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Midseason NCAA Qualification Outlook

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A Look At Where the Cyclone Wrestlers Stand Going In To The Second Semester

St. Louis Arch at Night Photo by Todd A. Swift

With the big in season tournaments in the rearview mirror, its worthwhile to check in to see where the Cyclone Wrestlers stand for earning an NCAA allocation for the conference. Remember that wrestlers do not directly qualify for NCAAs regardless of their record - spots are earned for the conference tournament and wrestlers can steal a spot (or have a spot stolen from them) based on how they perform at Big XIIs. For example, if the Big XII earns three allocations at 149 pounds then the top three placewinners at 149 are going to St. Louis regardless of whether or not they were the three wrestlers who earned allocations for the conference. Any wrestler who earns a bid but fails to punch their ticket has to hope they can earn one of the 4 at large spots held back for post conference tournament invitations.

How Do you Earn An Allocation?

Twenty-nine spots total are allocated to the various conference tournaments at each weight by a selection committee. To earn an allocation for the Big XII conference tournament at their weight, a wrestler must meet two of the three criteria below.

Leg Criteria
Coaches Panel Ranking A ranking in the top 27 or so is generally enough to earn this leg
RPI 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.
Win Percentage 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

Note: To be eligible for an RPI a wrestler must have 17 matches against D-1 opponents.

In the terminology used by the selection committee, wrestlers who meet one of the qualifying legs are considered Bronze Standard wrestlers and do not earn allocations but are eligible for at large bids. Wrestlers who meet two qualifying legs are considered Silver Standard and earn an allocation. As do those who meet all three, who are considered to be Gold Standard. We’ll use the same terminology below.

The first coaches panel won’t come out until later this month, and the first RPI (and second Coaches Panel ) won’t be released until mid February. So there is some guesswork involved, but the season is far enough along to take a stab at where things will stand when allocations are released just before the conference tournaments kick off at the end of February.

2013 NCAA Division 1 Westling Championships Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images

How Are The Cyclones Likely to Break Down?

125: Marcus Simmons - Gold Standard

With an 11-4 D-1 record so far on the season that includes a ranked win over #17 Josh Terao of American Simmons has put himself in position to meet all three qualifying legs.

Remaining Ranked Opponents (From 1/4/17 Intermat Rankings)

Rank Wrestler School
6 Ethan Lizak Minnesota
11 Dylan Peters Northern Iowa
12 Nick Piccininni Oklahoma State

What does Simmons need to do to earn an NCAA Allocation?

To earn an allocation Simmons just needs to settle in to his weight cut and keep doing what he’s doing. A 5-3 record that included wins over the unranked opponents on the schedule will put him at just a hair under 0.700, assure him a spot in the coaches panel rankings, and should be enough to give him a top 27 RPI. Even if he misses the RPI leg he’ll still meet the Silver Standard and get an allocation. If he goes 4-4 things could start to get a little dicey and at 3-5 or worse he might wrestle himself out of contention.

133: Earl Hall - Gold Standard

Though Hall has had some disappointing losses so far this season his 14-5 record against D-1 opponents should still put him on track to meet all three qualifying legs.

Remaining Ranked Opponents (From 1/4/17 Intermat Rankings)

Rank Wrestler School
5 Kaid Brock Oklahoma State
7 Dom Forys Pittsburgh
10 Josh Alber Northern Iowa
16 Mitchell McKee Minnesota

What Does Hall Need To Do To Earn An NCAA Allocation?

Hall needs to go 5-3 to be sure of earning a qualification. A record that would include at least one ranked win and no unranked losses. That would assure him a spot in the coaches panel, keep his D-1 record above 0.700, and likely give him a top RPI. Like Simmons, at 4-4 things could start to get a little dicey as he’d miss at least the win percentage leg and would have to hope he could keep his RPI up. Though as a returning 2 time All American he’d probably still be in the coaches panel. At 3-5 Hall could conceivably still hit the coaches panel and RPI legs, but if he did it would be by the skin of his teeth. 2- 6 or worse and Hall would wrestle himself out of an allocation for sure.

141: John Meeks - No Legs Met

With a 3-5 D-1 record Meeks can’t hit the win percentage leg even if he managed to go 8-0. Unless something drastic happens his only chance for St. Louis will be to steal a spot from another 141 pounder at the Big XIIs. It is worth noting, however, that true freshman Kanen Storr would almost assuredly be a Gold Standard wrestler based on his results from Midlands. So if Jackson were to choose to pull Storr’s redshirt the outlook at this weight would look a lot different.

Remaining Ranked Opponents (From 1/4/17 Intermat Rankings)

Rank Wrestler School
1 Dean Heil Oklahoma State
5 Joey Ward North Carolina
9 Tommy Thorn Minnesota

What Does Meeks Need To Do To Earn An NCAA Allocation?

He can’t unless he find an open tournament to go. If he manages to go 6-2 and knock off a top ten wrestler in the process he’d almost surely be included in the coaches panel. But with only 16 D-1 matches under his belt he won’t be eligible for an RPI, and as noted above his win percentage will be under 0.700 even if he wins all 8 duals. So his only path to qualification would be to go 6-2 or better in duals and also go to an Open tournament, pick up at least 1 D-1 win, and then hope he makes it in to the top 27 or so in the RPI.

149: Chase Straw - Silver Standard

With an 11-6 D-1 record so far this season, Straw is going to struggle to hit the 0.700 qualification leg. But most of his losses are to ranked wrestlers and he’s got some wins over guys that are likely to show up in the 21-27 range of the coaches panel so if he continues to wrestle as he has he’s likely to hit the Coaches Panel and RPI qualification legs.

Remaining Ranked Opponents (From 1/4/17 Intermat Rankings)

Rank Wrestler School
3 Anthony Collica Oklahoma State
8 Max Thomsen Northern Iowa
12 Davion Jeffries Oklahoma

What Does Straw Need To Do To Earn An NCAA Allocation?

Straw would need to go 7-1 to hit the 0.700 leg, which would mean beating all the unranked guys that he sees and picking off two top twelve wrestlers. That’s unlikely to happen. But if he can go 5-3 to beat all the unranked guys and look respectable against Collica, Thomsen, and Jeffries he should hit the Silver Standard with no problem. Like at 125 and 133, things would start to get dicey at 4-4. At 3-5 or worse Straw would likely be on the outside looking in going in to Big XIIs.

157: Colston Diblasi - Silver Standard

With a 12-8 D-1 record, Diblasi would need to go undefeated the rest of the season to earn the 0.700 qualification leg. And with two top ten wrestlers left on the schedule at 157 that’s unlikely to happen. However, Diblasi has a win over #12 ranked Archie Colgan of Wyoming and several close losses to top ten opponents. So he’d almost assuredly be in the coaches panel if it came out today and the fact that he’ll end up wrestling a good chunk of his season against top 20 competition bodes well for a decent RPI.

Remaining Ranked Opponents (From 1/4/17 Intermat Rankings)

Rank Wrestler School
6 Joe Smith Oklahoma State
9 Jake Short Minnesota
14 Josh Shields Arizona State
17 DaWaylon Barnes Oklahoma

What Does Diblasi Need To Do To Earn An NCAA Allocation?

Diblasi would need to go 8-0 to earn the 0.700 qualification leg, which is unlikely given the upcoming schedule. However, if he can beat the unranked guys on the schedule and knock off either Josh Shields of Arizona State or DaWaylon Barnes of Oklahoma to go 5-3 he should be a shoe in for Silver Standard. If he goes 4-4 he’s probably still in as long as one of those four wins is over a ranked opponent. 4-4 with no ranked wins and he’s borderline. 3-5 or worse and Diblasi will have to steal himself a spot.

165: Dane Pestano - Bronze Standard

With a 5-6 D-1 record so far this season, Pestano would need to go undefeated the rest of the reason to earn the 0.700 qualification leg. And with no ranked wins and some bad losses Pestano is unlikely to show up in the coaches panel. However, with the brutal upcoming schedule Pestano has an excellent chance to have a top 27 RPI to earn the Bronze Standard.

Remaining Ranked Opponents (From 1/4/17 Intermat Rankings)

Rank Wrestler School
4 Dylan Cottrell West Virginia
7 Chandler Rogers Oklahoma State
9 Anthony Valencia Arizona State
10 Bryce Steiert Northern Iowa
12 Clark Glass Oklahoma
13 TeShan Campbell Pittsburgh
14 Nick Wanzek Minnesota

What Does Pestano Need To Do To Earn An NCAA Allocation?

Hulk out, basically. If Pestano could somehow manage to go 4-4 with three wins over currently ranked wrestlers he would have a pretty good shot at showing up in the final coaches panel. And a 9-10 record against the competition he will have faced over the course of the season would almost assure a decent RPI. Get that done and he’d be looking at Silver Standard and another allocation at 165 for the Big XII. At 3-5 he might have a shot if he had some close matches in the losses against top guys. 2-6 or worse and he’d surely have to steal a spot.

174: Lelund Weatherspoon - Gold Standard

With a 14-5 D-1 record so far this season, Weatherspoon is currently on track to be above 0.700 for the season. And with a ranked win over Meyer plus all five of his losses coming against guys who are likely to be Silver or Gold Standard themselves, Lelund should safely meet the Coaches Panel and RPI legs with room to spare.

Remaining Ranked Opponents (From 1/4/17 Intermat Rankings)

Rank Wrestler School
3 Zahid Valencia Arizona State
5 Kyle Crutchmer Oklahoma State
7 Ethan Ramos North Carolina
11 Taylor Lujan Northern Iowa

What Does Weatherspoon Need To Do To Earn An NCAA Allocation?

