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  1. 2009 Mar 17

    NCAAs are this week!


    By jweir48

    First off, kudos to the Huskers for a great performance at the Big 12s. Overall, I think that was the best tourney performance I’ve seen from NU wrestling. Championship teams score late in periods and score on the edge of the mat. NU did both repeatedly. I can think of only one Husker who wrestled below his seed, and many wrestled above it (how about Pokorny @ 125 getting a pin in the pigtail match and then placing 4th). There were some semifinal matches that didn’t get much press but were, if not epic, at least really big. Dwyer (165) got a blood N guts OT win over Reader of ISU and the crowd was fantastic, both during the match and afterwards as Dwyer saluted the folks in the stands. Later, I was shocked by how easily Brester (197) beat Askren of Mizzou (ranked 4th at the time, seeded 6th in the NCAAs). The takedowns were almost ridiculously easy and he followed those up with repeated tilts. Just a dominating performance. Askren likes to do “funk” (similar to his brother Ben Askren) but Brester has it figured out now. Finally, Lane (285) and Zabriskie of ISU (#1 seed at the NCAAs) are pretty much a coin toss as to who will win. Lane had a deep shot in OT that I thought was going to score, but to his credit Zabriskie countered and ended up winning on a nice shot of his own in the second OT. They could hook up again the quarterfinals, but Lane has a tough draw in round 1 (#8 seed Massey of Wisconsin) and if he wins that would likely have to meet the #9 seed in round 2, so a lot of work to do before that happens.

    I’d like to think that NU could be in the running for an NCAA team title, but it would be a small miracle for that to happen. Iowa has 9 qualifiers and has been dominant all year. WIN Magazine's points projection has Iowa running away with it and a close battle for second. It is hard to argue with that assessment:


    That said, while NU only has 7 qualifiers, it would be disappointing if there were not at least 5 All-Americans by Saturday, and I think 6 is realistic. Plus there are two #1 seeds. NU ought to score a lot of team points. The WIN analysis has them finishing second. I suspect the difference between good and great is going to be: 1) Burroughs and Brester not getting upset early (please Mr. Burroughs, attack from the opening whistle – you can only be beaten if the pace is slow), and 2) Jones (# 12 seed @ 184) and Lane (unseeded @ 285) wrestling above their seeds. Jones can beat anybody. Odds are he will have to beat the #5 and then #4 seeds to make the semis. If he gets hot, this is realistic. And if you get to the semis, anything is possible. Similarly, Lane is unranked because of some silly losses, but anyone who has watched him wrestle (and beat) Zabriskie and Rosholt (#4 seed for Okie State) has got to know that he is capable of winning it all – really.

    Of course the problem with all this is that bracket analysis goes to crap quickly. High seeds lose early (just ask Max Askren), and a lot of these guys are emotionally brittle. Once they lose and an NCAA title shot is gone, they often cave in and don’t come back strong in the consolations. Hopefully it will be the other guys who do this.

    PS - It’s water under the bridge, but I can’t help but think NU would be the favorite if Donahoe (#1 seed at 125) hadn’t been dismissed from the team.
  2. 2009 Mar 11

    NCAA At Large Selections


    By jweir48

    Link from Intermat:


    The only Husker to get an at-large bid was Robert Sanders, who finished third at the Big 12 tourney @ 149 lbs.

    The Big 12 picked up 5 more spots in total. That gives the Huskers 7 wrestlers going to St. Louis, and 42 wrestlers from the Big 12.

    Go here for a discussion of the qualifying slots for the Big 12 prior to last weeks tourney:


    Assuming my recollection is correct, and please correct me if I am wrong, last year the Big 12 took the top 3 in each weight class plus eight wild cards, for a total of 38. This year the Big 12 gets 4 more than they would have under the old system. Unfortunately, the old system would have sent the same guys for NU.
  3. 2009 Mar 05

    Big 12 wrestling preview


    By jweir48

    The Big 12 championships are Saturday March 7 in the NU Coliseum. (As an aside, during my first couple of years of grad school, our offices and labs were in the basement of the Coliseum. That was before the renovations to the old girl in the late 80s. Man, when the power went out it was completely dark down there. Not a photon to be found.) I posted last week on the new system for determining qualifiers for the NCAA tournament (http://www.huskerlocker.com/blogs/view/bid/904/i/big_12_ncaa_berths). I’m guessing NU will get 7 qualifiers.

