Big Ten Tournament Preview 

State College, PA is the host site for the 2021 Big Ten Wrestling Tournament Saturday, March 6th and Sunday, March 7th. The Big Ten Conference has earned 76 automatic bids to the National tournament March 18th-20th in St. Louis Missouri. The automatic bids are the division 1 level are a lot different than any other level. Each weight class is allocated a certain amount of automatic bids based on certain criteria. The criteria this year however because of the pandemic was a little different. The committee took a 5 year average of the number of automatic bids earned by each weight class in each conference. 


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How To Watch/Schedule of Events 

** note all times listed are Eastern Time Zone 

Teams Competing 

#1 Iowa 

#2 Penn State

#4 Michigan

#8 Nebraska 

#9 Minnesota

#11 Illinois

#12 Ohio State

#18 Purdue

#23 Michigan State 






Team Preview 

The Big Ten Conference is the best conference in the country and it’s not even close. What other conference has 5 teams ranked in the top 10 and 4 more ranked in the top 25. The team race for the top spot probably won’t have much excitement as #1 Iowa is a clear favorite to not only win the Big Ten Title but win the National Title. Iowa is a top 3 pre seed at every weight except for 184 and the top seed at 125, 141, 165 and 174.

The team race excitement from the race for second between the likes of #2 Penn State, #4 Michigan, #8 Nebraska and #9 Minnesota.  #2 Penn State got a huge boost a few weeks ago when Greg Kerkvliet (285) entered their line-up just a week after it was announced they didn’t expect him to compete this season. #4 Michigan has had a solid year on the mat but, it’s been a little bitter sweet for the Wolverines. Michigan could have been even better if Steven Micic, who would have been a title contender at 133 would have chosen to compete. #8 Nebraska has always seemed to peak this time of year the last few years. Nebraska was the runner up in the 2020 Big Ten Tournament and will look to do the same in 2021.

We have seen some roster shake up from the Huskers over the back half of the season when Tucker Sjomeling (133) and Ridge Lovett (149) entered the line-up. Sjomeling took over at 133 for Alex Thomsen. Lovett who was a qualifier at 133 for the Huskers last year took over at 149 for Brock Hardy. If Nebraska wants a shot at the title they will need guys like Taylor Venz and Lovett to wrestle above and beyond their seeds. #9 Minnesota is getting closer to being the national powerhouse they were in the J Robinson era. The Gophers are led by 285 Gable Steveson who is one of the most entertaining wrestlers to watch. #11 Illinois has had a better than expected year and should be right there to battle for a top 5 team spot. #12 Ohio State has maybe under performed a little bit this year but has seen a big progression from their 125 Malik Heinselman. Ultimately though Iowa is just too good, and has too many top end point scorers in a conference tournament setting for them to not win it. 

Predicted Team Champion: Iowa Hawkeyes 

Projected Team Top 10

  1. Iowa Hawkeyes
  2. Nebraska Cornhuskers
  3. Penn State Nittany Lions
  4. Michigan Wolverines 
  5. Minnesota Golden Gophers
  6. Ohio State Buckeyes
  7. Illinois Fighting Illini
  8. Northwestern Wildcats
  9. Purdue Boilermakers
  10. Wisconsin Badgers

