2010 NCAA DI Tournament Predictions and Team Rank

As the 2009-2010 wrestling season approaches, teams are planning and strategizing how they can improve upon last season’s performance, break into the top ten, or even vie for a title. But as Helmuth Von Moltke, a 19th century Prussian Field Marshall, is famed for saying, “no battle plan survives contact with the enemy.” While each team develops and works their plan, for sure their fierce competitors will have something to say about it.

NCAA 2010 Wrestling Championship LogoAs the 2009-2010 wrestling season approaches, teams are planning and strategizing how they can improve upon last season’s performance, break into the top ten, or even vie for a title.  But as Helmuth Von Moltke, a 19th century Prussian Field Marshall, is famed for saying, “no battle plan survives contact with the enemy.”   While each team develops and works their plan, for sure their fierce competitors will have something to say about it. 

And so it is with rankings and predictions, there is no telling who will step it up, get injured, or fall apart.  These predictions are this writer’s view based on the author’s established factors.  These predictions weight accomplishments of returning wrestlers higher than all other factors, secondly, they weight number of returning NCAA qualifiers, and thirdly, they estimate the potential for returning wrestlers to earn points in 2010.

Predictions are one person’s view of the odds.  Odds change as facts square with prediction.  And just as coaches and teams adjust their expectations as the season develops, these predictions will change as well.   I’m sure all but the top team hope that I’m wrong, and I hope that I am too because I would like to see a few of my favorites do better than I predict.  Enjoy and let me know where I have it wrong.

Scroll down for top 10 commentary, click here to jump to top 25 tournament team ranking, or click here to jump to the top 25 tournament team poll.

1 – Iowa

The Hawkeyes captured the team title in 2009 over Ohio St. by one of the slimmest margins of victory in tournament history: 96.5 to 92. All five of their All-American wrestlers return for the 2010 championships making them a formidable team to knock from their title perch. With 7 of their 8 qualifiers returning, they essentially return with the 2009 team intact. Adding one or two emerging talents to the line-up should stretch the margin of victory.

Returning NCAA Tournament Qualifiers

  1. Daniel Dennis(RSSR) – 7th at 133 in 2009
  2. Brent Metcalf(RSSR) – 2nd at 149 in 2009
  3. Ryan Morningstar(RSSR) – 3rd at 165 in 2009
  4. Jay Borschel (RSSR) – 174 in 2009
  5. Philip Keddy(RSSR) – 4th at 184 in 2009
  6. Chad Beaty(RSSR) – 197 in 2009
  7. Daniel Erekson(Sr) – 4th at 285 in 2009

Team Links

2 – Iowa St.

While Iowa may be this year’s favorite, Iowa St. has the best shot at defeating the Hawkeyes. Some may even consider the Cyclones as this year’s favorite, and they would have a strong case. The Cyclones return 8 tournament qualifiers with 4 returning All-Americans. All but two athletes return to claim the team title.

However, they will compete this season under the stewardship of new head coach, Kevin Jackson. While Jackson has big shoes to fill in replacing Cael Sanderson, he is an accomplished wrestler in his own right. Jackson is a 1992 Olympic Gold Medalist, a two-time World Champion, and a member of the last Iowa State team to win a National Team Championship. Jackson is one of five wrestlers in U.S. history with three career world-level titles. Expect Jackson to set his sights on bringing home his second National Team Championship to Iowa St.

Returning NCAA Tournament Qualifiers

  1. Nicholas Fanthorpe(Sr) – 133 in 2009
  2. Nick Gallick(Sr) – 3rd at 141 in 2009
  3. Mitch Mueller (Sr) – 149 in 2009
  4. Jonathan Reader (Jr) – 4th at 165 in 2009
  5. Ryan Burk(Sr) – 174 in 2009
  6. Jerome Ward(RSSO) – 184 in 2009
  7. Jake Varner (Sr) – 1st at 197 in 2009
  8. David Zabrinskie(Sr) – 5th at 285 in 2009

Team Links

3 – Ohio St.

