IA Wrestle has already released our projected Big 12 seeds for the conference tournament, which will be held in Ames this year. With the Cyclones playing host, some are hoping that they will be able to pul lthe upset and knock off defending champion Oklahoma State on the home mat.
As we showed in the points off projected seeds, Oklahoma State opens as a 27 point favorite over the Cyclones. While that seems like a large gap to close, below I will give my scenario in which the Cyclones earn the conference title.
125 – Projected points = 0
One of the bigger holes in the Cyclone’s bid to win a conference title is at this weight, where Kyle Larson who was 0-3 in conference duals will be the last seed. Larson will have a first round match against Oklahoma State’s Eddie Klimara, an opponent he had a 5 point lead on in the third period in their dual meeting, but squandered the opportunity. He can look for some redemption in his first round match as a win would automatically be a 13 point change in the team title race (+6 for Larson making the finals, and -7 for Klimara, who is the projected champion). A win by Larson could almost close the gap single handily. However, if we try and stay a little more conservative, we could just say that Larson needs to win the third place match against Ryan Milhoff. Not only would this be a big win for the conference title, but both wrestlers are fringe NCAA qualifiers.
133 – Projected points = 10
Earl Hall just needs to replicate what he’s been doing all season here for the Cyclones. Although he stuck Brewer in their dual matchup, this title won’t come easy, so Hall needs to take care of both matches. Hall also performed well against Stainbrook in the dual, but last year Stainbrook beat Hall at the Big 12 tournament.
141 – Projected points = 6
This is another key weight in ISU’s bid for the title. Rodriguez is having an excellent season, and could very well win the whole thing which is what I think the Cyclones will need. His first round opponent will be against a top 20 wrestler in Mike Morales of West Virginia. Rodriguez won the regular season meeting, and winning the rematch is a must. In the finals he should face #1 seed Dean Heil, another winnable match. Rodriguez has the potential to win this, and if he does the Cyclones will be one step closer.
149 – Projected points = 6
Another weight where the Cyclones just need to wrestle to seed. Moreno looked good against Shayne Tucker (Oklahoma), so I think he makes the finals.
157 – Projected points = 3
Luke Goettl will be wrestling his last match ever in Hilton, will he go out in style? He will be matches up with Oklahoma’s Justin DeAngelis in the first round. I have this as another swing match I think ISU needs Goettl to win and make the finals to win the Big 12.
165 – Projected points = 6
Mike Moreno is coming off a big performance with his pin over Isaac Jordan in the dual season finale. No one has challenged #1 Alex Dieringer all season long, so Moreno just needs to wrestle to seed, maybe try and keep Dieringer out of the bonus.
174 – Projected points = 3
Of all the weights that need to out-perform their projected points, I am most confident that Weatherman will be able to get the job done. Weatherman comes in (because of his upsets) the #3 seed, but as the nation’s #12 ranked wrestler, he is certainly capable of getting the job done. He was upset by Oklahoma’s Matt Reed, and he sits one spot behind Oklahoma State’s Kyle Cutchmer. The pair have had two close matches on the season, and if Weatherman can get it done at Big 12’s, it will be a big boost for Iowa State.
184 – Projected points = 10
Weatherspoon is having a pretty positive season thus far, and has quietly been a staple in many Iowa State victories. He scored bonus in two of his conference duals, and his biggest task will be to make sure he defeats Nolan Boyd in their second meeting, as his 5-1 dual win is the reason for his #1 seed.
197 – Projected points = 10
Gadson just needs to stay in top form for the Cyclones here. Preferably he can match Oklahoma State’s Alex Dieringer’s bonus points en route to his title to give ISU every chance they can to stay even.
285 – Projected points = 0
Smith has struggled all season, but based on all of the Cyclone improvements I have listed above, they would likely need the sophomore to win just one match – even just the third place match to win the tournament. I have Iowa State and Oklahoma State deadlocked with Smith taking fourth, so this is a must win for the Cyclones to finish off the tournament win.
If all of that can come to fruition, I would have the updated team scores of: