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tBBC Don’t Count out Ohio State in Big Ten Wrestling Championships

Discussion in 'News' started by Joe Dexter, Mar 3, 2016.

  1. Joe Dexter

    Joe Dexter Guest

    Don’t Count out Ohio State in Big Ten Wrestling Championships
    Joe Dexter
    via our good friends at Buckeye Battle Cry
    Visit their fantastic blog and read the full article (and so much more) here

    It was a very special postseason for the Ohio State Buckeyes a year ago. First, they secured a share of the Big Ten Championship for the first time in 64 years. They followed that up with their first NCAA Championship in school history.

    The road to defending those championships begins this weekend in Iowa City, as Ohio State brings nine seeded wrestlers to the Big Ten Championships. Of those nine, two are slated as the number one wrestlers in their bracket.

    Another, who is seeded second at 285, despite winning the U.S. Open and World Championships a year ago.

    While it’s true that Ohio State didn’t quite have the dual season they dreamed up, it’s way too early to count them out in an individual tournament. Penn State is going to be tough to surpass, with four number one seeds, and tons of ranked wrestlers. Iowa is always going to be tough.

    Ohio State has to be counted as a contender though because of how strong a tournament team they are. The Buckeyes were 13-4-1 when the country wrote them off last year as a title contender at the conference and NCAA level.

    This year, they find themselves at 11-3, with a stronger regular season finish, and more time off to get healthy for the tournament season.

    Heading into the Big Ten Championships, they have more seeded wrestlers in place to accumulate team points than they did a year ago. The Buckeyes might not be the favorites this weekend, but when wrestling starts on Saturday, you can guarantee they’ll compete.

    Tom Ryan has really changed that dynamic during his time as head coach. Ohio State has earned 41 individual Big Ten titles during its 95 year history in the sport. Those championships have come from 28 different grapplers.

    Since Tom Ryan took over before the 2006-07 season, the Bucks have claimed nine of this 41 conference titles, with six wrestlers bringing those championships home.

    The Intangibles

    TV: Big Ten Network (Session 4 Finals on Sunday)

    Online: BTN+ ($) | TrackWrestling

    Social Media: @WrestlingBucks

    2016 Big Ten Championships Schedule of Events

    Saturday, March 5
    Session 1: 11 a.m. ET/10 a.m. CT
    Session 2: 7 p.m. ET/6 p.m. CT

    Sunday, March 6
    Session 3: 1 p.m. ET/Noon CT
    Session 4: 4 p.m. ET/3 p.m. CT

    Buckeye Outlook

    Overall, the Buckeyes have nine seeded wrestlers heading into the weekend, with most weight classes guaranteeing a spot in the NCAA Championships with a a 7th place finish or better.

    Of those nine seeded, six are in the top four of their weight class. Four are ranked in the top two.

    Let’s break it down weight class by weight class.

    125: #1 Nate Tomasello

    Even though the defending national champion is undefeated and 8-0 against those seeded in the tournament — this weight class could be the toughest one in the conference.

    What makes it even more important is the top three guys in the weight class will impact the team race as members of the three favorited teams.

    Nico Megaludis, who dropped a 3-1 decision to Tomasello earlier in the year, is the three seed. The senior is a three-time All-American and two-time NCAA finalist. After missing last season, the #4 ranked Megaludis has only lost twice this year.

    The favorite to meet with Tomasello in the finals is Iowa’s Thomas Gilman, who is also undefeated. Iowa and Ohio State didn’t meet during the regular season, but both have history against each other.

    Tomasello earned a 3-2 win in the Big Ten Championships a year ago against Gilman.

    The returning champ has been so dominant and his strength on the feet has put him in a strong position to repeat as conference and national champions.

    The redshirt sophomore will more than likely face the winner of Megaludis/Gilman in the finals but could have a pretty tough quarterfinals with the likes of Tim Lambert of Nebraska or Elijah Oliver of Indiana. He beat Lambert 16-5 and Oliver 17-5 — both matches came in late January.

    tBBC Predictions

    Joe: Nate Tomasello (OSU) over Thomas Gilman (Iowa) 4-2

    Patrick: Tomasello over Nico Megaludis (PSU) 3-1

    133: Johnni DiJulius

    Consistency is the key to success at the NCAA level. There is no doubt that Johnni DiJulius is talented. His prep and collegiate career are full of accomplishments that prove that.

    His wrestling style though has proven to lead to issues with consistency.

    The Big Ten seeded the senior 7th in this weekend’s upcoming championships and to be frank — that’s very generous.

    A four-seed a year ago, DiJulius has an under .500 record in 2016. He hasn’t beaten a ranked opponent since the beginning of the season.