In 2006, the season before Tom Ryan took the head coaching reins at Ohio St., the Buckeyes finished 45th and scored 5.5 points at the NCAA championships. His first year on the job, the Buckeyes placed 10th, then followed it up with two consecutive runner-up finishes in 2008 and 2009. Last year they fell 4.5 points shy of capturing the title. Though Iowa and Iowa St. return more All-Americans than the Buckeyes, Ryan has consistently proven he can recruit and develop great talent. Don’t count the Buckeyes out to challenge for the title in Nebraska.

Returning NCAA Tournament Qualifiers

  1. Nikko Triggas(Sr) – 125 in 2009
  2. Reece Humphrey(RSSR) – 2nd at 133 in 2009
  3. Lance Palmer(Sr) – 4th at 149 in 2009
  4. Colt Sponseller(Jr) – 165 in 2009
  5. David Rella(Sr) – 174 in 2009
  6. Mike Pucillo(RSSR) – 2nd at 184 in 2009
  7. Corey Morrison(RSSR) – 285 in 2009

Team Links

4 – Missouri

Coach Brian Smith, at the head coaching reins for 10 years, is looking to improve upon his team’s 7th place finish in 2010. Under Smith’s stewardship, Mizzou has crowned its first-ever national champion, has attracted a record setting attendance of 2,772 fans, has encourage academic performance with 15 wrestlers recognized for academic achievement during his tenure, and has coached 11 All-Americans to 17 top 8 performances. While his goal of an NCAA championship eludes him, he continues to move closer, with 2009 being the first season to break the top 10.

With 3 returning All-Americans and 5 returning qualifiers, he needs his veteran wrestler’s to improve upon last year’s performance and for a few or more of his rookies to qualify and score points. He will look for a repeat title performance from Mark Ellis, and for Maxwell Askren and Nick Marable to improve upon their respective 5th and 7th place finishes. Coach Smith and team have their work cut out for them since Mizzou placed 7th last year while crowning 5 All-Americans.  It’s not enough to have many All-Americans; the AAs need to place high, and the others need to run deep.

Returning NCAA Tournament Qualifiers

  1. Todd Schavrien(Jr) – 133 in 2009
  2. Nick Marable(Jr) – 7th at 165 in 2009
  3. Dorian Henderson(RSSO) – 184 in 2009
  4. Maxwell Askren(Sr) – 5th at 197 in 2009
  5. Mark Ellis(Sr) – 1st at 285 in 2009

Team Links

5 – Boise St.

The Broncos finished 12th last year while crowning 3 All-Americans. They return 2 AA’s and one wrestler shy of the 2009 squad with 8 returning qualifiers in 2010 — even with Iowa St. for the most returning qualifiers. They will need at least 2 more All-Americans in 2010 to secure a 5th place team finish while their 2 returning AAs will need to improve upon last season’s performance.

This is a reasonable expectation from this returning veteran squad. Adam Hall at 157 was one round away from All-American honors when he dropped a 6-4 decision to 8th place Tyler Safratowich of Minnesota. Kirk Smith fell from first place contention when he dropped a quarterfinal decision to 6th place AA Vince Jones of Nebraska and then one win short of AA honors when he lost a decision to 7th place AA Josh Patterson of Binghamton in the wrestle backs. Also returning at 174 is Nathan Lee who scored points for the Broncos, but suffered difficult losses to 4th Place AA Brandon Browne of Nebraska and 5th place AA Steve Anceravage of Cornell.

Of course, nothing is assured, but with many quality veterans returning in 2010, they have as good a chance as any to secure a 5th place finish in 2010.

Returning NCAA Tournament Qualifiers

  1. Brian Owen (So) – 125 in 2009
  2. Andrew Hochstrasser(RSJR) – 4th at 133 in 2009
  3. Cory Fish – 141 in 2009
  4. Jason Chamberlain (So) – 149 in 2009
  5. Adam Hall(RSJR) – 157 in 2009
  6. Nathan Lee(RSSR) – 174 in 2009
  7. Kirk Smith(Jr) – 184 in 2009
  8. Brent Chriswell (RSJR) – 6th at 197 in 2009

Team Links

6 – Cornell

Rob Koll had plenty of reason for high hopes to bring a team title home to Ithaca  in 2009. The Big Red crowned 4 All-Americans and one champion. The expectations were for at least 5 AA’s and plans for 3 finalists: Troy Nickerson was 2nd seed at 125, Jordan Leen was 3rd seed and a returning champion, and Sophomore Mack Lewnes was the number one seed at 165. As too often happens at this tournament, difficult upsets derail the best of plans, yet The Big Red still had an outstanding performance with a fifth place finish.

