In a recent post, I came up with an extra 159 NCAA Division I wrestling programs that we would have on top of the 79 that we currently have (2020-2021 season) for a total of 238 programs, if no team had ever dropped their wrestling program.
That's a lot of wrestling teams in NCAA Division I wrestling. Can you imagine 238 teams? What would that look like?
Could we get away with only qualifying 32 or 33 wrestlers for the NCAA championships? As of right now 33/79 is about 42%. 33/238 is about 14%. In recent times out of the 79 teams we have, most qualify at least one wrestler every three years. Sacred Heart & Davidson being the exceptions as of recent years.
With 238 teams & only 33 qualifiers, there is going to be a much larger number of schools without qualifiers.
I've came up with a few ideas. None of them perfect.
Right now we have 7 Conferences/Qualifiers in NCAA wrestling. If you have each conference have 32 teams, that accounts for 145 teams, leaving 14 teams unaccounted for. A 32 man bracket for each of the 7 conferences would make things simpler, but in this case you'd have to add two extra teams, so each conference would have 34 teams.
That's if we kept things as they are.
If you took the top eight qualifiers from each conference, that's 56 wrestlers per weight qualified, with 8 open Wildcard slots per weight.
That'd make a 64 man bracket for the NCAA's. Adding at least one if not two days to the tournament.
I don't think anyone, coach, wrestlers, fans, would go for that.
So Now what?
7 Conferences/Qualifiers x 34 teams allots for all 238 teams that we would have.
8 Qualifiers per conference ='s 56 Qualifiers per weight + 8 Wildcards per weight
I would think we'd almost have to have another qualifier. Like how some states for high school wrestling have sectionals & then Districts before state or some have Regionals & then sectionals before state? Hell, some even have more than two.
Shame there isn't a eighth Conference/Qualifier. That'd certainly make it easier. If there were eight instead of seven, that'd make it a more workable number.
You could take the top eight qualifiers in four of the Conferences/qualifiers for one regional.
Problem is the other would only have three conferences/qualifiers left over.
So we're looking at a 32 man bracket for one regional Vs a 24 man bracket for the other. The only way to solve this problem it seems would be to take the eight Wildcards & put them into the other Regional, to make it a 32 man bracket. Seems good on paper, until you factor in geography & costs.
I said my idea had flaws in it & it does. Still thinking out loud.
What I have so far....
7 Conferences/Qualifiers. Each has 34 teams. Each qualifies top 8 wrestlers for Regionals.
That leaves 56 wrestlers qualified per weight with 8 wildcards selected per weight.
Regional I has 32 wrestlers from four Conferences per bracket
Regional II has 24 wrestlers from three Conferences per bracket + 8 wildcards to make the 32
Regional I & Regional II both qualify the top 8 for the NCAA tournament.
And now would this be a problem?
Before We ran into the problem of 64 Qualifies & adding a day or two being something coaches, wrestlers, fans & may I add administrators/athletic directors NOT going for.
BUT...would 16 NCAA qualifiers be as much of a problem? It potentially takes away a day. Thus cutting costs? I think some would be happy about this, but with only 16 NCAA qualifiers out of 238 teams, I can only imagine the negative backlash.
So there you have two of my ideas & neither is perfect. In fact, both are far from perfect but they're what I've came up with.
Now where do you put the extra 159 teams?
Well I've done it a couple of different ways & no matter how I do it, there are teams in conferences that make no sense. Sort of how Little Rock in the PAC-12 at the time being, Geographically makes little sense.
I think I did an ok job with exception to the BIG 12. I cover the whole country, West to East, North to South & I know that would never fly for a qualifier. So I don't know.
Here's what I came up with
North Carolina State
North Carolina A&T
South Carolina State
William & Mary
Franklin & Marshall
Maryland Eastern Shore
Rhode Island U
Southeast Missouri State
Cal State Bakersfield
U of Pacific
San Diego State
San Jose State
UC Santa Barbara
Cal Poly Pomona
Long Beach State
Texas El Paso
Middle Tennessee State
North Dakota State
South Dakota State
New Mexico State