Weight by Weight Breakdown

125 Pounds (8AQs)


1. Spencer Lee, Iowa

2. Liam Cronin, Nebraska

3. Malik Heinselman, Ohio State

4. Patrick Mckee, Minnesota

5. Rayvon Foley, Michigan State

6. Eric Barnett, Wisconsin

7. Devin Schroder, Purdue

8. Michael DeAugustino, Northwestern

9. Dylan Ragusin, Michigan

10. Justin Cardani, Illinois

11. Robert Howard, Penn State

12. Jacob Moran, Indiana

13. Dylan Shawver, Rutgers

14. Zach Spence, Maryland


2x National Champion Spencer Lee is clear and away the favorite to win this weight. The most interesting thing to watch throughout the tournament with him is if he is able to pin all of his opponents and how many points he scores before doing so. After Lee this weight is really interesting based on the preseeds. Liam Cronin was a big transfer get for Nebraska in the offseason and is the 2 seed. Cronin and Malik Heinselman did not meet during the regular season as Nebraska and Ohio State weren’t scheduled to dual. Cronin beat Heinselman 8-3 at last year’s Big Ten Tournament while wrestling for Indiana where he finished 5th. Cronin lost to Thomsen of Nebraska in the opening round and wrestled all the way back defeating Thomsen in the 5th place match. Cronin’s only loss on the season is to top seed Lee. Cronin’s best wins are over 4 seed Mckee and 5 seed Foley. Heinselman was 7th at this weight a year ago. Mckee was the 3 seed at last year’s Big Ten Tournament but went 0-2 while battling some injuries. Mckee has wins over Foley, Schroder, and DeAugustino, but lost to 6 seed Barnett 17-4, and Cronin 8-1. Foley has losses to Mckee, Heinselman and Cronin but has a big win over 7 seed Schroder. Barnett lost his first 2 matches of the year to Cardani and Heinselman but hasn’t lost since, including wins over Schroder and Mckee. Schroder was the conference runner up in 2020 at this weight but has had a bit of a down year with losses to Barenett, Mckee and Foley. It’s interesting that Barentt and Schroder neither one wrestled Cronin when Wisconsin and Purdue dualed Nebraska. There is a lot of unknown headed into this tournament as the sample size of some of these teams isn’t very big with the limited Big Ten dual action. 

Bold Prediction: Devin Schroder and Eric Barnett place higher than their pre-seeds. Robbie Howard gets an automatic qualifying spot.  

Projected Champion: Spencer Lee, Iowa

Projected Top 8 

  1. Spencer Lee (Iowa)
  2. Liam Cronin (Nebraska)
  3. Eric Barnett (Wisconsin)
  4. Devin Schroder (Purdue)
  5. Malik Heinselman (Ohio State)
  6. Patrick Mckee (Minnesota)
  7. Rayvon Foley (Michigan State)
  8. Robert Howard (Penn State) 

133 Pounds (8AQs)


1. Roman Bravo-Young, Penn State

2. Austin DeSanto, Iowa

3. Sammy Alvarez, Rutgers

4. Lucas Byrd, Illinois

5. Chris Cannon, Northwestern

6. Jack Medley, Michigan

7. Boo Dryden, Minnesota

8. Jordan Decatur, Ohio State

9. Jacob Rundell, Purdue

10. Kyle Burwick, Wisconsin

11. Tucker Sjomeling, Nebraska

12. Jordan Hamdan, Michigan State

13. Kyle Luigs, Indiana

14. Jackson Cockrell, Maryland


Get your popcorn ready. Who doesn’t love a potential DeSanto/RBY match up! Desanto has been on a tear all year long. It helps when you have dudes like Lee and Eierman in the room pushing you as well. But we can’t forget that Bravo-Young beat DeSanto 3-2 in the semifinals at Big Ten’s last year. The only match up between the top 4 guys at this weight that has happened is DeSanto/Bryd, which was an 18-6 final for Desanto. Byrd and Cannon’s best wins are over Boo Dryden. Jack Medley started out at 133 but then cut to 125 when there was a possibility that Micic was going to wrestle. Since Micic isn’t going to compete, it made the most sense for Medley to go 133. Outside of Dryden’s losses to the guys mentioned before he has beat everyone else. Decatur has losses to  Byrd, Medley and RBY. The pre-seeds  at this weight will change, as Rutgers announced that Sammy Alvarez will miss the Big Ten Tournament. 

Bold Prediction: RBY beats Desanto by 4 points or more. 

Projected Champion: Roman Bravo-Young, Penn State

Projected top 8

  1. Ramon Bravo-Young (Penn State)
  2. Austin DeSanto (Iowa)
  3. Chris Cannon (Northwestern)
  4. Lucas Byrd (Illinois)
  5. Boo Dryden (Minnesota)
  6. Jack Medley (Michigan)
  7. Jordan Decatuer (Ohio State) 
  8. Tucker Sjomeling (Nebraska)