Weatherspoon needs to go 5-3 or better to earn the 0.700 qualification leg, which will be tough but doable with four top 11 ranked wrestlers on the schedule. But even if he loses to all of them to go 4-4 his tough schedule combined with the win over Meyer at Midlands should be enough to keep him at the Silver Standard. At 3-5 things get questionable and at 2-6 or worse he’d likely have wrestled himself out of an allocation. I don’t expect Jackson to do this, but it would actually be much better for Weatherspoon’s allocation chances and NCAA seeding outlook for him to not wrestle a third time against Valencia at the Arizona State dual.

184: Pat Downey - Silver Standard

With just 2 D-1 matches at 184 so far this season, Downey has no chance at earning an RPI, but his 2-0 record puts him on track for the 0.700 leg and his history plus a win over the currently #8 ranked 197 pounder means he should have no problem at all with the Coaches Panel leg.

Remaining Ranked Opponents (From 1/4/17 Intermat Rankings)

Rank Wrestler School
5 Nolan Boyd Oklahoma State
16 Drew Foster Northern Iowa
20 Chip Ness North Carolina

What Does Downey Need To Do To Earn An NCAA Allocation?

Downey needs to go 5-3 or better to hit the 0.700 qualification leg and that’s also probably the record he needs to get a spot in the coaches panel. Though 6-2 with a win over either Foster of UNI or Ness of UNC would take any apprehension out of it. At 4-4 or worse Downey would have to steal a spot in Oklahoma City.

197: Marcus Harrington - No Legs Met

Whether it is due to his early neck injury or something else, Harrington has had a rough 2-4 D-1 start to the season. With a record like that he’s almost certainly out of the Coaches Panel. And like Meeks Harrington isn’t on pace for the 17 matches he needs to even be considered for an RPI. If his season continues as it has been going Harrington is unlikely to meet any of the qualification legs.

Remaining Ranked Opponents (From 1/4/17 Intermat Rankings)

Rank Wrestler School
2 Brett Pfarr Minnesota
4 Preston Weigel Oklahoma State
6 Jake Smith West Virginia

What Does Harington Need To Do To Earn An NCAA Allocation?

Harrington would need to go 8-0 to hit a 0.700 record, which is unlikely. But if he manages to beat all five of the unranked guys on the schedule and also knock off one of the three top ten oppenents he’ll see that might be just enough to get him a spot in the Coaches Panel. But he’d still be short of the 17 matches he needs for an RPI. So in addition to a 6-2 or better dual record Harrington would also need to find an Open tournament where he can pick up at least one D-1 win to hit the 17 match minimum.

HWT: Quean Smith - No Legs Met

Smith was looking good after Vegas but he crashed and burned at Midlands and took him from likely reaching Silver or Gold Standard to possibly being on the outside looking in when allocations are announced. His 6-4 record puts him behind on reaching 0.700 and those bad losses might have knocked him out of both the Coaches Panel and RPI.

Remaining Ranked Opponents (From 1/4/17 Intermat Rankings)

Rank Wrestler School
4 Tanner Hall Arizona State
8 Michael Kroells Minnesota
9 Austin Schafer Oklahoma State
19 Ross Larson Oklahoma
20 Ryan Solomon Pittsburgh

What Does Smith Need To Do To Earn An NCAA Allocation?

Of the three wrestlers who currently aren’t on track to meet any of the three legs Quean has by far the most realistic path to recovery. If he can beat the three unranked wrestlers ahead of him and knock off #19 Larson and #20 Solomon that would give him an 11-7 D-1 record with some good wins to get in to the Coaches Panel and should be enough to get him on the borderline of a top 27 RPI. And Smith has beaten wrestlers of that caliber in the past so wins over those two would not be huge upsets. At that point Smith would be Silver Standard and earn the Big XII an allocation at Heavyweight.

Parting Thoughts

The team isn’t where we hoped they’d be before the season started, but a solid end to the season could realistically lead to seven of the ten weight classes earning allocations - or eight if Storr’s redshirt is pulled. It is also important to keep in mind that there is not a direct relationship between whether a wrestler has earned an allocation and their likelyhood of punching a ticket to St. Louis. Depending on how many wrestlers overall earn allocations for the conference someone like Meeks or Harrington could be in a situation like Larson was in last year where all they have to do is get a small upset against fringe top 29 wrestlers to steal a spot. While on the other extreme if the conference only earns 1-2 spots at a given weight a likely Silver Standard guy like Diblasi or Straw might have no room for error to earn a spot and could even find themselves seeded such that they’d need an upset to cash in an allocation that they themselves had earned.

What’s Next?

We’ll get our first look at the whole conference as well as where guys just outside the top 20 stand near the end of January when the first Coaches Panel ranking is released.