    Yet, he still possesses the talent to upset nearly anyone in the 133 pound class.

    Cory Clark of Iowa, who is seeded second, barely beat him last year in the quarterfinals. Zane Richards, who was the six seed last year, also dropped out in the quarterfinals.

    Ryan Taylor of Wisconsin is the sixth seed this year. He has wrestled strong to end the year, made it to the finals a year ago.

    All three of those guys have improved from a year ago. You can’t say the same about Johnni DiJulius.

    Zane Richards is undefeated heading into the B1G Championships, and beat Clark in early January. While the Illinois program continues to grow, so has Richards.

    Even Jordan Conaway of Penn State, who made the move down to 133 after being an All-American at 125, has shown major growth for the Nittany Lions.

    It’s a tough road for DiJulius, and though he shouldn’t be counted out as a top 4 placer, it’s going to be a very tough road to the podium.

    tBBC Predictions:

    Patrick: Zane Richards (ILL) defeats Jordan Conaway (PSU) by pinfall

    Joe: Zane Richards (ILL) defeats Cory Clark (Iowa) 5-1

    141: Micah Jordan

    It’s not very often that you see the aggressive offensive style that Micah Jordan brings to the table at this low of a weight class. It’s shown throughout the year, as he has dominated opponents in conference.

    Overall on the year, he’s 14-1 and is 6-0 against the preseeded wrestlers in his class.

    The four-time Ohio state champion hasn’t lost since September but also hasn’t competed yet against some of the best in the conference.

    Anthony Ashnault of Rutgers and Tommy Thorn of Minnesota will more than likely battle in the semis for a right to face Jordan.

    141 is a pretty weak class this year in the Big Ten, but there could be some very good matches late in the tournament.

    The x-factor is Penn State’s Jimmy Gulibon, who is the eight seed. He finished fifth at the NCAA Championships a year ago.

    tBBC Predictions

    Joe: Micah Jordan (OSU) defeats Anthony Ashnault (RUT) 10-3

    Patrick: Micah Jordan (OSU) defeats Tommy Thorn (MIN) 6-2

    149: Cody Burcher

    It stinks to be unseeded in a weight class that includes two All-Americans and a former national champion.

    Both Brandon Sorensen of Iowa and Zain Retherford of Penn State are undefeated.

    Ohio State fans might remember the top-seeded Retherford as the grappler that once beat Logan Stieber in a dual but could not duplicate that success in the post-season.

    Retherford has improved drastically as has Sorensen. Neither have met this season, but could put on a show in the finals.

    Jason Tsirtsis of Northwestern is the four seed. He has struggled since winning a national championship as a freshman. Even though he placed third nationally a year ago. This year has been a battle against injury. If he’s healthy though, that’s a tough matchup for the top seeded Retherford in the semifinals.

    For Ohio State’s Cody Burcher, it’s going to take his a Hail Mary cradle or something of the like, to advance in the championship bracket.

    I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Tsirtsis surprises the conference by wrestling like he did two years ago.

    tBBC Predictions

    Joe: Jason Tsirtsis (NW) defeats Brandon Sorensen (Iowa) 3-1

    Patrick: Zain Retherford (PSU) defeats Brandon Sorensen (Iowa) 11-3

    157: Jake Ryan

    I love Jake Ryan’s style of wrestling. I know it’s not popular with fans to see a guy use his defense to put his offensive game in a position to win, but Ryan does it flawlessly.

    There is something about that style of wrestling that always gives them a chance to win marquee matches.

    Unfortunately, there is no defense for a couple of buzzsaws in Isaiah Martinez and Jason Nolf.

    Martinez, who went undefeated, and won a national title for Illinois as a freshman last year, lost to Nolf earlier in the year in an one of the best performances of 2016.

    The Nittany Lion caught quick chest-to-chest control out of a reversal to hand Martinez his first loss of his career.

    Everyone is anticipating this rematch, and wondering if Martinez can bounce back, or if Nolf is the favorite to land the top seed at the NCAA Tournament.

    Both guys will probably meet in the finals at Madison Square Garden during the NCAA Championships as well.

    This is the marquee of the whole event.

    tBBC Predictions

    Patrick: Jason Nolf (PSU) defeats Isaiah Martinez (ILL) by pinfall.

    Joe: Isaiah Martinez (ILL) defeats Jason Nolf (PSU) by 6-3 decision.

    165: Bo Jordan

    There has been one wrestler within the conference that has given Bo Jordan trouble over the last two years.

    The worst part is that wrestler is a Wisconsin Badger. Yes, that’s even worse than losing to someone you’re related to.

    There have been a lot of questions about Bo at this weight, because he’s seemed sluggish over the last few weeks.

