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Ohio State wrestling: Big Ten Tournament preview

The nation's best conference wrestling tournament is being held this Saturday and Sunday in Madison, Wisconsin. See how the Buckeyes stack up.

Ohio State athletics

Outside of the NCAA championships, you won't find more talent in one building anywhere in the country than at the Kohl's Center this Saturday and Sunday for the Big Ten wrestling tournament. Penn State, Iowa, and Minnesota are probably the only schools with a legitimate shot at the team title, but there are plenty of intriguing matchups on the individual level. Let's take a closer look.


Projected Finish (original seeds in parenthesis)

1. Nico Megaludis (PSU) (1)

2. Cory Clark (IA) (4)

3. Jesse Delgado (ILL) (2)

4. Ryan Taylor (WIS) (3)

What to watch for

The top four seeds in this weight all have a chance at taking the crown, with Nico, Clark, and Delgado being a little bit ahead of Taylor. Clark is the wildcard. He has a win over Delgado in 2013 and he pinned Taylor this season, but he's only wrestled 16 matches all year long. I have him squeaking by Delgado in the semifinals before falling to Nico in the final.

The OSU perspective

Nick Roberts is probably not going to contend for the championship. He wrestled Delgado tough earlier in the season, but was soundly beaten by Nico and Taylor. In my projections, I have him penciled in at 6th, which would be enough for a NCAA tournament bid.


Projected Finish

1. Tony Ramos (IA) (1)

2. Tyler Graff (WIS) (2)

3. David Thorn (MIN)(3)

4. Johnni DiJulius (OSU)(6)

What to watch for

With Logan Stieber gone to 141, two-time runner-up Tony Ramos is the clear favorite at 133, but he has been upset twice this year, so nothing is definite. Graff is coming off of an extended hiatus and his potential early round matchup against Guilibon of PSU is dangerous, but I expect him to make it through.

The OSU perspective

Johnni DiJulius can beat anyone in the field if he is able to work his offense. Just ask #1-ranked Joe Colon (who pinned 1-seed Ramos but lost soundly to DiJulius in Las Vegas). However with all of the familiarity that Big Ten wrestlers have with each other, there's a good chance that someone will be able to slow it down. I have him losing to Thorn of Minnesota twice and finishing fourth. It's a very respectable finish and good enough to qualify him for the NCAA Tournament.


Projected Finish

1. Logan Stieber (OSU)(2)

2. Zain Retherford (PSU)(1)

3. Chris Dardanes (MIN)(3)

4. Steven Dutton (UM)(4)

What to watch for

One match, really: The projected Retherford/Stieber final.

The OSU perspective

Logan Stieber has lost exactly once in the last two seasons. That loss was an overtime decision against Zain Retherford. This weekend he gets his chance for revenge. This matchup could hinge on who scores the first takedown. If Stieber does, I wouldn't be surprised to see him build a 4-0 or 5-0 lead in the first period and win something like 7-2. If Zain scores first, he's probably going to ride out the period which means that Stieber would need to climb out of a significant hole against a guy who has been taken down twice all year.  I'm going with my gutand picking Stieber to win his 3rd consecutive B1G championship.


Projected Finish

1. Nick Dardanes (MIN)(2)

2. Jake Sueflohn (NEB)(1)

3. Eric Grajales (UM)(5)

4. Jason Tsirtsis (NW) (3)

What to watch for

This is one of several extremely competitive weight classes. The margin between one and four is razor thin and I wouldn't be surprised to see someone like Tsirtsis pull off an upset.

The OSU perspective

My projections have Ian Paddock finishing seventh, though he's probably capable of finishing as high as fifth if he gets hot. Paddock has been inconsistent this season, which is why I hesitate to project him much higher.