141 Pounds (8AQs)


1. Jaydin Eierman, Iowa

2. Nick Lee, Penn State

3. Sebastian Rivera, Rutgers

4. Chad Red, Nebraska

5. Dylan Duncan, Illinois

6. Marcus Polanco, Minnesota

7. Dylan D’Emilio, Ohio State

8. Drew Mattin, Michigan

9. Parker Filius, Purdue

10. Cayden Rooks, Indiana

11. Danny Bertoni, Maryland

12. Matt Santos, Michigan State

13. Colin Valdiviez, Northwestern

14. Dominic Dentino, Wisconsin


What a get Eierman has been for the Hawkeyes. His closest match this season was his opening match against Chad Red which he won 8-4. Nick Lee hasn’t been tested really this season either. Lee will have a big time semifinal match with Sebastian Rivera. Rivera was the Big Ten Champion at 133 last year but has since transferred to Rutgers and moved up to 141. Rivera is really the only guy that has given Spencer Lee much trouble in college but that was 2 years ago at 125. Rivera hasn’t wrestled a match since the end of January so it will be interesting to see what he looks like. There might be a real possibility that he doesn’t even actually wrestle and they just hope to get him a wildcard. The safe route could be to get him in the semifinals and forfeit to 6th place. Chad Red is probably licking his chops to get another shot at Eierman. He was able to secure the first takedown in the first meeting but that was about all he could get going. Red has to be ready to go in the quarterfinals though as he just narrowly beat Duncan in the dual with Illinois just a few weeks ago. Dylan Duncan’s only losses are to Red and Eierman. Palanco has only lost to Duncan, Red and Eierman. After these guys the final two spots seem to be a little bit of a toss up D’Emilio did beat Mattin 7-6 earlier this year. 

Bold Prediction: Sebastian Rivera makes the semifinals and forfeits to 6th Place. 

Projected Champion: Nick Lee, Penn State

Projected Top 8

  1. Nick Lee (Penn State)
  2. Jaydin Eierman (Iowa)
  3. Chad Red Jr. (Nebraska)
  4. Dylan Duncan (Illinois)
  5. Marcus Polanco (Minnesota)
  6. Sebastian Riveria (Rutgers)
  7. Drew Mattin (Michigan)
  8. Dylan D’Emilio (Ohio State)

149 Pounds (7AQs)


1. Sammy Sasso, Ohio State

2. Max Murin, Iowa

3. Griffin Parriott, Purdue

4. Yahya Thomas, Northwestern

5. Kanen Storr, Michigan

6. Michael Blockhus, Minnesota

7. Ridge Lovett, Nebraska

8. Mike VanBrill, Rutgers

9. Graham Rooks, Indiana

10. Peyton Omania, Michigan State

11. Beau Bartlett, Penn State

12. Drew Scharenbrock, Wisconsin

13. Christian Kanzler, Illinois

14. Michael North, Maryland


Sammy Sasso has been pretty dominant all year long, including a fall over 2 seed Murin. Murin and Parriott didn’t wrestle each other in the dual. Parriott has a pretty small sample size as he only has 5 matches. Parriott was 6th at this weight at last year’s Big Ten tournament. Yahya Thomas has only 2 losses on the year so far, 1 to Blockhus and 1 to Mikey Carr who didn’t get entered for Illinois. Storr’s only losses are to Sasso and Omania. Blockhus has a win over Thomas, but losses to Van Brill, Carr, Murin and Brock Hardy of Nebraska. Ridge Lovett is the wildcard at this weight. He is going to be a problem for guys. He hasn’t lost to anyone of these guys, but also wrestled very many. Moving up 2 weight classes he has looked really good and looks to be on the right side of the bracket as he is away from Sasso. Lovett nearly pulled an upset in the quarterfinals last year when he lost to DeSanto 1-0. He got a really good shot to make the finals and propel the Huskers in the team race. 

Bold Prediction: Ridge Lovett beats Max Murin in the quarterfinals. 

