Sunday, March 6, 2022

BIG 10 - I Need An At Large/Wildcard Bid

 When it comes to the BIG 10 tournament it's not too difficult to make a case for those who didn't automatically qualify to get an At Large/Wildcard bid.  Matter of fact, it's hard to make a case against a BIG 10 wrestler when it come to who should & who shouldn't get the bids.  Obviously not all of the wrestlers I mention will get into the NCAA tournament, but fact remains, they all make the grade.

133 lbs 
Kyle Burwick of Wisconsin 

Their are better cases in the BIG 10, but I still think Burwick makes a case. What he has going against him is that he finished out with a losing record & out of the top 33 in the rankings. That there may be enough to disqualify him, but he does own a 6-4 sudden victory over Jake Gliva of Minnesota & a 6-4 decision over Dominic LaJoie of Cornell, who I made a case for in the EIWA for who is eligible for an At Large/Wildcard bid. 

141 lbs 
Chad Red Jr of Nebraska 

My heart goes out to Chad Red of Nebraska. His final BIG 10 tournament & for it to end on such a sour note. To put salt in an open wound, held at the University of Nebraska too. Nevertheless, Hell yes he makes an argument for an At Large/Wildcard bid. Within the BIG 10 alone he has a 3-1 victory over Dylan D'Emilio of Ohio State, a 7-3 victory over Stevan Micic of Michigan & a 4-2 victory over Frankie Tal-Shahar of Northwestern. Not to mention he also owns a 4-2 decision over Grant Willits of Oregon State. I'll be appalled if he doesn't get in. 

141 lbs 
Parker Filius Purdue 

What kind of a world do we live in where you can beat Stevan Micic of Michigan & Chad Red Jr of Nebraska in the same tournament and still not qualify!?!?!?!??!?!?!?  Ah!!!  Man, that is nuts!!  Finishing in 8th place, one match shy of qualification Filius also has going for him that he's ranked #31, with other quality wins including 7-5 over MAC Champ Quinn Kinner of Rider, 9-4 over Grant Willits of Oregon State & 7-2 over EIWA 3rd placer Wil Gil of Franklin & Marshall. 

141 lbs 
Joe Zargo Wisconsin 

Zargo was yet another 141 lbs'er in the BIG 10 that didn't qualify naturally who needs an At Large/Wildcard bid in order to get into the 2022 NCAA tournament. Zargo at the time of the BIG 10's had a #22 ranking, with two victories of Filius 6-4 SV & 7-4, as well as a 9-4 win over Northern Iowa's Cael Happel. 

**NOTE** - Some may think that I ought to make a case for Dylan Duncan of Illinois.  I'd like to, but the thing is you have to wrestle. You have to have those matches.  Standing a 3-4, with his best win being over Frankie Tal Shahar of Northwestern, I just can't. It breaks my heart to think that a four time NCAA qualifier, who was an AA last season will be staying home, but I believe that's the case. 

149 lbs 
Christian Kanzler of Illinois 

I'd like to think Christian Kanzler of Illinois is in the discussion for an At Large/Wildcard bid into the NCAA's. Ranked #29, best wins including 7-3 over Marshall Keller of Princeton & 13-8 over Michael Blockhus of Minnesota. 

149 lbs
Yahya Thomas of Northwestern 

Might as well take this one to the bank. Place you bets, lay your money down, it's a lock that Thomas is getting into the NCAA's, or at least it should be. #11 ranking, wins over Legend Lamer of Cal Poly, Jaden Abas of Stanford, Jarod Verkleeren of Virginia, Michael Blockhus of Minnesota & Kanzler. 

149 lbs 
Graham Rooks of Indiana 

Probably not gonna happen, but he does own a 4-3 victory over MAC champion Kody Komara of Kent State as well as a 4-1 victory over Kanen Storr of Michigan. 

149 lbs 
Kanen Storr of Michigan 

Jason Bryant has been telling me since I was 14 years old that, "You can't put so much emphasis on one win."  And you know what? He's right. Yet I'm almost certain that Yahya Thomas of Northwestern gets in & how can I leave out Storr who defeated Thomas 8-7.  At the end of the day, I think the likelihood is that G Rooks & Storr stay home while Thomas goes.  Storr was 8th though in a bracket that took 7. 

157 lbs 
Chase Saldate of Michigan State 

Chase Saldate makes a very good case for an At Large/Wildcard bid into the NCAA's. #16 record & on his list of wins he has MAC champion Ben Barton of Lock Haven, MAC Runner-up Johnny Lovett of Central Michigan & for what it's worth Brock Mauller of Missouri.  He was also a Southern Scuffle Runner-up earlier this season. 

