Analyzing Big Ten Pre-Seeds Part 2 - Penn State's Heavy Hitters Earn High Seeds

By Rob Dougherty on March 7, 2019 at 11:50 am
Bo Nickal will be looking to win his third Big Ten title.
Aaron Doster - USA Today Sports

The Big Ten released their pre-seeds and we have already looked at weights 125 through 157 in an earlier preview. Today, we look at 165 pounds through 285 pounds. After the bracket is released, we will release predictions for the Big Ten Tournament, with scoring breakdowns for each wrestler and look to see if Penn State will recapture the Big Ten title that has alluded them since 2016. 

165 Pounds - Top 9 Automatically Qualify

  1. Vincenzo Joseph, PSU
  2. Alex Marinelli, IOWA
  3. Evan Wick, WIS
  4. Isaiah White, NEB
  5. Logan Massa, MICH
  6. Te’Shan Campbell, OSU
  7. Bryce Martin, IND
  8. Carson Brolsma, MINN
  9. Joseph Gunther, ILL
  10. Tyler Morland, NU
  11. Phillip Spadafora, MD
  12. Stephan Glasgow, RU
  13. Austin Hiles, MSU
  14. Cole Wysocki, PUR

Vincenzo Joseph takes the No. 1 overall seed here, which is perfectly fine given that he's a two-time defending NCAA champion and undefeated. I personally would have gone for Alex Marinelli considering he beat No. 3 Evan Wick twice, and No. 4 Isaiah White, and is also undefeated. However, this is not a major source of contention, and Joseph can rightfully be the top seed in his quest for his first Big Ten championship. Logan Massa at No. 5 is fine since he lost to Joseph and White. Te'Shan Campbell slots in at No. 6, which is also fine considering the top five is very set. 

Joseph is going to have an interesting path regardless, but his road to the final is probably easier on the 1-seed side than Marinelli's. A quarterfinal against Carson Brolsma or Joey Gunther should not pose many problems. A semifinal with White or Massa will likely cause some issues for him. Massa has never beaten Joseph, but has wrestled him very tough. Then there's White, who lives on counter offense, and has a nearly impenetrable defense. White is an awkward matchup for someone like Joseph, and each of their matches have been tight. A final against Marinelli or Wick would pose another very difficult challenge, considering how well both have wrestled so far. Give the edge to Joseph, but this is one of the toughest weights at Big Tens, and it's going to be a real battle for who gets the No. 1 overall seed between Joseph and Marinelli. 

174 Pounds - Top 8 Automatically Qualify 

  1. Mark Hall, PSU
  2. Myles Amine, MICH
  3. Dylan Lydy, PUR
  4. Mikey Labriola, NEB
  5. Devin Skatzka, MINN
  6. Ethan Smith, OSU
  7. Ryan Christensen, WIS
  8. Drew Hughes, MSU
  9. Joe Grello, RU
  10. Mitch Bowman, IOWA
  11. Carver James, ILL
  12. Jake Covaciu, IND
  13. Josh Ugalde, MD
  14. Braxton Cody, NU

This weight is very top heavy and the seeds for the top two here are spot on. Hall beat Myles Amine at the BJC earlier this season, and is of course undefeated. He's a clear number one overall candidate. Amine gets the No. 2 because he has no other conference losses than the one to Hall. Outside of these two, this weight can be complete chaos. Lydy is the rightful No. 3, but he's got some peculiar losses out of conference to Hayden Hastings, and he was pinned by Spencer Cary. Mikey Labriola's pinfall loss to Ryan Christensen keeps him from the three seed, even though he's probably the third best wrestler in the league at 174. This weight class could easily be a huge upset candidate come Saturday night. 

As for Mark Hall's journey to the final, it's set up well. The most difficult matchup that he could probably face is Labriola in the semifinals, but Hall is simply just on another level to the former Bethlehem Catholic standout. Labriola really had problems finding ways to finish against Hall, and that is probably the least surprising sentence in this article. Hall has never wrestled Drew Hughes, but he would be a big favorite. Hall hulk smashed Joe Grello with a 24-9 tech fall last season, but has not wrestled him apart from that. There should be little standing in Hall's way to a Big Ten final, but Amine has been a tough matchup in the past. We'll see how Hall fares this time around. 

