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Buy or Sell: Early thoughts on the Big Ten wrestling tournament

BY CODY GOODWIN AND DANNY PAYNE | MARCH 05, 2014 5:00 AM

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The pre-seeds for the 2014 Big Ten Wrestling Tournament were announced on Monday. The Daily Iowan’s wrestling reporters answer three key questions regarding the Iowa wrestling team ahead of the conference championships.

Buy or Sell: Bobby Telford will take first place at Heavyweight.

Goodwin: Sell. If the pre-seeds hold, Telford, pre-seeded fourth, will have arguably the toughest road to the finals of any of the Big Ten heavyweights.

So, for now, let’s assume the pre-seeds hold: Telford will have to top Minnesota’s Tony Nelson, Michigan’s Adam Coon, and someone from the other side — which could be Northwestern’s Mike McMullan, Indiana’s Adam Chalfant, or even Wisconsin’s Connor Medbery — in order to claim first.
This is not to say that Telford can’t win it all. He can. But to do so, he’ll have to beat guys who seemingly have his number — i.e. Coon and McMullan. With that in mind, it’s hard to peg him as the guy to beat.

Payne: Buy. I’m putting a disclaimer with this buy, though. Heavyweight in the Big Ten is one of the biggest toss-ups I can remember — in any sport. With the insane parity in this weight class this season, I really can’t persuade myself to pick someone.

But with for the sake of argument, I’m going with Telford. The junior has lost to Coon twice, McMullan, and Medbery. He’s beat Nelson and Chalfant of Indiana, among others.

Just as Cody said, he’ll have a tough road (presumably), but I like his experience as a junior if he gets Coon, a freshman, at some point on the road.

But again, anyone can beat anyone.

Buy or Sell: Iowa will take second place in the team race.

Goodwin: Buy. I’ve written this before. With respect to the Big Ten championships, I like three teams — Iowa, Penn State, and Minnesota — to be far and away ahead of the rest.

It’s here that Iowa has the talent to overtake Minnesota for second but not so much to topple Penn State.

The Nittany Lions boast too much bonus-point potential. Penn State’s David Taylor, Ed Ruth and Morgan McIntosh are a combined 76-3 with 65 bonus-point wins — be it major decisions, technical falls or pins.

And while Minnesota is a good team — the Gophers beat Iowa, after all — the bonus-point potential just isn’t as threatening as Penn State’s. In a tournament setting, with those three teams involved, I like Iowa placing second behind the Nittany Lions.

Payne: Buy. Penn State is a virtual lock to win this tournament. Cody mentioned Taylor, Ruth, and McIntosh’s insane résumés, but throw Matt Brown in there at 174-pounds, and you have a 101-6 record with 83 bonus-point wins.

It’s pretty much a race for second between Minnesota and Iowa. Iowa did lose to Minnesota earlier this season, but that was a dual filled with upsets. Thomas Gilman got pinned by an unranked Sam Brancale. Had he not gotten caught and had he wrestled as he is capable of, that’s a 9-point swing.

Cory Clark, who got the nod from head coach Tom Brands at 125 over Gilman, has scored bonus points in 10 of his 15 bouts this season. Iowa has more explosive guys suh as him than the Gophers do, and that should give be able to give the Hawkeyes the runner-up spot.

Buy or Sell: Derek St. John will avenge one of his losses

Goodwin: Buy. St. John is more than capable of beating any of the three guys who have beaten him this year. He’s defending NCAA champ at 157 pounds, after all.

But when will he get his shot? Let’s assume the pre-seeds hold again: St. John, pre-seeded fourth, will have to reach the tournament’s semifinals in order to get a rematch with Wisconsin’s Isaac Jordan, the top pre-seed at 157.

A win there puts St. John in the finals, where he’d more than likely have to beat Nebraska’s James Green or Minnesota’s Dylan Ness. A loss drops him to the backside, where he’d have to battle back for third.

The way I see it, St. John either gets to the finals — where anything can happen — or he battles back and takes third. No matter where he lands, St. John will manage to topple one of those three guys.

Payne: Buy. This is assuming St. John gets Dylan Ness of Minnesota or Isaac Jordan of Wisconsin at some point in the tournament. I just don’t see St. John beating Nebraska’s James Green. That 9-7 decision in Lincoln, Neb., was too lopsided (although the score doesn’t show it) to make me believe he can beat Green.

With that being said, Ness and Jordan are different animals. St. John all but had Ness beat at Carver-Hawkeye in January, but he used his funk on St. John in the waning seconds of the third period for a takedown and 3 near-fall points, giving him a 7-4 win.

Against Jordan, another weak third period (an escape and takedown) was the downfall for St. John in that fight. This was a few months after St. John beat Jordan, 5-3, in the Midlands Championships semifinals.

St. John has proven he can beat Jordan, and as for Ness, nothing that happened in that match makes me believe an NCAA champion like St. John will get caught in that funky situation again.


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