165 lbs 
Danny Braunagel of Illinois 

It takes a lot of guts to go into the BIG 10's in 2022 & forfeit out 0-2. Yet Braunagel & the Illinois coaching staff had the confidence that he'd get an At Large/Wildcard bid & to their credit, for good reason.  He's ranked #27 in the nation with a # of quality wins on the season.  A 6-2 victory over SOCON Runner-up Drew Nicholson of Chattanooga with a 14-3 win over David Ferrante of Northwestern, a 8-6 sudden victor over Cael Carlson of Minnesota & a 12-2 major decision over Bubba Wilson of Nebraska, all who did qualify in the BIG 10. 

Creighton Edsell of Penn State 

Edsell makes a case & you know good and well that Penn State is going to want him & any points he might add at the NCAA's. A #23 ranking with a 6-4 sudden victory over Lucas Revano of Penn & a 2-1 victory over Brian Meyer of Lehigh, someone he's competing with for an At Large/Wildcard bid. 

165 lbs 
Caleb Fish of Michigan State 

Fish isn't ranked, but what he does have going for him is that he finished in 8th place at the BIG 10's, one match shy of qualification.  Secondly he owns a 2:20 fall over David Ferrante of Northwestern & he defeated EIWA 3rd place finisher Zach Hartman of Bucknell 9-5. 

174 lbs 
Gerrit Nijenhuis of Purdue 

Nijenhuis makes a good case for NCAA qualification.  Ranke #21 with wins over MAC champ Mason Kauffman of Northern Illinois, Anthony Mantanona of Oklahoma, EIWA runner-up Nick Incontrera of Pennsylvania & Mikey Labriola of Nebraska. He was 9th, which was one match shy of qualification in the BIG 10. 

174 lbs 
Bailee O'Reilly of Minnesota 

Making just as good of a case, if not maybe better than Nijenhuis is Bailee O'Reilly of Minnesota. he was looking great at the BIG 10's until he got hurt. Just thrashed Andrew McNally of Wisconsin in the opening round 14-1, until injury got the best of him in the Quarters against Labriola.  Ranked #18 in the nation ought to help him get into the NCAA's. Wins over Troy Fisher of Northwestern as well as Nijenhuis. Not to mention took an impressive 3rd at the Southern Scuffle. 

174 lbs 
Andrew McNally of Wisconsin 

I'll put a word in for McNally.  With only four At Large Bids available at 174 & presumably both O'Reilly & Nijenhuis ahead of him in the line, it doesn't look promising but the chances are still there. He does own a 3-1 victory over Troy Fisher of Northwestern & a 6:37 fall over Dominic Solis of Maryland.  If anything gives testimony to the toughness that is the BIG 10, consider this....McNally is a three time MAC finalist. 

184 lbs 
D.J. Washington of Indiana 

Ranked #16 with wins over MAC runner-up Colin McCracken of Kent State & Layne Malczewski of Michigan State. He also owns a 7-3 win over Max Lyon of Purdue, who I'm about to make a case for now. 

184 lbs 
Max Lyon of Purdue 

Lyon has a losing record this season but all things considered that shouldn't be held against him when At Large/Wildcard bids are selected. He's more than proven what he's capable of this season, despite having the unfortunateness of being in the overall toughest conference bracket in NCAA DI wrestling.  He defeated MAC runner-up Colin McCracken 6-2. Then within the BIG 10 this season he owns a 7-2 victory over Taylor Venz of Nebraska, a 4-3 victory over Isaiah Salazar of Minnesota & a 3-1 sudden victory over Jack Jessen of Northwestern. He also placed 7th at CKLV, who many will argue is the toughest in season tournament in the nation. 

197 lbs 
Jaron Smith of Maryland 

197 lbs in the BIG 10 sure was a tough bracket too & Maryland's Jaron Smith finished one match shy of NCAA qualification.  Ranked #29, he has wins over Pat Brucki of Michigan (who took 3rd in the BIG 10), Owen Pentz of North Dakota State & Jake Koser of Navy who finished 3rd in the EIWA. 


Well your honors, not sure if I'll get judgment passed in favor of any of these guys but I do feel I made a decent case for all of them. Truth is, there is a tremendous amount of talent here. It's really a shame that any of them have to stay home, but in a way there's a positive that comes out of this.  It illustrates just how incredibly tough it is to even call yourself an NCAA qualifier. Let alone an All American or an NCAA champion. If toughness were somehow measured, it'd be as tall a Mount Everest. Actually, it'd be more like Olympus Mons. 

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