    It’s a hard weight cut without a doubt, but now with a few weeks to reset things, I really like the chance that Bo has to go on a run this March.

    Does that mean a win against number two seeded Isaac Jordan in the finals?

    Not quite.

    It’s time to get the monkey off the back though and with a strong performance, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Bo land a top-three seed in the NCAA Championships.

    tBBC Predictions

    Patrick: Isaac Jordan (WIS) over Bo Jordan OSU by 10-7 decision

    Joe: Bo Jordan (OSU) over Isaac Jordan (WIS) by 4-3 decision

    174: Myles Martin

    Beyond Penn State’s Bo Nickal, Myles Martin matches up well with anyone seeded in this weight class.

    I love the growth that we’ve seen from the young wrestler, and his intuitive wrestling style.

    Martin always knows where he is and seems to do a good job of calculating what move or combination of moves will work best in certain scenarios.

    As the four seed, he’ll have to face Nickal in the semifinals if he does wrestle to the height of his ability on Saturday.

    In dual action, Martin gave the top ranked wrestler in the country a run for his money for two periods, before giving up major points in the third.

    Martin might just be the sleeper of this tournament and with a solid showing, could be a key component to the Buckeyes competing for a team title.

    Bo Nickal is as tough as they come though and getting past him is asking way too much.

    In fact, it’s hard to believe anybody in the weight class has a chance of getting past him.

    tBBC Predictions

    Patrick: Bo Nickal (PSU) defeats Alex Meyer (IOWA) 7-4

    Joe: Bo Nickal defeats Zach Brunson (ILL) 10-3

    184: Kenny Courts

    The Pennsylvania native might be the only wrestler that placed in the NCAA tournament the year before, that I have zero faith in committing to the fact that he’ll even place at the Big Ten Championships this year.

    I am the biggest fan of Courts as a wrestler when he is on, but when he’s not, he’s very easy to beat.

    There has been zero consistency in a weight class that is full of beasts. Michigan’s Dom Abounader came out of nowhere last year and now is owning the weight class. Penn State’s Matt McCutcheon dropped a 4-2 decision to Courts in the NCAA championships a year ago. Since then, he has really outwrestled him and improved his game.

    I’m not saying I’ve lost all hope in Courts to make a run this weekend, but it’s hard to make a run in this weight class.

    You cannot get behind on the scoreboard at all, or else you’ll be left in the dust.


    Joe: Dom Abounader (UofM) defeats Matt McCutcheon (PSU) 5-1


    197: Mark Martin

    I know I’ve said it before, but the sacrifice that Martin made in jumping to 197 can’t be praised enough.

    He could of taken a redshirt to adjust to the weight class. He could of just competed for the spot at 174 and not cared that him at this weight class makes the team as a whole better.

    To me, it’s impressive that he was even able to land the six seed in the conference tournament.

    Morgan McIntosh, Brett Pfarr, Nathan Burak, Max Huntley — everyone in the weight class is much bigger than Martin.

    Yet somehow, he’s 3-1 against the field. He’s built up a 16-5 record on the season and could be a contender to surprise some favorites on Saturday.

    I can’t wait to watch and find out.

    Fact of the matter though is this is a very deep weight class nationally, so the better Martin can place, the better for his hopes in the NCAA Championships.

    Morgan McIntosh of Penn State is not just the favorite this weekend, but in late March as well. Everyone has already penciled him in as the finalist at 197 against Missouri’s J’den Cox.


    Joe: Morgan McIntosh defeats Brett Pfarr (MINN) 10-2

    Patrick: Morgan McIntosh defeats Brett Pfarr 8-2

    285: Kyle Snyder

    As much as I believe in Kyle Snyder and the fact that he could dominate the postseason, there has to be some realization that he hasn’t wrestled all but one ranked wrestler this year.

    He hasn’t gotten the mat time you’d like to see either.

    The biggest concern thous is that Michigan’s Adam Coon is legit competition in the conference finals. Everyone forgets what the long heavyweight has done during his time as a Wolverine.

    Down 6-4 in the NCAA Finals last year, Coon got a low leg single with less than thirty seconds to go to tie North Carolina State’s Nick Gwiazdowski at six. He ended up dropping the match in the final 16 seconds by giving up an escape.

    He’s length and size might give Snyder issues.

    I’m looking forward to seeing the NCAA finalist and Big Ten champion get back to tournament style wrestling though and he should be favored in Sunday’s finals.


    Patrick: Kyle Snyder defeats Adam Coon by major decision 21-7

    Joe: Kyle Snyder defeats Adam Coon by decision, 10-3

    The post Don’t Count out Ohio State in Big Ten Wrestling Championships appeared first on The Buckeye Battle Cry: Ohio State News and Commentary.

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