The affable, always sanguine, and passionate Koll has high expectations again for this year’s team. He has good reason. Aiming for a second national title and a forth All-American honor, Nickerson will score many points for The Big Red. Also returning All-American Cam Simaz will look to improve upon his 8th place finish. While returning AA Mike Grey (6th in 2008) fell short of a repeat, he will be one of the wrestlers that Koll will count on to improve upon last season’s performance. Mack Lewnes, number 1 seed at 165 in 2009, will aim to avenge his upset at his new weight of 174lbs.  Finally, Koll has high expectations for his number one recruit, Kyle Dake, who he touts as “the second coming of Troy.” While that’s a heavy standard to thrust upon a new recruit, New York fans expect big things from this young man, and he very likely will surprise many this season.

If all goes to plan, Koll and The Big Red could very well improve upon last season’s outstanding performance and possibly contend for a top 3 finish.

Returning NCAA Tournament Qualifiers

  1. Troy Nickerson(RSSR) – 1st at 125
  2. Mike Grey(Jr) – 133 in 2009
  3. DJ Meagher(Jr) – 149 in 2009
  4. JMack Lewnes(Jr) – 165 in 2009
  5. Justin Kerber(RSJR) – 184 in 2009
  6. Cam Simaz(RSSO) – 8th in 2009

Team Links

7 – Illinois

The Fighting Illini begin the 2009-2010 season under the leadership of newly promoted head coach Jim Heffernan. Heffernan served as top assistant under Mark Johnson for the past 19 years. Heffernan is a graduate of University of Iowa where he was a four time All-American and 150-pound NCAA champion in 1986. Heffernan will lead a veteran team with 7 returning NCAA qualifiers and 2 returning All-Americans.

Heffernan will count on improved performances from John Wise(7th) and James Kennedy(5th) while looking to John Dergo(174) and Ryan Prater(141) to secure AA honors. Both Dergo and Prater were one decision away from earning AA honors in 2009. Dergo lost a decision to 7th place AA Christopher Henrich of Viriginia, and Prater suffered a close 3-2 decision to 4th place AA Zach Tanelli of Wisconsin. With the remaining wrestlers wrestling deep and scoring points, Fighting Illini could easily surpass last season’s 8th place finish.

Returning NCAA Tournament Qualifiers

  1. Bernard Futrell(So) – 125 in 2009
  2. James Kennedy (Sr) – 5th at 133 in 2009
  3. Ryan Prater(Jr) – 141 in 2009
  4. John Dergo(Sr) – 174 in 2009
  5. Jordan Blanton(So) – 184 in 2009
  6. Patrick Bond(RSSR) – 197 in 2009
  7. John Wise(RSSR) – 7th at 285 in 2009

Team Links

8 – Nebraska

The Husker’s are coming off a 4th place finish in 2009 while returning 4 qualifying wrestlers. Returning are 2 AA-American finalists: Jordan Burroughs, champion at 157, and Craig Brester, runner-up at 197. They need repeat performances from the two AAs, and at least one additional AA to support a top ten finish. One possible candidate is Stephen Dwyer, a senior, who suffered a double overtime loss in the wrestle backs to 7th place AA Nick Marable of Missouri. Additionally, the Huskers will need to qualify a few more wrestlers who are able to wrestle deep to secure a top-ten finish in 2010.

Returning NCAA Tournament Qualifiers

  1. Jordan Burroughs(Sr) – 1st at 157 in 2009
  2. Stephen Dwyer(Sr) – 165 in 2009
  3. Craig Brester(RSSR) – 2nd at 197 in 2009
  4. Tucker Lane(RSSO) – 285 in 2009

Team Links

9 – Maryland

Longwood product, Kerry McCoy took the head coaching reins for the Terrapins in 2008-2009 season. The Terrapins improved upon their 2008 21st finish with a 10th place finish in 2009, the second-best finish in program history. They return this season with 4 tournament veterans and 3 All-Americans. To improve upon their top 10 finish, they need repeat performances from their veterans and a few rookies who can score some points.

