The NCAA released the 1st of four Coaches Panel rankings today. Cyclone Wrestlers made the cut in nine of the ten weight classes.
Why Does This Ranking Matter?
Earning an NCAA Allocation is especially important this season due to some politics taking place between the Big XII and the NCAA Wrestling Committee and the Coaches Panel ranking is one of the three legs used to determine allocations. The other two legs are RPI (which will be released on February 12th and again just before allocations are announced) and win percentage.
29 spots are pre-allocated by the NCAA to wrestlers who meet at least two of the three legs. Due to politics, the Big XII tournament is not being considered a qualifier this season, and no one has made it clear exactly what that means other than we can't count on stealing any spots like we have in years past. My (possibly wrong) understanding is that any allocations earned by a Big XII wrestler will be held back in the at large pool and not actually awarded until after all the qualifying tournaments have finished. Which means we'd be at risk of losing spots if there are a lot of upsets elsewhere.
|Coaches Panel Ranking||
A ranking in the top 27 or so is generally enough to earn this leg
Just like the RPI the Basketball Committee uses,. Again, having a top 27 or so RPI is generally enough to earn this leg. Only matches against Division 1 wrestlers count for RPI.
A win percentage of ~0.700 against Division 1 competition is required to earn this leg. The exact value can vary a small amount to reach 29 allocations
Where Do We Stand With The Other Two Legs?
Not that bad. We won't know where guys stand on RPI for a few more weeks but Cyclone wrestlers are above .700 currently at six of ten weight classes. And with six duals remaining both Dante Rodriguez and Luke Goettl have the chance to improve their record to above 0.700. At 125 and HWT the Cyclones have been mathematically eliminated from the win percentage leg.
|Weight||Wrestler||Division 1 Record||Division 1 Win Percentage|
How Many Cyclones Are Going To Earn A Spot At NCAAs?
Good question. Right now I'd say we're solidly in at 133, 149, 165, 174, 184, and 197. Six wrestlers are well on their way to earning spots. So what's going on at the other four weights?
At 125 Kyle Larson is out of the running for win percentage, so he's going to be counting on the coaches panel and RPI. Larson has faced a tough slate of opponents this season so his RPI should be good enough to earn that leg. Which leaves the coaches panel. Right now Larson is in the panel, but slightly to low for a spot. He needs to move up from 30th to 25th or 26th to be comfortable. In our remaining six duals, Larson will get five wrestlers ranked in the current panel. #5 Levi Peters of UNI, #8 Eddie Klimara of Oklahoma State, #19 Zeke Moisey of West Virginia, and tied at #33 Ares Carpio of Arizona State & Ryan Milhoff of Oklahoma. Larson needs to beat the guys at #33 for sure, but to be safe he also needs to upset Moisey as well. If Larson goes 4-2 with losses to Peters and Klimara he has a very good chance of making the cut for St. Louis.
Only one wrestler per weight can be considered for a ranking and Dante Rodriguez got the nod for this round. While that doesn't mean Meeks is out of consideration, I think that shows Dante has the inside track, so I'll focus on him for now. Dante's coaches panel ranking is sufficient for now but he can't afford any slip ups. Additionally, I'm not sure his RPI will be all that great (and if Meeks wrestles in any of the remaining duals Dante won't hit 17 D1 matches anyway), he needs to hit the .700 win percentage and keep his ranking to punch his ticket. This means he can only afford to lose one more match the rest of the season. He needs to take care of business against the three unranked guys on the schedule and can't afford a loss against #25 Kraus of Arizona State. He also needs to get an upset win against either #18 Dean Heil of Oklahoma State this weekend or #13 Mike Morales of West Virginia the next. In fact, I think it would be smart of the coaches, if he loses to Heil, to send out Meeks against Morales in order to make sure Dante doesn't take a second loss there. If Dante knocks off Heil on Sunday I think he's got a very good chance of earning an allocation. If he loses, things get a little dicey. But he won't be totally out of the running.
Luke's position is pretty comparable to Dante's, though he has a better chance at a decent RPI. Goettl currently sits just below 0.700 but a 5-1 finish to the season would give him a 0.737 mark and give him that leg. That means knocking off all three unranked guys on the schedule, Getting a win over #29 Oliver Pierce of Arizona State, and scoring an upset against either #20 Anthony Collica of Oklahoma State on Sunday, or against #10 Justin DeAngelis of Oklahoma. If Goettl beats Collica I think he can be penciled in for a spot. But if he loses he have to get the RPI leg and hope the coaches don't drop him in the rankings going forward if he's going to earn his third trip to NCAAs.
Quean, I have to think, will make the cut for RPI. Five of his seven losses have been to wrestlers in the rankings and all six of his remaining opponents are in the top 33. But with a 0.700 record not in the cards he'll need to knock off both #28 Chace Eskam of Arizona State and #29 AJ Vizcarrando of West Virginia for sure, and most likely find a way to get one win over the other four (all in the top ten) opponents on his schedule in order to move himself into the rankings. Luckily for Quean, one of those top ten guys is #8 Ross Larson of Oklahoma, against whom Quean is 2-0. If Smith is 3-3 for the rest of the season, I think he's going to St. Louis. If he's 2-4 he's got a small chance. 1-5 or 0-6 and he can hit the buffet early.
No, Really, How Many Cyclones Are Going To Qualify For NCAAs?
We'll know a lot better after the 141 and 157 pound matches this weekend. But if I were to guess right now I'd say we'll get 8, maybe 9. The six who are currently on track, Larson at 125, and then one or two of the other three weights. Check back again on February 12th when an updated Coaches Panel, and the first RPI, become available and the picture will be significantly more clear. Hopefully we'll also have some official word by then how qualifying out of the Big XII is going to work.