184 Pounds - Top 8 Automatically Qualify

  1. Myles Martin, OSU
  2. Shakur Rasheed, PSU
  3. Tyler Venz, NEB
  4. Emery Parker, ILL
  5. Cash Wilcke, IOWA
  6. Mason Reinhardt, WIS
  7. Jelani Embree, MICH
  8. Max Lyon, PUR
  9. Nick Gravina, RU
  10. Cameron Caffey, MSU
  11. Norman Conley, IND
  12. Brandon Krone, MINN
  13. Kyle Jasenski, MD
  14. Brendan Devine, NU

This is by far the most controversially seeded weight at Big Tens. Myles Martin is the obvious No. 1 seed considering he's undefeated and mauling everyone in his path. However, despite Shakur Rasheed's talent, he does not have the resume of a No. 2 seed here. His best wins are over No. 6 Mason Reinhardt and No. 7 Jelani Embree, and he did not wrestle any of the top five. Rasheed very well may have the second most talent at this weight, but he probably should not be the second seed. Part of the reason Rasheed is there, however, is due to Venz, Parker and Wilcke packing themselves together. Venz beat Parker, Parker beat Wilcke and Wilcke beat Venz. Good luck trying to parse that.

Even though Rasheed is a very talented wrestler, he is still an unknown quantity at 184 pounds. His best win this season is over Andrew McNally (Kent State), who probably won't even make the podium. Rasheed will face the winner of Embree and Cameron Caffey. He has never wrestled Caffey, but he'd be the favorite. Rasheed's worst performance this season came against Embree, and he beat him 5-3. His most likely semifinal opponent will be Venz, but it's unclear how the two match up. There are also questions about Rasheed's health, so it is probably not impossible that Rasheed injury defaults out of Big Tens if he wins in the quarterfinals. Martin is another beast altogether, and the clear alpha of this weight class. Rasheed at his best may be able to give Martin a match, but Martin will be the favorite if we see them in the final this weekend. 

197 Pounds - Top 5 Automatically Qualify

  1. Bo Nickal, PSU
  2. Kollin Moore, OSU
  3. Jacob Warner, IOWA
  4. Christian Brunner, PUR
  5. Eric Schultz, NEB
  6. Jackson Striggow, MICH
  7. Dylan Anderson, MINN
  8. Brad Wilton, MSU

Bo Nickal is the only person to seed first here considering his pin over Kollin Moore. Nickal has been tremendous in his only season at 197 pounds, and he looks nearly unbeatable at this point in the season. His closest match all season was an 8-6 win over Eric Schultz, but outside of that decision, all of his other wins are by bonus points. Moore is a comfortable No. 2 seed, and Jacob Warner slots in fine at No. 3. This weight class is not all that deep this year, and Nickal could have a field day. 

Since this weight is not seeded all the way through, Nickal could wrestle a first round match against any of the unseeded competitors. He will be an overwhelming favorite in each of his first two matches. A potential semifinal with Schultz could at least be worth keeping an eye on considering the close match they had in Rec Hall. Either way, this is Nickal's weight to lose, and there's every reason to believe he could bonus point his way through the title. 

285 Pounds - Top 7 Automatically Qualify

  1. Gable Steveson, MINN
  2. Anthony Cassar, PSU
  3. Mason Parris, MICH
  4. Trent Hillger, WIS
  5. Chase Singletary, OSU
  6. Conan Jennings, NU
  7. David Jensen, NEB
  8. Sam Stoll, IOWA

The best the country has to offer at 285 pounds will be at the Big Ten Tournament too. Gable Steveson earned the first seed, and this is fine. Cassar easily earns the two-seed given that he's undefeated and beaten No. 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7. Steveson and Cassar is one of the most anticipated heavyweight matchups for March, and there's a very good chance we see it at Big Tens and the NCAA Tournament. The rest of the Big Ten seeding falls into place. 

Since this weight is not fully seeded, Cassar can have a first round matchup against any heavyweight that is not seeded. The toughest unseeded wrestler at heavyweight is Youssif Hemida (Maryland), who has had an injury filled season, but is a returning All-American. He's certainly not an easy opening round match if Cassar meets him. Hemida could do some real damage in this bracket depending who he gets in the first round if he's fully healthy. Outside of that, there really aren't that many potentially difficult matchups for Cassar in his half of the bracket. He majored No. 3 Mason Parris earlier this season, and comfortably beat No. 6 Conan Jennings and No. 7 David Jensen. All signs are pointing to a Steveson/Cassar showdown in the final, which would be must see on Sunday afternoon. 

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