It was pretty clear that Iowa was just better than Penn State at the Big Ten Wrestling Championships last weekend. The Hawkeyes beat Penn State at the top of the team standings by a comfortable 35.5-point margin, and both schools had 9 of their 10 wrestlers qualify for next week’s NCAA Tournament.
If the Lions had a tough mountain to climb for the Big Ten Tournament, it probably got just a little bit tougher on Tuesday when the NCAA released the at-large bids for nationals.
Both teams were missing their 149-pounders from their lineup. Iowa’s Max Murin, a graduate of Central Cambria High School, received an at-large bid. Penn State’s Beau Bartlett did not.
That gives the Hawkeyes a full lineup for the national tournament, giving an already heavy favorite even more weapons for the most important weekend of the year in college wrestling.
Iowa is joined by Lehigh and Missouri as the only teams with all 10 wrestlers qualified for nationals.
It’s nice to see Murin get the at-large bid. It will be his second trip to the NCAA Tournament. He had just one loss this year before the Big Ten Tournament, and it was to 149-pound Big Ten champion Sammy Sasso of Ohio State. One bad day should not end his season that quickly.
But the addition of Murin to Iowa’s lineup, and Penn State remaining with nine wrestlers qualified for NCAAs makes their quest for a national title that much tougher.
But as I wrote last week, I don’t think Penn State needs to worry about that anyway, even if Murin hadn’t received the at-large bid. The Hawkeyes are just too talented.
Seeds announced for tournament
The NCAA announced seeds for the tournament on Wednesday evening, and the Lions were led by top seed Aaron Brooks at 184.
Two more PSU wrestlers were seeded at second in 133-pounder Roman Bravo-Young and 141-pounder Nick Lee, while Carter Starocci is third at 174.
Heavyweight Greg Kerkvliet is No. 9, while Brady Berge is 12th at 157. Michael Beard is seeded 15th at 197, and Robert Howard and Joe Lee are both seeded 23rd at 125 and 165, respectively.
To compare to Iowa, they have four No. 1 seeds, four more in the top five, and two more at No. 12. It wouldn’t be impossible for all 10 of the Hawkeyes to be on the podium in the top eight.
Sneak preview of predictions
I’m going to wait until next week to give my full predictions for NCAAs, but I will give you one to hold you over until then.
Penn State will have at least one national champion.
I know the suspense must be eating at you. Wait until next week.