It's no secret that the Big Ten is the preeminent wrestling conference in the country, but the allocation of automatic qualifier bids to the NCAA tournament serves as a tangible reminder. The conference leads all others in automatic qualifications this year with 80, up from 77 last season.
The allocations, which are based on the number of athletes in each conference ranked by the coaches and via RPI, have the Big Ten with nearly twice as many automatic bids to the 2018 NCAA Wrestling Tournament in Cleveland than any other conference. The Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association comes in second, with 47, just ahead of the Big 12, with 45.
Each qualifying tournament was awarded spots per weight class based on current year data. Each wrestler was measured on the following: Division I winning percentage at the weight class; ratings percentage index (RPI); and coaches’ ranking.
For each wrestler that reached the threshold in at least two of the three categories, his qualifying tournament was awarded a qualifying spot in that weight class. Each qualifying tournament, with automatic qualifying status, was awarded a minimum of one wrestler per weight class, which will go to the tournament champion, even if they did not have any wrestlers reach at least two of the three thresholds. NCAA tournament spots for each qualifying event will be awarded at the tournament based solely on place-finish.
So 80 wrestlers will earn bids based on their performance in the Big 10 Tournament, March 3-4 in East Lansing, Mich., along with 203 wrestlers from the other D1 conferences at their respective tournaments. Another 47 combatants will be awarded at-large bids after the conference tournaments conclude, to round out the field of 33 wrestlers in each of the 10 weight classes.
|Atlantic Coast Conference||2||5||3||4||3||2||4||3||3||5||34|
|Big 12 Conference||7||5||3||5||3||6||5||4||4||3||45|
|Big Ten Conference||10||7||8||9||8||10||7||8||6||7||80|
|Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestlings Association||1||3||4||4||6||6||5||7||6||5||47|
|Eastern Wrestling League||2||1||4||1||2||2||1||2||1||2||18|
Along with the allocations, the NCAA also released the most recent Coaches Panel and RPI rankings, based on action from the final week of the regular season.
All 10 of Ohio State's starters were ranked in the Top 14 of their respective classes by the Coaches Panel, and seven of 10 were ranked in the Top 10 by RPI. Nathan Tomasello, Joey McKenna and Kyle Snyder did not meet the threshold of 17 matches against D1 opponents to qualify for the RPI rankings.
A few things jump out from the rankings. First, Te'Shan Campbell has wrestled one of the toughest schedules in NCAA wrestling this season. It was easy to jump all over him for his six-match skid in the meat of the team's schedule, but one would be hard-pressed to find many who wrestled the number of ranked foes Campbell did, facing at least nine by my count.
His season was a bit of a head-scratcher, perhaps for that reason. Through six duals and two tournaments, Campbell had a record of 14-2 with wins over then-No. 6 and then No. 11, with losses to then-No. 5 and the rematch to then-No. 11 Isaiah White. But from Rutgers through Michigan, Campbell lost to No. 15, No. 9, No. 8, No. 1 and No. 9 - with an inexplicable loss to an unranked opponent along the way.
Beyond that, things shake out just about as you'd expect given the ups and downs some members of the team faced along the way. Tomasello probably should be higher, but his loss to Iowa's Spencer Lee caused the panel to think twice about the former NCAA champ.
Kollin Moore looks about right after dropping two of hits three final matches of the season, and given the success of the two guys ahead of him in the panel.
The journey to the Buckeye wrestlers' ultimate goal of winning a national title, is officially underway.