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Pretty Significant Changes to Selection Criteria for 2009 NCAA Wrestling Championships know how I said all year that the top three from each of the ten weight classes in the Big XII automatically qualify for the NCAA Tournament?  Um....yeah....I was wrong.

The NCAA instituted some pretty serious changes in the selection criteria, and released those recently.  Turns out, three Mizzou wrestlers have ALREADY MADE the NCAA tournament, regardless of how they place at the Big XII Championships (which will be next Saturday).

Let's review the changes and how they will affect the Big XII Championships

Last Year:

37 total wrestlers (of 50) were given spots in the tournament.  30 of them were "automatic", as the top three from each class were taken.  Additionally, seven "wild card" spots were agreed upon by the Big XII coaches following the Big XII Championships.  Pretty cut and dray

This Year:

First, the Big XII will still get AT LEAST 37 wrestlers into the tournament as they were accustomed to.  However, all 37 spots are now automatic, instead of the 30 automatic + 7 wild cards.  But how are those spots determined?  From the release:

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; rating percentage index (RPI); and coaches ranking. A threshold of a 0.725 winning percentage, top 28 in the RPI and top 28 in the coaches ranking was established to allocate 278 of the 330 championships field positions. 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.

But that only accounts for 278 of the 330 total (33 per class) wrestlers who will be selected to go.  What about the other 52?

After all of the qualifying events have concluded, the NCAA Division I Wrestling Committee will meet in-person to select the remaining 52 at-large qualifiers, which will be announced on March 11.

So what does this mean?  It means that "automatic" Big XII allocations are no longer even across all weight classes.  It also means the allocations by weight class will change every season.  But, it is very likely the Big XII sends more wrestlers to the NCAA Championships than in previous years.  Let's take a look at the number of wrestlers the Big XII will send from each class (at least).  The first set of numbers are the allotted spots per class, with the second set of numbers being the amount of wrestlers nationally ranked in the top 20 by Intermat's latest rankings

Conference:125  133  141  149  157  165  174  184  197  285  Total

Big 12            3      3       3      2      4      5      3      4      5      5      37

ranked            3     2       3      2      5      4      4      4      5      5      37

(Interesting side note: The Big XII currently owns 5 of the top 11 spots at 197 and all 3 at the top of the HWY division)

So, while the numbers are pretty even across the board, you do hate to see a class like 174 where only 3 wrestlers can automatically go, but 4 are currently holding down a national ranking. (not entirely sure how that it is possible without getting into actual records and such). 

At home, we can see how our output at the lower classes (125, 133 and 149) presumably cost the Big XII potential spots.  Will the Big XII receive 37 spots each year automatically like they always have?  The release does not seem to speak to that, so I am of the assumption the number can and will fluctuate, and its landing on 37 may be coincidence.  But on the bright side, with 5's on the board at 165, 197 and HWY, congratulations to Nick Marable, Max Askren and Mark Ellis (still a damn shame we wont get to see what Dom Bradley can do there this season) for making the NCAA's.  I believe Mizzou will see 7 make it total, as I expect Hoehn, Chandler, Jordan and Henderson to all earn a spot next weekend (and MAYBE Schavrien will get a wild card, but I am not holding my breath)

Much more to come here on Rock M Nation about the Big XII Championships and NCAA Championships (3 weeks from now here in St. Louis)