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Talkin' Rasslin' - The First NCAA D-1 Coaches Panel Rankings

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Late last week, the NCAA released their version go-round of the Coaches Panel Rankings, which gives us our first glimpse towards potential conference allocation numbers and seedings for the NCAA's. How did it look for Mizzou?

Saturday Night at the NCAA's.  Now...how does Mizzou get there?
Saturday Night at the NCAA's. Now...how does Mizzou get there?
Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

The Beef

Alright BST, we’ve seen a decent amount of talk and reference to the first distribution of the NCAA Division 1 Wrestling Coaches Rankings which has the top 33 wrestlers at each weight class.  Exciting for Mizzou was that this list featured each varsity wrestler on the squad.  Before we start to break down rankings and what the list actually means and how the allocation system works, what were your initial thoughts to seeing all our various wrestlers on this list?

BST

Not surprised really about 8 of the 10 being in there. Synon and England were nice to see though. As we've talked about already this season, getting all 10 guys into the NCAAs is the first step to getting all 10 guys winning matches, getting those extra team points, and getting the team on the podium. Anything that jumped out at you?

The Beef

Pleased to see England on the list for sure, and while this list was done before the Okie State meet (and therefore before Synon’s loss to Harding, who was not ranked), glad to see it as a benchmark for Synon as well.  That said, both those guys may be a little bit on edge, and that is what I wanted to talk about.

So at the NCAA’s, you have 10 weight classes with 33 wrestlers each (why it is not 32, I don’t know).  So each bracket will have one "rat-tail" match and then a normal 32-spot bracket (to start, it gets really nuts after that because of the double-elimination and top-8 placing).  To determine who gets these spots, the NCAA uses a somewhat complex system which is explained here in last season’s release.  As you can see, the Big 10 received just over one quarter of all qualifier allocations (and that is before however many wild cards they also received).

Focused more on us, the MAC does pretty well from an allocation standpoint, receiving 41 last year (third most behind the Big 10 and EIWA).  Every class last year got the top two wrestlers, and most had four or more.  So…let’s start to take a look at where Mizzou may be standing.  We will look at the current starting 10, their NCAA rank, their rank within the MAC (per the NCAA ranking) and how many MAC wrestlers are ranked in the weight class total.  We will also look at how many were allocated last year (just as a comparison, not a guide for how many may get it this year).

NCAA rank MAC Rank Total MAC 2014 MAC allocation
Waters - 125 1 1 4 4
Synon - 133 27 2 3 5
Mayes - 141 5 1 4 5
Houdashelt - 149 5 1 5 4
LaVallee - 157 13 3 5 5
England - 165 25 4 4 3
Eblen - 174 6 1 3 5
Miklus - 184 12 2 3 5
Cox - 197 1 1 7 2
Mellon - HWY 14 2 4 3


Alright, anything jumping off the table at you right away?

BST

First:
We have 3 wrestlers who could be on the edge of not making the NCAAs, and they are: Synon, Lavallee & England. I'd say its England, Synon and then Lavallee in order of who is most likely not to make it past the MACs and really I think we only get 9 at a minimum at this point.

Second: 
The coaches are thinking that not only will we win the MACs but good lord we may set a record at Hearnes during the conference tournament. We could realistically win 6 of 10 weight classes, which while silly should be a goal at this point.

Third: 
I'd say the MAC as a whole isn't as strong this year as in the past few years since we've joined the conference for wrestling. I hope that the conference overall being down doesn't bring down allocations overall or will we get some of the wildcard spots just because our team has been that damn good this year?

The Beef

I think the MAC FEELS down, but probably isnt.  I think it feels like it is down because the gulf between us and everyone else is very pronounced.  Heck, we finished only 2.5 points than UNI at the MAC’s and I believe only one point better at the NCAA’s, with ODU also going top-25 at the NCAA’s last year.  This year, you’ve got 5 teams predicted to be top-25 at the NCAA’s, but it is us at #3 and then Kent State (20), ODU (21), UNI (23) and Ohio (24).  Central Michigan has fallen off a bit, so maybe that is why it also feels down, since they had been strong the last few seasons.

