The Mizzou Tigers will look to defend their MAC Wrestling Championship this coming weekend as they travel to Kent State for the two-day tournament on Saturday and Sunday. For the uninitiated, the conference tournament has two, very important functions. One is the obvious: To determine individual and conference champions. The second may be almost as important, as the results serve as the gateway for qualification for the NCAA Tournament (to be held in OKC March 20-22). The NCAA determines how many people will come out of each weight class in each conference based on the following:
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; rating 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.
There are some wild-card spots to be awarded after all the tourneys are done, but it only accounts for four people per weight class across the nation. While Mizzou wrestlers have been awarded spots via this method before, it is obviously much better not to worry about it and take care of business at the tourney.
So let’s talk about the tourney BST. What are your initial thoughts about how the Tigers were seeded?
My initial thoughts are that we should quiz everyone on the NCAA qualifying process in 1 week. I understand how they're trying to do it but man could it be any more complicated and volatile.
Anywho, on to the Tigers. I was watching my twitter feed yesterday as the Mizzou wrestling account was tweeting out the seedings. I honestly thought they had mis-typed the Houdashelt and Cox seedings. They are ranked 1st and 2nd in the country currently. Neither has lost in months. They do each have one loss to the wrestler ranked ahead of them but they were both back in early December. Houadshelt has not lost since (its his only loss of the season) and Cox has one loss since (1-3 sudden victory loss to the #1 ranked wrestler in the country).
To go even further, Tywan Claxton is seeded #1 ahead of Houdashelt. Claxton is 24-4 on the season and has lost 3 times since he matched up with Drake. Claxton is also currently ranked #17 in the country by Intermat. I just flat out don't understand this at all. Phil Wellington is a bit more justifiable, but still curious. Wellington did beat Cox head to head and has an impressive 30-2 record on the season. 1 of his 2 losses is to #3 ranked Morgan McIntosh of Penn State whom Cox has beaten. I guess all of this is moot if these two come out and wrestle as well as they are capable of.
On to the rest of the team....I am looking at getting our guys into the NCAA's.
125 Barlow McGhee - Seeded 5th - Barlow has had a very solid freshman campaign. Talk out of the wrestling room have him as the most surprising wrestler of the year. He is 20-8 on the season and appears to be improving each week. Top 4 in this weight class advance to the NCAA's and he has every right to be among those. The #1 & 2 seeded wrestlers are each ranked in the top 20 but 3 & 4 are not. I'd put his odds at advancing at even money or better.
133 Matt Manley - Seeded 5th - Manley has also had a solid RS freshman campaign. He stepped up this year after returning AA Alan Waters sat out the season. Matt has a record of 22-11 of the season. This weight class appears to be one of the more stacked in the MAC. Manley will most likely see the #1 and 11 ranked grapplers in the country at the MAC's. Much like McGhee with his seeding and improvement through out the year I don't see any reason why he shouldn't be able to finish top 5 and advance to the national championships.
141 lavion Mayes - Seeded 4th - Mayes is another RS freshman who has turned heads. He is currently ranked #18 in the country by Intermat. Lavion is also sitting on a 25-11 record at the moment. This is another stacked weight class with 5 auto qualifiers to the NCAA's. Mayes is one of 4 wrestlers ranked in the top 20, the others Mecate #4, Horan #7 & Lazor #20 are all almost locks to move on.
149 Drake Houdashelt - Seeded 2nd - As I discussed up thread I personally think this ranking is pure hog wash. Drake and Co. shouldn't worry though. If anything I'm kind of hoping this will light a bit of a disrespect fire and spur him on to the NCAA's with only a national title on his mind. Drake has certainly put together a season worthy of the #1 ranking and I'm really looking forward to watching him over the next month.
157 Joey Lavallee - Seeded 3rd - Lavallee is yet another freshman wrestler coming into the MAC championships with a top 20 national ranking. Joey is currently ranked #18 by intermat and has a 24-8 record on the season. 157 is another loaded weight class for the MAC with 4 top 20 rankings and 5 automatic qualifiers. Being ranked 3rd in this class should put Lavallee in a good spot for qualification.
165 Zach Toal - Seeded 2nd - The SR Toal has been solid this year. 22-4 and ranked #12 in the country, he has put together what I would say is the teams 3rd best individual season. Toal has faced #1 ranked Moore and dropped a 2-6 decision. This weight class only has 3 qualifications, so Toal needs to be at his best and wrestle well to advance. He has been through this all before, qualifying for the NCAA's the last 3 seasons. I'd love to see him go out with a bang and take this title on his way to an AA season.
174 Mikey England - Seeded 7th - England is a JR that transferred in from Iowa State. He has a 16-12 record on the season and is unranked. The top 5 in this class advance, so being ranked this low doesn't necessarily knock Mikey out of the running but I think its safe to say his campaign has not been as good as he'd have liked.
184 John Eblen - Seeded 2nd - Eblen has slowly worked his way up the rankings in his JR season. He has a 20-7 record which includes a freakish 24 second loss by pin to the #1 seeded Loder. This is yet another 5 qualifier class, man the MAC is VERY solid this year. Eblen should really have no problem making it through to the NCAA's and I'm sure he'd like to rectify his last loss on the way.
197 J'den Cox - Seeded 2nd - I also discussed Cox earlier and the disappointment in his ranking. This is the very definition of a top heavy weight class. Cox and Wellington are ranked #2 & 8 in the country and are most likely the only 2 advancing to the NCAA's. With only 2 qualifying spots you don't want to mess around and drop an early match. J'den has already put together maybe the most impressive true freshman campaign in Mizzou wrestling history and taking the MAC 197lb championship would only further cement that.