    The latest Intermat/NWCA (http://www.intermatwrestle.com/college/rankings/d1ranksmar309.aspx) team rankings for the Big 12 are:

    #3 ISU
    #5 Mizzou
    #12 OSU
    #13 OU

    These are dual rankings, and of course good dual teams are not necessarily good tournament teams and vice versa. Nonetheless, I suspect the team points will shake out along those lines, with ISU having to crater pretty bad not to win the team title again. All ten of ISUs starters are ranked in the Intermat/NWCA poll (Big 12 rankings are below; actual seeding won’t take place until Friday night in the coaches meeting). The race for second will be tight. With a couple of upsets both OU and OSU could be in the mix for second.

    The most interesting weight classes are going to be 197 and 285 since both are loaded with top ranked guys. At 197, assuming seeds follow current rankings (I guess they might not since head-to-head in Big 12 duals will be considered), NUs Craig Brester (#2) should meet #4 Max Asken in the semis, then the winner would very likely meet #1 Varner in the finals. Brester beat Askren in the dual, and has lost to Varner twice, although the last match was close. On his feet, Varner’s game is to tie up and control the head/neck to create offense. He will reef on the neck whenever he can, so if you can hold your own in a tie up, or avoid it altogether, you have a shot. On top, Varner does the same thing – forearm in the back of the head, forced half, etc. At 285, expect NUs Lane to meet ISUs #1 ranked Zabriskie in the semis. Lane would have to win the pigtail match between the #4 and #5 seeds, then wrestle in the semis an hour later. Tough gig for a heavyweight. That said, Lane beat Zabriskie at the National Duals and lost by 1 a couple of weeks ago. Lane has a legitimate chance to pull off the upset here, but I think he must stay patient and avoid bad shots. Look for safe single leg attacks where yoy can keep your knees off the mat. One takedown will likely determine the winner. On the other side of the bracket, the #2 Ellis (Mizzou) and #3 Rosholt (OSU) will meet in the semis. Should be fun.

    At 157, undefeated Jordan Burroughs should have little trouble winning another Big 12 title.

    Dwyer at 165 lost to Marable (Mizzou) by 1 and split this season with Reader of ISU. Anything from 4th to first is possible here.

    At 174, Browne may be the #2 seed, even though he is ranked higher than Mizzou’s Jordan since Jordan beat Browne in Columbia. Should not matter though as both should win their semis and hook up in the finals. That could be big for team placing.

    Expect Vince Jones to be the #1 seed at 184. Jones is interesting to watch. He can pin anybody, but is susceptible to getting in a cradle. Last time out, Jones ends up in bad position on a single leg, gets splayed out (Jones seems like the most flexible 184 pounder ever, but I’m not sure that is a good thing) and ISUs Ward locks up a cradle. I’m thinking “oh crap”, then Ward goes to turn him, but Jones slips out and wham, Ward is on his back and gets pinned – again. This weight class is not that strong, so Jones ought to win, but that stuff will get you pinned at the NCAAs.

    As for the four lightest weight classes, I’ll take a couple of 3rd places if we can get them.


    #7 Joey Fio OU
    #8 Tyler Clark ISU
    #15 Obe Blanc OSU
    (former Husker Paul Donahoe is currently ranked #1 for Edinboro)


    #7 Nick Fanthorpe ISU
    #13 Chris Notte OSU
    (Vacanti NU beat Crain MU 20-7; Shelton OU beat Vacanti NU 8-1)


    #5 Nick Gallick ISU
    #9 Marcus Hoehn Mizzou
    #15 Jamal Parks OSU
    (Salazar or Aleksanyan for NU?; Vernon OU beat Aleksanyan NU 6-3)


    #6 Kyle Terry OU
    #19 Mitch Meuller ISU
    (Sanders NU over Sherry MU 7-4; Sanders over Ashmore OSU 6-3)


    #3 Jordan Burroughs NEBRASKA
    #6 Michael Chandler Mizzou
    #8 Cyler Sanderson ISU
    #10 Neil Erisman OSU
    #15 Chad Terry OU


    #6 Nick Marable Mizzou
    #7 Jon Reader ISU
    # 8 Stephen Dwyer NEBRASKA
    #9 Brandon Mason OSU


    #3 Bandon Browne NEBRASKA
    #5 Raymond Jordan Mizzou
    #10 Jeff James OU
    #13 Newly McSpadden OSU
    #17 Duke Burk ISU


    #11 Vince Jones NEBRASKA
    #18 Jerome Ward ISU
    #19 Pat Flynn OU
    #20 Dorian Henderson Mizzou


    #1 Jake Varner ISU
    #2 Craig Brester NEBRASKA
    #4 Max Askren Mizzou
    #8 Clayton Foster OSU
    #11 Eric Lapotsky OU
    (Foster beat Brester 5-2 in the dual)