As for me, yes, England and Synon are a little precarious. I am not too concerned about LaVallee.  He has wrestled a VERY tough slate this season, and considering how (decently) strong 157 the MAC is within the NCAA rankings and considering he is 3rd of 5…I think he is sitting pretty.  Now, and true of anyone to some extent, a bad Saturday at the Hearnes in early March could really louse things up, but we will get into the wild cards in a sec

Let’s look at one more level of comparison.  I am going to look at the number of allocated wrestlers from the MAC in 2014 as compared to the number of wrestlers from the MAC who appeared in the last RPI ranking.  As we linked earlier, RPI is not the only metric being used (one of many), but let’s take a look at just how close the two compare

Weight 2014 NCAA Allocation 2014 Final RPI Ranking (MAC) +/-
125 4 5 -1
133 5 5
141 5 6 -1
149 4 5 -1
157 5 6 -1
165 3 3
174 5 5
184 5 4 +1
197 2 4 -2
HWY 3 3
Totals 41 46 -5

So the RPI is a DECENT indicator in most cases, and that as long as you are not too close to the threshold of the allocation, you should be OK.  LaVallee is two spots to the good, Synon is one and England is even.

The question then becomes, "Well, can’t England rely on the wild card in case he comes in 5th?"

BST

I think if England is the highest finisher in the MAC that doesn't get the auto bid then yeah, its a pretty good bet he gets the wildcard. If he somehow finishes 5th and the conference only gets 3 auto bids, things are quite a bit dicier. His weight class is some kind of stupid in the Big 10. They currently have the #'s 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 18 , 26 & 30th ranked wrestlers. Good effing lord.

On a similar point, do England and Synon get knocked for having a smaller body of work for this season than other guys or did they still wrestle enough in Mizzou's extensive schedule to put forth just how good they are (can be)?

The Beef

I think Synon has the highest hill to climb because he was simply out of the picture up until the Scuffle.  For England, I don’t know how the process treats the first part of his season.  I could see where maybe it is (and should) be considered, and I can see where it is not (and should not) be considered.

Wild cards can be tricky because a perfect storm can take multiple cards away at once.  Take 197 from the MAC last year.  Only two spots allocated.  Let’s say #1 seed Phil Wellington trips up against Baxter of Kent State (ranked #29 in 2nd-to-last NCAA ranking) and it turns out the moment was too big for J’Den Cox, and he falls in the semis to #33 Kevin Beasley from ODU.  What then?  You pretty much have to use 2 wild cards right away to get Cox and Wellington into the field.  But now, what happens to Blake Rosholt of Okie State, who had some injuries during the year and while ranked a few times, could not get in via their tournament?  This year, maybe the allocations only call for 7 guys from the Big 10 to make it at 165, but #26 steps up and wins the entire thing, while #8 had some injuries and went two-and-out.  Could see two spots off the board right away.

BST

There certainly are LOTS of scenarios that we can and most likely will see in a few months. So, we've covered a lot but lets bring it back around to what does this all mean for Mizzou? How many guys do you think get into the NCAAs? How many "should" get in (if different than you think get in)? 

The Beef

I think they are sitting REALLY nicely for 8.  I think Synon’s spot within the weight class looks pretty good, and he will have a chance in the coming weeks to hopefully improve his national standing through some wins and some matches in the National Duals.  For England, it could be close.  Obviously, if he gets to the semis of the MAC’s, he looks to be in decent shape, but he really does need to have some strong showings to make sure he as far up the list as possible should WC’s come into play.

You think?

BST

I agree. I think we are all but guaranteed 8, will get 9 and England is about as far on the edge as you can get. IF England can put together a good couple of weeks then he certainly can get a WC.