Projected Champion: Sammy Sasso, Ohio State

Projected Top 8

  1. Sammy Sasso (Ohio State)
  2. Ridge Lovett (Nebraska)
  3. Max Murin (Iowa)
  4. Griffin Parriott (Purdue)
  5. Yahya Thomas (Northwestern)
  6. Kanen Storr (Michigan)
  7. Michael Blockhus (Minnesota)
  8. Beau Bartlett (Penn State) 

157 Pounds (8AQs)


1. Ryan Deakin, Northwestern

2. Kaleb Young, Iowa

3. Brayton Lee, Minnesota

4. Kendall Coleman, Purdue

5. Brady Berge, Penn State

6. Will Lewan, Michigan

7. Chase Saldate, Michigan State

8. Garrett Model, Wisconsin

9. Elijah Cleary, Ohio State

10. Caleb Licking, Nebraska

11. Michael Doestsch, Maryland

12. Johnny Mologousis, Illinois

13. Luke Baughman, Indiana

14. NO ENTRY, Rutgers


Ryan Deakin made his season debut 3 weeks ago and has Looked as dominant as anyone in the country, including a 21-0 win over 3 Seed Brayton Lee. Kaleb Young outlasted Lee in a marathon 4-3 TB in the dual earlier this season. Young hasn’t wrestled since January as he was part of the Hawkeye group that was out with Covid. Lee beat Kendal Coleman 3-2 in the dual with Purdue. Coleman has beat everyone else the schedule has put in front of him, including Saldate in OT and Model. Berge is 5-0 with wins over Lewan, Cleary and Model. Lewan has wins over Cleary and Saldate. Saldate has a win over Cleary. Model has a win over Cleary. One thing to keep an eye on is how Young looks after a long layoff. Young is always in tight matches so the rust could be a problem in a tough semifinal with Lee. 

Bold Prediction: Ryan Deakin earns Bonus Points for Northwestern  in every match. 

Projected Champion: Ryan Deakin, Northwestern

Projected Top 8

  1. Ryan Deakin (Northwestern)
  2. Brayton Lee (Minnesota)
  3. Kaleb Young (Iowa)
  4. Kendall Coleman (Purdue)
  5. Brady Berge (Penn State)
  6. Will Lewan (Michigan)
  7. Chase Saldate (Michigan State)
  8. Garrett Model (Wisconsin)

165 Pounds (8AQs)


1. Alex Marinelli, Iowa

2. Dan Braunagel, Illinois

3. Ethan Smith, Ohio State

4. Cameron Amine, Michigan

5. Andrew Sparks, Minnesota

6. Joe Lee, Penn State

7. Peyton Robb, Nebraska

8. Jack Tucker, Michigan State

9. Nick South, Indiana

10. Gerrit Nijenhuis, Purdue

11. Jonathan Spadafora, Maryland

12. David Ferrante, Northwestern

13. Brett Donner, Rutgers

14. Josh Otto, Wisconsin


Alex Marinelli is another Hawkeye that has missed an extended period of time from Covid. He only has 2 matches on the year. Which were both wins over Robb and Sparks. Braunagel has wins over Smith and Robb. Smith has only one loss and wins over Cameron Amine and Joe Lee. Amine’s only loss is to Smith and has wins over Lee and Jack Tucker. Sparks only loss is to Marinelli and he has wins over Robb and Tucker. Lee only has losses to Amine and Smith. Robb has losses to Marinelli, Brunagel and Sparks and a win over South. Tucker has losses to Sparks, South, Smith and Amine. South has losses to Nijenhuis, Braunagel, Robb, Lee and Amine, but has a win over Tucker. 

Bold Prediction: Joe Lee or Peyton Robb make the finals. 

Projected Champion: Alex Marinelli, Iowa

Projected Top 8

  1. Alex Marinelli (Iowa)
  2. Dan Braunagel (Illinois)
  3. Ethan Smith (Ohio State)
  4. Cameron Amine (Michigan)
  5. Peyton Robb (Nerbaska) 
  6. Joe Lee (Penn State)
  7. Andrew Sparks (Minnesota)
  8. Nick South (Indiana)

