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Mizzou Wrestling: MAC Preview {Updated Wednesday with MAC Pre-Seeds}

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With the MAC's coming up this weekend in Columbia, we take a look at how we expect the Tigers will fair. And when I say "we", I mean more than BST and myself.

Yeah...Dom Bradley doesn't wrestle here anymore but we dont have many pics to use right now
Yeah...Dom Bradley doesn't wrestle here anymore but we dont have many pics to use right now
Bill C

The Beef:

Before we start, I would like to welcome shaffe to our conversation.  He’s become a big part of the information we’ve been able to provide in the past couple of weeks, so we thought it would be nice to give him a shot at the big time.  And by big time, I mean a chance to immediately sound smarter than BST.

So gents, the MAC’s are coming up this weekend in Como (Hearnes Center, Sat-Sun). In our brief history within the MAC (when it comes to the regular season), we’ve lost only two dual meets.  However, each of those cost a chance to call ourselves a regular season champ in those first two years.  We combated that this year by running the table.  On the tournament side, we came in very strong (coming off a surprise Big XII Tournament championship on the way out) the first year, and then SQUEAKED one out last year thanks to some big bonus points in wrestle-back matches.

For this year, I cant imagine there is anyone out there who is picking against us as a team, and we already know how we can otherwise judge success (qualifying all ten guys for the NCAA’s without having to hold our breath on a wildcard slot), but put yourself in Coach Smith’s shoes for a moment.  How do each of you go about pumping the team up for this event?

BST:

That hurts Beef. I do have feelings!

Shaffe:

Thanks for the warmest of welcomes The Beef. I relish at the chance to immediately sound smarter than BST in a much more public forum than I already hold.

For the Big Three of Waters, Houdashelt, and Cox I would think they need very little motivation as they all have a #1 seed at stake on the weekend. Waters probably has his sewn up even if he falters to Peters or Jeske in the final, but hopefully he comes out motivated enough to shut that door. Ditto for Cox. Houdashelt faces the best motivator of all as he is still in the conversation for the #1 seed at 149 but absolutely cannot afford to drop a match if he hopes to earn it.

For Mayes, LaVallee, Eblen, Miklus, and Mellon, they are all pretty much assured of an at-large selection to the field barring injury so motivation COULD be an issue for any one of them individually. However LaVallee, Miklus, and Mellon are within range of earning a seed in the bracket (top 12 get seeded) which is massive for obvious reasons in avoiding early losses due to randomization. Mayes and Eblen could face some motivation issues I suppose since they are both solidly in and pretty solid in their positioning within their weight class, so not a ton is really on the line - especially a guy like Eblen, who missed the NCAA tournament last year due to injury.

For Synon and England, they will be wrestling for a spot in the field and if you can't get motivated for that, well then I'm not sure there's anything Smith could do to push them. The common theme here I suppose that Coach Smith should hammer on is that while the team goal is important, the team's ultimate goal can't happen without strong individual performances this weekend. Everybody knows Missouri is going to run away with this thing, so the mindset can really be for each guy to go out there just for himself. Wrestle smart, wrestle hard, and don't do anything stupid like slam your opponent to the mat while you're in the air on his back.

BST:

Ok, I just have to disagree with everything Shaffe has said. Its obvious he has no clue about wrestling or really sports in general. He was born in the state of kansas and prays at the alter of phog allen. There. I said it.

/not really

I unfortunately do have to agree. Motivation should really only be a factor for those mid guys like Mayes, Lavalle, Miklus and Mellon. The rest are fighting for top end seeding or to get into the NCAAs. Smith has done an amazing job with this team all year and I just can't see them laying an egg or having a big let down. The only thing I could think of is maybe hes still beating the underdog drum as we are listed anywhere between 3rd and 6th in tournament rankings still.

The Beef:

For me, I think Mayes has been wrestling so well of late that I would be disappointed if he was not able to keep that motivation going.  Also, the potential to take on (and defeat) his nemesis in Horan from CMU should also help on the motivational scale.

Who has the tougher job to make the NCAA’s at this point?  England or Synon?  This is taking into account all factors (rankings, MAC seeding and allocations, results, etc…)


Shaffe:

I think Synon has the tougher job, only because he absolutely has to win two matches to even have a shot at an at-large bid. If you'll note the spreadsheet from last week his likely opponent in that 1-4 semifinal is Mac McGuire who has the best pedigree of the conference but apparently did not perform well during the season this year. I would feel much better about his chances if McGuire gets seeded 2nd or 3rd along with the only other guy to appear in the top 33 of the RPI or Coaches poll (Kesselrig). Fun fact: Synon has not wrestled either of those other two this year.

That being said, I do think Synon gets an at-large bid if he makes the final. There were 25 allocations at 133 and only 3 Big 12 guys are obviously ahead of Zach (the fourth is 33rd in RPI and unranked in Coaches). That leaves 5 open spots of which he will be bumped ahead of one guy in front of him in both rankings already (McGuire).

BST:

Why do you have to ask such tough questions? Lets break it down by weight class:

133: Auto bids from the MAC - 1: Synon's RPI - 26

Synon is one of 3 MAC wrestlers ranked in the top 33 by the RPI, the other two being: #23 McGuire of Kent State & #28 Keselring of CMU. Synon owns a 3-2 decision over Keselring but has not faced McGuire.

165: Auto bids from the MAC - 4: England's RPI - 28

England is lowest RPI ranked of the 5 MAC wrestlers shown on the latest NCAA release. His MAC competition is: #8 Warner of ODU, #9 Moore of UNI, #23 Hightower of Ohio, and #27 Wohlfert of CMU.  Mikey has only faced Moore (lost 4-3 ) and Wohlfert (lost 4-2 OT). England is also 8-4 over his last 12 matches since getting handled by #1 Dierenger of Ok State, each loss coming by just 1 point or being an OT loss.