    #1 David Zabriskie ISU
    #2 Mark Ellis Mizzou
    #3 Jared Rosholt OSU
    #15 Tucker Lane NEBRASKA
    #16 Nathan Fernandez OU
  4. 2009 Feb 27

    Big 12 NCAA berths


    By jweir48

    The Lincoln Journal Star recently described the changes in how slots will be awarded for the 2009 NCAA tourney:


    In short, the number of NCAA qualifiers in each weight class from each conference (or regional tourney) who go the NCAAs is now determined by an RPI formula based upon performance during the season. In years past, the total number of qualifiers from a conference was set and spread evenly across weight classes with the exception that “wild cards” for a conference were decided at a coaches meeting following the conference tourney. My recollection is that for the Big 12, in recent years the top 3 automatically qualified plus there were 8 wild cards.

    The 2009 “qualifier allocations” have now been released by the NCAA (go to page 2 for weight class allocations by conference):


    The Big 12 gets 37 automatic total qualifiers broken down as follows:
    125 – 3
    133 – 3
    141 – 3
    149 – 2
    157 – 4
    165 – 5
    174 – 3
    184 – 4
    197 – 5
    285 – 5

    In addition, following the conference/regional tourneys the NCAA will give out another 52 “at-large berths”:


    It would be a shock if any Huskers from 157 through 285 did not make it; indeed only an injury would keep Dwyer, Brester, and Lane from going. So what sort of shot do we have at the lower weight classes? The final RPI rankings prior to the conference tourney are here:


    Based on these rankings, it looks like Robert Sanders (RPI = #21 @ 149 lbs) has a decent shot at an at-large berth. The Huskers at 125, 133, and 141 are not in the top 33 RPI rankings for their respective weight classes, so it seems an upset or two would be needed to qualify. The Big 12 tourney is in Lincoln, and maybe a home mat advantage will help. However, I think we are looking at seven Huskers going to St. Louis.
  5. 2009 Feb 20

    Huskers vs. Cyclones Preview


    By jweir48

    Nebraska hosts the last home dual of the season Sunday Feb. 22 against Iowa State (2PM Central at the Coliseum - wear black). The Huskers.com preview is here:


    In the most recent Intermat rankings, NU moved up to #3 from #4, while ISU dropped from #2 to #4 following an 18-15 loss to Mizzou last Sunday (NU beat Mizzou 16-15 on Jan.31). The Huskers would move to 4-0 in Big 12 duals with a win, which I guess would be a regular season championship of sorts. NU and ISU last met at the National Duals in January, and the Clones beat the Huskers 20-19. Here are the match results from then:

    125 - Tyler Clark (ISU) pinned Andrew Pokorny (NU), 3:58
    133 - Nick Fanthorpe (ISU) major dec. Matt Vacanti (NU), 12-4
    141 - Nick Gallick (ISU) major dec. Curtis Salazar (NU), 11-2
    149 - Mitch Mueller (ISU) dec. Robert Sanders (NU), 7-5
    157- Jordan Burroughs (NU) major dec. Cyler Sanderson (ISU), 12-4
    165 - Stephen Dwyer (NU) dec. Jon Reader (ISU), 4-0
    174 - Brandon Browne (NU) dec. Andrew Sorenson (ISU), 7-4
    184 - Vince Jones (NU) pinned Jerome Ward (ISU), 5:50
    197 - Jake Varner (ISU) dec. Craig Brester (NU), 10-3
    HWT – Tucker Lane (NU) dec. David Zabriskie (ISU), 7-6

    What must NU do to beat ISU this time? First, avoiding the pin at 125 would help. Even a tech fall here would be an extra point for NU. At 149, Sanders lost by two to Mueller. A win by Sanders here would be a six point swing from January. The match of the day will be at 197, where #1 Varner and #2 Brester meet. Varner beat Brester by seven last time, so that is not an easy task. On the ISU ledger, NU made it close on the strength of a pin by Jones at 184 and an upset by Tucker Lane at HWT over current #1 Zabriskie. The Jones match was actually pretty close until Jones caught Ward on his back. Don’t expect another six points here. Zabriskie has been on fire since losing to Lane, and Lane has been up and down. Expect Zabriskie to beat Lane. At the end of the day, I’m afraid the matchups favor ISU in this dual.
  6. 2009 Jan 12

    Pictures from National Duals


    By jweir48

    Related photos

    I posted some pics from the Sunday session at the National Duals - see link to photo album.
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