HWT Devin Mellon - Seeded 2nd - The JR Mellon has been very solid this season. A 22-9 record with 2 losses to the #1 seeded Johnson. The first match was a 10-2 MD loss while the 2nd was an 11-8 decision. Mellon has appeared to come into his own later in this season. He has wins over the #4, 5 & 6 ranked wrestlers in this weight class. There are only 3 qualifiers in the Heavyweight class, so Mellon will need to come out and wrestle well. He should be an NCAA qualifier before all is said and done.
Well....that was a lot of words about some guys. What did I miss, screw up or think differently than you Beef?
So…let me talk about conference seedings first.
Yes, I understand the consternation about Houdashelt and Cox and where they landed. But there is something to keep in mind. These seedings are based on conference results. I certainly do not want to minimize what Houdashelt has done since losing his only match of the year to Claxton, nor would I want to do the same for Cox, who has only lost to Gadson of ISU, who is #1. But with Cox, or more to the point, with Wellington, he was perfect in the MAC. Cox was not. The rest of the national results matter not in this case. They wrestled, Wellington won and beat everyone else in the MAC, he gets it.
Now, with Houdashelt and Claxton, that is more confusing, and that is because Claxton is not unbeaten in the conference. He lost his last match against Richardson of Old Dominion (#4 seed). As best I can tell, with each having one loss, a tie-breaker (if you will) should have gone to Houdashelt based on body of work. It did not, and that strikes me as odd.
As we get to each weight class, I am not quite as sold on McGhee’s chances this year, and he is a bit of an unknown in his first match, which could be good or bad. That is because he did not wrestle Keener of Central Michigan (4-seed) when the teams met during the year. Zach Synon lost 6-3 to Keener in what would be his final match of the season before McGhee took over the varsity spot at 125 for good. He was not terribly close against Germaine (EMU) and Jeske (ODU), losing to the #2 and #3 seeds by the same 7-1 score. He was closer against Peters of NIU (1-seed), losing 7-4. He is going to need to beat at least one of them to get to 4th.
I think Manley actually has a better shot at making the NCAA’s, simply because he would need to hold seeding. Mayes is the same at 141, especially because his losses to some people above him have been very close or it OT. I believe Houdashelt will win at 149. Lavallee at 157 is very interesting to me just because he was thrust into the starter spot after Bradley’s departure and has done very well, even in defeat to Ian Miller (1-seed) at only 3-2. With five going from this weight, I like Lavallee to be one of them.
That brings us to 165 and Zach Toal. At this point, I feel like I am able to overrate and underrate Toal at the exact same time. I was quite surprised to see he was the #2 seed in this tourney. I was surprised to see his only losses this year (four of them) came to the current #1, #2, #5 and #11 wrestlers in the country. He has only one win over a ranked opponent, and this is not a strong class for the MAC. His loss to Cooper Moore of UNI was 6-2, and he is the #1 seed. The top 3 make it, so he has SOME wiggle room, but not much.
Mikey England at 174 has come to struggle since being 12-4 overall mid-way through the 2nd day of the Southern Scuffle, where he ultimately placed 8th. He is only 4-8 since beating Joe Latham of Oregon State that morning, and was not great at all in the MAC. He did take his first match opponent (2-seed) Mike Ottinger of CMU to double OT, so maybe he can break through here. At 184, Eblen seems pretty likely to make it as the 2-seed with five spots open. At 197, I think Cox is going to be our other champion, but he needs to be careful because there are only two spots going from this weight. However, I would think he would be a very safe candidate to receive a wild card berth if something bad should happen. Finally, Devon Mellon has flown under the radar and had a solid season (though he is out of the national rankings right now) and I think will move on.
So…by my count, I think I have eight out of ten going. I think McGhee COULD maybe see a wild card berth (depending on how many other upsets happen around the nation). I don’t feel nearly as confident for England.
I did not realize that the seeding was all about the in conference matches. I guess that does make a bit more sense but (old man voice) I still don't like it. I have to agree with most of everything else you wrote except for McGhee. Maybe I'm being too bullish or reading too much into what I've heard out of the coaches and other guys in the wrestling room.
I do agree that we should plan on 8 qualifiers with 9 being a very solid weekend. 2 champs sounds right and there could always be an upset somewhere like HWT that nets a 3rd title. I'm so happy that the snow is finally melting on my back deck, we've got big time wrestling and some bouncy squeek ball action.
Oh I think the future is bright with McGhee going forward if 125 is where we plan to keep him (at least for a little while). I just don’t think he is top 4 this year based on results. But come in 5th at the weight class and I think he can take his chances on a wild card and have a decent shot.
Will be interesting to see what happens with Manley next season with Waters coming back at 133 (as is the assumption). As a RS frosh, he may just have to take a step back for the season and be ready to go if Waters is hurt. But we will save the “next year” talk for…well…at least the NCAA wrap-up.
I very much agree on Manley and Waters. I'm interested to see where he comes back at. I really do want to see a good result this year but looking forward to next year we may have the bottom to top strongest Tiger team ever.
Could be some holes at 165, 174 and maybe 197/HWY (depending on where Cox wrestles)
Why are you always looking at the negatives? You're really just an old man trapped in a somewhat younger mans body aren't you?
Someone has to balance you out…especially considering your issues with balance.
Bill egged me on and then tripped me just for his own amusement. He is a crafty and angry little man.
You misheard him and thought he said there were eggs over by the car. The gravy falling is totally on you (and the grass around Lot P)