So, with all this I think that England has the better chance. He as been wrestling as hard as anyone on the team over the last 6 weeks and has really shown some improvement at 165. I think that he is hungry (being a Sr.) and will do anything and everything to get to the NCAAs this year.


The Beef:

So then let’s predict it out then…and do so before the full official MAC brackets get released (even tougher for pool ol’ BST)…go weight to weight and tell me how you see it finishing.

Shaffe:

Y'know, it would help if I looked at the right weight class when going back through the dual results. Scratch that bit about Synon not facing either wrestler.

Since it's not really that much of a question that Mizzou will win the team title, how many finalists do you see the Tigers having for Sunday afternoon Champions?

BST:

Whose question do I answer? I don't want to anger The Beef!

Shaffe:

Waters, Synon, Mayes, Houdashelt, Eblen, and Cox all win titles. LaVallee, Miklus, and Mellon all make the finals. England beats Wohlfert to qualify but falls in his semifinal.

10 to St. Louis, step 1 to that podium finish.

The Beef:

You answer mine dammit.  Shaffe better quickly know his place on these.

Shaffe:

So now would be a bad time to ask if I get to be masthead for this?

BST:

Waters, Mayes, Houdashelt, Eblen, Cox & Mellon win titles. Lavalle, Synon & Miklus (has beaten Dachow once this year, hes just crazy enough to do it again) are in the finals. England makes it to the semis and Synon is left to hope for the at-large. (I'm assuming he gets it since the Big10 has the other 30 at large bids for 133).

We get all 10 to the NCAAs. We win the MACs by 50+ points. Please, no one get hurt. 

The Beef:

Almost…now for THE most important question for the weekend.

How many Booches Cheeseburgers does BST consume on Saturday? I set the over/under at 5.

BST:

Ooohh, whats the RMN record? Whatever it is, thats my goal. I'll fast all day friday and saturday morning to make sure I'm in top shape for this challenge.

The Beef:

I don’t know that RMN has a goal, but we can kick it out to the thread for a number.  My best is 6 (and a Stag).

BST:

I'm going to go ahead and say right now I'll put down 7 and a stag, minimum. I'll push for double digits tho if Bill C. makes an appearance. 

The Beef:

A couple of things to keep in mind about that:

#1 – We might be somewhat limited in time

#2 – The bathrooms at Hearnes are probably somewhat antiquated

BST:

Understood. I'll be at Booches by 11:30 to maximize my consumption efforts.

I hope they are antiquated, what I unleash on them will be the final push towards a new olympic sports venue.

The Beef:

Pretty sure that’s a wrap.  Anything else to add shaffe?  Or are you now rethinking the fact your name will be attached to BST’s Hearnes demolition plan?

Shaffe:

If there's one thing I've learned about BST over the years, always bet the Over when it comes to food. That and a Baylor football game are the safest Over bets there are.

Confession: I've never been to Booche's. Ban me now, I'll be going out on top.

The Beef:

Heck of a way to go out…congrats on the great run you had.

Seriously though, thanks to Shaffe for jumping in, and we hope to have him back in a couple of weeks for the NCAA previews!

Wednesday Update:

The MAC has released their pre-seeding (1-8) and Mizzou now knows their relative path(s) for the weekend (though since there are only 9 spots, seems like a jerk move to leave off the last guy, but what do I know?) {Turns out shaffe knew and it was because Buffalo is not competing this weekend due to APR reasons}.  Wrestlers 8-9 will wrestle-off to start Saturday and give each top-half of the bracket 8 competitors.  It is double-elimination (though with 5th place at stake, you can actually lose twice and keep wrestling depending on when you lose).  Here are the seeds for the Mizzou wrestlers:

  • 125 - Waters: 1st
  • 133 - Synon: 1st (only 1 allocated spot here)
  • 141 - Mayes: 2nd (since he lost to Horan of Central Michigan)
  • 149 - Houdashelt: 1st
  • 157 - LaVallee: 2nd
  • 165 - England: 5th (top 4 get NCAA spots)
  • 174 - Eblen: 1st
  • 184 - Miklus: 1st (because he beat the higher ranked Dechow of ODU earlier in the season)
  • 197 - Cox: 1st
  • HWY - Mellon: 2nd
So for England, this is a little strange in that he wrestled at 165 against Central Michigan in the dual season, but did not face the wrestler who ended up making the tournament (at that point).  In the dual, he majored Atienza 14-3.  However, for the MAC's, he will face Jordan Wohlfert, who he actually faced in that Edinboro Open late in the season and lost 4-2 (in OT) in the finals.  If Mikey can knock him off, he'll likely have a match against #1 seed Tristan Warner of ODU.  Warner majored Cody Johnston back in November when England was still at 174.  England's path to the allocation is either:
  • Beat Wohlfert and (likely) Warner and he is guaranteed no worse than 2nd
  • Beat Wohlfert and lose to (likely) Warner and then he will need to win one more match to guarantee a spot in the 3rd/4th place match. That would come against the winner from a bout of the losers of the 3/6 bout and the winner of a wrestleback between probably #7 and the loser of 8/9 and 2/7 bouts.  If we assume chalk, the #6 wrestler is Buckwalter from Kent State.  England did not wrestle Buckwalter, who beat Johnston 9-7 earlier in the year.
  • Lose to Wohlfert and that would put him into wrestlebacks.  He'd have a match against the (likely) 8/9 (who would have lost to Warner).  Win that and he'd then have the loser of what would probably be 2/3, which is Moore of UNI and Hightower of Ohio.  England lost to Moore 4-3 and did not wrestle Hightower (who beat Johnston 11-4 in that early-season dual).