends. Their 125 lber and heavyweight are both ranked in the top-four nationally and are strong favorites this weekend. Former EWL member Rider looks to have emerged as CMU’s top threat for second place. The Broncs are ranked in the top-25 in a tournament format and have heavy hitters of their own, with a pair of wrestlers ranked in the top-eight. After these three, whoever had the best weekend could end up in fourth-place. Quietly, Ryan Ludwig’s Northern Illinois team has improved year-by-year and features four ranked wrestlers.
Below, we’ve gone through each weight class and previewed its competitors and made predictions for the top four placewinners, along with national qualifiers, and the team race.
When: Friday, February 26th and Saturday, February 27th
Where: Lawrenceville, New Jersey
How to Watch: ESPN+
1st - #2 Drew Hildebrandt (Central Michigan)
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