Projected Finish

1. James Green (WIS)(2)

2. Derek St. John (IA)(4)

3. Dylan Ness (MIN)(3)

4. Isaac Jordan (NEB)(1)

What to watch for

Along with 285, this is probably the most wide-open weight in the tournament. Derek St. John is a defending national champion (seeded fourth!), but Nebraska's James Green has beaten him. The number 1 seed is a redshirt freshman who has beaten both St. John and Green in the last month. Then, there's Dylan Ness who is capable of throwing anyone to their back at any moment. That being said, I'm going with Green who I feel has been the most consistent wrestler at the weight all season long.

The OSU perspective

Randy Languis is a tough dude, and there's a good chance that you'll end up working for him one day. Still, based on B1G dual performance, It's hard to imagine him placing in the top 8.


Projected Finish

1. David Taylor (PSU)(1)

2. Nick Moore (IA) (2)

3. Pierce Harger  (NW)(3)

4. Jackson Morse (ILL) (5)

What to watch for

David Taylor. He's the best in this weight, and it's not really close. The Penn State senior has never lost a match in the Big Ten tournament, and there's a very good chance that he will earn bonus points in every single match this year. This will be your last chance to see Taylor in B1G competition. Enjoy it, you may not see another like him any time soon.

The OSU perspective

Joe Grandominico is another tough guy who just hasn't shown enough during the Big Ten season to demonstrate that he's a threat to contend.


Projected Finish

1. Logan Storley (MIN) (4)

2. Matt Brown (PSU)(2)

3. Robert Kokesh (NEB)(1)

4. Mike Evans (IA)(3)

What to watch for

While this weight might not have the elite talent that some of the other weight classes, it is very deep. The #3-#6 ranked wrestlers at the weight will all be in Madison this weekend, which should provide for some excellent matches.

The OSU perspective

It would take a significant upset for Mark Martin to crack the top four at this weight, but I think that a fifth place finish and an NCAA berth is very realistic.


Projected Finish

1. Ed Ruth (PSU)(1)

2. Lofthouse (IA)(3)

3. Steinhaus (MN)(2)

4. TJ Dudley (NEB) (4)

What to watch for

Much like David Taylor at 165, Ed Ruth has separated himself from the pack. I don't expect a lot of fireworks in this weight class and I don't expect anybody to stop Ruth from earning his fourth consecutive Big Ten title.

The OSU perspective

Kenny Courts was injured at the National Duals and hasn't competed since, so I'm not sure exactly where to project him. That's why I have him slotted at fifth place, but he's certainly capable of moving up to third or fourth.


Projected Finish

1. Morgan McIntosh (PSU)(1)

2. Scott Schiller (MIN)(3)

3. Nick Heflin (OSU) (2)

4. Braden Atwood (PUR) (4)

What to watch for

The top three wrestlers at 197 are all legitimate national title contenders, and each is capable of beating the other two on any given day. McIntosh is probably the favorite, but Nick Heflin has quite a case himself.

The OSU perspective

Aside from Logan Stieber, Nick Heflin is the only Buckeye expected to contend for a title. I have him losing a semifinal match to Schiller in a rematch of their encounter at the National Duals (which Heflin won). Still, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see Heflin win that match and go on to beat McIntosh in the final. The top three are really that close. Hey, he calls himself the Darkhorse, I can't project him to win or I'd screw that whole nickname up.


Projected Finish

1. Tony Nelson (MIN)(5)

2. Mike McMullen (NW)(3)

3. Adam Coon (UM)(1)

4. Adam Chalfant (IND)(2)

What to watch for

The two-time defending national champion is seeded fifth. Let me repeat myself. The two-time defending national champion is seeded fifth. That should tell you everything that you need to know about the depth at 285. As far as a pick goes, I can't stop myself from taking that two-time champ Tony Nelson to right the ship and make a championship run.

The OSU perspective

Nick Tavanello racked up several big wins for the Buckeyes, and has a legit chance at earning an NCAA tournament bid. That being said, I think the depth at 285 is too much and I have him falling just short.