174 Pounds (8AQs)

1. Michael Kemerer, Iowa

2. Mikey Labriola, Nebraska

3. Carter Starocci, Penn State

4. Logan Massa, Michigan

5. Donnell Washington, Indiana

6. Kaleb Romero, Ohio State

7. Jackson Turley, Rutgers

8. Jared Krattinger, Wisconsin

9. Jake Allar, Minnesota

10. Drew Hughes, Michigan State

11. DJ Shannon, Illinois

12. Emil Soehnien, Purdue

13. Troy Fisher, Northwestern

14. Philip Spadafora, Maryland

Top seed Kemerer and Labriola did not wrestle each other when Iowa and Nebraska dualed earlier this season. Labriola has been fantastic this season. It’s a little bit of a head scratcher as to why he’s not the top seed here. He wrestled in the dual and Kemerer did not. The coaches probably took into consideration that Labriola lost to Kemerer last season. Starocci has had a great first season in the lineup for Penn State. He has wins over Massa and Romero but lost to Washington 10-9. Massa is an incredible talent that has always under performed a little bit. Massa has the lone loss to Starocci but also has a win over Washington. Washington has losses to Massa and Labriola, and wins over Starocci and Hughes. Romero has losses to Starocci and Kemerer, and wins over Krattinger and Hughes. 

Bold Prediction: Michigan State’s Drew Hughes finishes top 6. 

Projected Champion: Mikey Labriola, Nebraska 

Projected Top 8

  1. Mikey Labriola (Nebraska)
  2. Michael Kemerer (Iowa)
  3. Carter Starocci (Penn State)
  4. Logan Massa (Michigan)
  5. Donnell Washington (Indiana)
  6. Drew Hughes (Michigan State)
  7. Kaleb Ramero (Ohio State)
  8. Jared Krattinger (Wisconsin) 

184 Pounds (8AQs)


1. Aaron Brooks, Penn State

2. Christopher Weiler, Wisconsin

3. Layne Malczewski, Michigan State

4. Owen Webster, Minnesota

5. John Poznanski, Rutgers

6. Taylor Venz, Nebraska

7. Max Lyon, Purdue

8. Zach Braunagel, Illinois

9. Nelson Brands, Iowa

10. Rocky Jordan, Ohio State

11. Kyle Cochran, Maryland

12. Jaden Bullock, Michigan

13. Jon Halvorsen, Northwestern

14. Santon Cantu III, Indiana


Aaron Brooks earned the top seed as the defending conference champion. Weiler has losses to Brooks and Jordan but wins over Lyon and Venz. Malczewski has wins over Webster and Jordan, but lost to Lyon. Webster has wins over Poznanski and Lyon, but losses to Malczewski and Nebraska backup Haas. Poznanski only has one loss to Webster, but wins over Jordan and Lyon. Venz missed the opening weekend against Minnesota with a skin issue. Then lost in his first match of the year to Brands and looked like he was still trying to get in the swing of things. Over the final two weeks of the season Venz looked to be back to his old self when beat Braunagel by major decision. He dropped a wild 11-10 match to quarterfinal opponent Weiler. If Venz can avenge that loss to Weiler he has a really good chance to make the finals. His finals opponent would likely be Brooks, who he split with last season. Brooks has looked really good this year but don’t count Venz out in that match. Venz winning the Big Ten title over Brooks would make seeding at the NCAA tourney really interesting. 

Bold Prediction: Taylor Venz makes the Finals

Projected Top 8

  1. Aaron Brooks (Penn State)
  2. Taylor Venz (Nebraska)
  3. Christopher Weiler (Wisconsin) 
  4. Nelson Brands (Iowa)
  5. Layne Malczawski (Michigan State)
  6. Max Lyon (Purdue)
  7. Zach Braunagel (Illinois)
  8. Rocky Jordan (Ohio State) 

