The college wrestling season has yet to begin, and it’s more than seven months until the 2015 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships… but that hasn’t stopped “WIN” (Wrestling Insider Newsmagazine) from predicting that the University of Minnesota will win the team title in St. Louis next March, based on the Gophers’ No. 1 ranking in the magazine’s 2014-15 Preseason Tournament Power Index (TPI) released Tuesday.
What makes “WIN” pick Minnesota to dethrone defending champs Penn State this season, when the Gophers fell just short of doing that at the 2014 NCAAs? J Robinson’s wrestling squad has all but one of their seven All-Americans from last year’s runner-up team back this season. “WIN” magazine has Minnesota racking up 76 points, which is based on how many All-American points they could score.
The formula may seem like rocket science, but it’s based on point totals which accompany the magazine’s initial rankings for individual wrestlers in each weight class. For example, a wrestler ranked No. 1 in the “WIN” preseason rankings gets 20 points – 16 All-American points, plus 4 advancement points; a second-ranked wrestler gets his team 16 points (12 AA points + 4 advancement points), and so on, down to one point for wrestlers ranked 17th to 20th place. (As the magazine points out, its TPI points will be lower than the final NCAA tournament points because it does not include bonus points.)
Right now, “WIN” has two Minnesota wrestlers ranked at the top of their respective weight classes: 157-pound Dylan Ness, a two-time national runner-up in 2012 and 2014, and 174-pound Logan Storley.
Ranked right behind Minnesota in the “WIN” preseason predictions are University of Iowa, and Cornell University, tied for second place with 72 points. At the 2014 NCAAs, Iowa placed fourth in the team standings, while Cornell came in seventh. As the magazine points out, “The Hawkeyes feature the most predicted All-Americans (7), but none are ranked No. 1 at their weight class, while the Big Red will be led by 184-pound Gabe Dean...”
Where does Penn State, winner of four consecutive NCAA team titles, fall in the “WIN” Preseason TPI? In fifth place with 65.5 points, a half-point behind fourth-ranked Ohio State, which placed sixth last March. Rounding out the top ten rankings: Oklahoma State in sixth, with 57 points; a tie for seventh between Missouri and Northwestern, 50 points; Edinboro in ninth place, with 49 points; and Nebraska, ranked tenth with 42.5 points.
In addition to predictions for team rankings, “WIN” also ranks the top twenty wrestlers in each of the ten weight classes. The No. 1 ranked wrestlers include Illinois’ Jesse Delgado at 125 pounds, and A.J. Schopp of Edinboro at 133. Ohio State’s Logan Stieber, who hopes to make history by becoming only the fourth four-time NCAA Division I champ, is top-ranked at 141, with fellow Big Ten matmen Jason Tsirtsis of Northwestern, and Minnesota’s Dylan Ness at the top of the 149 and 157-pound rankings, respectively. Oklahoma State’s Alex Dieringer is No. 1 at 165, with Minnesota’s Logan Storley on top at 175. Cornell’s Gabe Dean is tops at 184, joined by J’den Cox of Missouri at 197, and North Carolina State’s Nick Gwiazdowski ranked as the best big man in college wrestling. A good number of these top-rated wrestlers -- Delgado, Stieber, Tsirtsis, Dieringer, Cox, and Gwiazdowski -- won titles at the 2014 NCAAs.