197 Pounds (6AQs)


1. Eric Schultz, Nebraska

2. Myles Amine, Michigan

3. Jacob Warner, Iowa

4. Cam Caffey, Michigan State

5. Lucas Davison, Northwestern

6. Thomas Penola, Purdue

7. Michael Beard, Penn State

8. Matt Wroblewski, Illinois

9. Gavin Hoffman, Ohio State

10. Billy Janzer, Rutgers

11. Garrett Joles, Minnesota

12. Jaron Smith, Maryland

13. Nick Willham, Indiana

14. Andrew Salemme, Wisconsin


Nebraska and top tier 197 pounders go together like peanut butter and jelly. Nothing has changed as Eric Schultz is ranked #1 in most polls. Schultz beat Warner 3-2 and Caffey 6-5. He has yet to wrestle Amine this season. Amine took an olympic redshirt in 2020 and is up 2 weights from 174 in 2019 where he was the Big Ten Runner up. Amine only has 3 matches on the year. He beat Beard and Hoffman 8-5 and Caffey 11-6. Warner dropped his opening match of the year to Schultz 3-2 and hasn’t lost since. Caffey is maybe the most dangerous 197 on planet earth. His extensive Greco background gives him the ability to take anyone from feet to back at anypoint. Caffey was the Big Ten runner-up at 184 last year. Caffey dropped matches to only Schultz and Amine. Lucas Davison only dropped one match this year, and that was 3-2 to Schultz. Penola only lost to Warner and Caffey, but beat Wroblewski, Hoffman and Janzer. Beard is an impressive talent and has only lost the one match to Amine this year. Wroblewski has losses to Schutlz, Warner and Penola. 

Bold Prediction: I don’t know if this is exactly bold, but Schultz wins the Big Ten Title and clearly cements himself as the #1 seed at the NCAA Tournament. 

Projected Champion: Eric Schultz, Nebraska 

Projected Top 8

  1. Eric Schultz (Nebraska)
  2. Myles Amine (Michigan)
  3. Cam Caffey (Michigan State)
  4. Jacob Warner (Iowa) 
  5. Michael Beard (Penn State)
  6. Lucas Davison (Northwestern)
  7. Thomas Penola (Purdue)
  8. Matt Wroblewski (Illinois)

 285 Pounds (7AQs)


1. Gable Steveson Minnesota

2. Mason Parris Michigan

3. Tony Cassioppi Iowa

4. Luke Luffman, Illinois

5. Christian Lance, Nebraska

6. Trent Hilger, Wisconsin

7. Greg Kerkvliet, Penn State

8. Tate Orndorff, Ohio State

9. Christian Rebottaro Michigan State

10. Jack Heyob, Northwestern

11. Christian Colucci, Rutgers

12. Dorian Keys, Purdue

13. Rudy Streck, Indiana

14. Garrett Kappes, Maryland


Gable Steveson is one of the more impressive heavyweights you will ever see. He’s slick, quick and explosive. After battling some legal trouble last year he eventually came back in the second half of the year and won the Big Ten title. Parris was not only a big time wrestling recruit out of high school but he was also a high profile football recruit that chose to go the wrestling route. Parris was the runner up to Stevenson last year with a 28-1 record. Parris was a qualifier in 2019, but quickly followed up his freshman campaign with a Junior freestyle world title. Parris is most likely licking his chops for the rematch with Stevesen. Cassioppi originally committed to Illinois out of high school but eventually flipped his commitment to Iowa where he has had a pretty successful start to his career. Cassioppi was third a year ago at Big Ten’s behind Steveson and Parris. Cassioppi’s only loss this year is to Steveson. Luffman has wins over Lance, Orndorff and Hilger, but losses to Cassioppi and Steveson. Lance has a win over Hilger, but lost to Steveson, Cassioppi and Luffman. Hilger has a win over Orndorff, but lost to Luffman and Lance. Kerkvliet has had quite the adventure to start his college career. He Started out last year at Ohio State but transferred to Penn State in the middle of the year. He then suffered an injury this year that Penn State thought wasn’t season ending. Then just a few weeks ago they thought he was quite possibly done for the year. That was followed up by him wrestling in a dual for them just a few days after that comment. How healthy is he that might be the main question. If he is healthy, I’m sure Michigan isnt real excited that he got the 7 seed as he is way better than that. The 8 seed Tate Orndorff transferred into Ohio State from Utah Valley, where he was a 2x qualifier. This took many people by surprise as Ohio State already had a more than serviceable 285 in “Gas Tank” Gary Traub. Orndorff has lost to most of the top guys as 285 is a really good weight in the Big Ten. Outside of Parris and Steveson you could probably wrestle this weight 10 times and get 10 different results. 

Bold Prediction: Greg Kerkvliet Places 3rd or higher. 

Projected Champion: Gable Steveson, Minnesota

Project Top 8 

  1. Gable Steveson (Minnesota)
  2. Mason Parris (Michigan)
  3. Greg Kerkvliet (Penn State)
  4. Tony Cassioppi (Iowa)
  5. Trent Hilger (Wisonsin)
  6. Luke Luffman (Illinois)
  7. Christian Lance (Nebraska)
  8. Tate Orndorff (Ohio State)

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