Returning NCAA Tournament Qualifiers

  1. Brendan Byrne(RSSR) – 125 in 2009
  2. Steve Bell(RSSR) – 6th at 133 in 2009
  3. Alex Krom(RSSR) – 5th at 141 in 2009
  4. Hudson Taylor(RSSR) – 3rd at 197 in 2009

Team Links

10 – Penn State

With the appointment of Cael Sanderson to the head coaching job expectations for the Nittany Lions run high. In his 3 year tenure at Iowa St., Sanderson got 30 wrestlers to the championships, all 10 every year. With 6 returning veterans and a strong recruiting class, it’s very likely he will continue his impressive record.

The Lions look to returning AAs Frank Molinaro(8th) and Quentin Wright(6th) to improve upon last year’s 17th place performance. Bubba Jenkins returns at 149, an AA and runner-up in 2008. One decision away from AA honors, Cyler Sanderson was released from Iowa St. to wrestler for his brother,Cael. Dan Vallimont also one decision shy of AA honors at 165 returns for a one last try.

One can make a strong case for 5 Nittany Lion All-Americans in 2010. It’s a lot of ifs, but with Sanderson at the reins, we may very well see the Lions in contention for a championship in 2010.

Returning NCAA Tournament Qualifiers

  1. Brad Pataky(RSJR) – 125 in 2009
  2. Frank Molinaro(RSSO) – 8th at 141 in 2009
  3. Bubba Jenkins(Sr) – 149 in 2009
  4. Cyler Sanderson(Sr) – 157 in 2009
  5. Dan Vallimont(RSSR) – 165 in 2009
  6. Quentin Wright(So) – 6th at 174 in 2009

Team Links

Top 25 Ranking

Rank Team Returning AA’s 2009 Finish
1 Iowa 5 1
2 Iowa State 4 3
3 Ohio State 3 2
4 Missouri 3 7
5 Boise State 2 12
6 Cornell 2 5
7 Illinois 2 8
8 Nebraska 2 4
9 Maryland 3 10
10 Penn State 2 17
11 Central Michigan 2 14
12 Minnesota 2 14
13 Wisconsin 2 9
14 Arizona State 2 20
15 Indiana 1 24
16 Oklahoma State 1 16
17 Michigan State 1 25
18 N. Carolina State 1 18
19 Northwestern University 1 13
20 Michigan 1 11
21 Navy 1 25
22 Bucknell 1 29
23 American 2 29
24 Virginia 1 34
25 Wyoming 1 32
26 Duke 1 35

Answer the poll to rank the top 5 NCAA DI tournament teams for the 2010 championship in Nebraska. Select up to 5 teams before submitting your vote.

Top 25 DI Tournament Team Poll

[poll id=”26″]

How would you rank the tournament competitiveness of the NCAA DI teams for 2009/2010. Please comment and let us know.


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8 thoughts on “2010 NCAA DI Tournament Predictions and Team Rank”

  1. love the college rankings….I would predict Iowa, Iowa State, Ohio State, Cornell and Penn State as the top 5 in that order.

  2. It is important to remember that two of Penn State’s more accomplished wrestlers, Jenkins and Wright are rumored be RSing in 2010…Therefore, top-5 might be a little bit ambitious

  3. i think any where cael goes his team should be in anybodys top 5; to me it does not matter & in any order who the top 4 teams u pick are, penn state i feel has to be in most top 5 teams, even with all the red shirts they will have this coming yr. my point; i think the talent he had at iowa state was not as good as the level the team wrestled to. maybe a level or 2 below. they are good young men as well as good wrestlers
    for what ever it is cael steped them up to a whole new level in life & in wrestling it seams to me.

    we will see come march 2010 not only about penn state but iowa state as well.

    go get’em happy valley

    class of 68 hwt az

  4. It seems pretty atypical to leave Oklahoma State out of the top 25. Yes, they had a down year last year, and they do not have a lot of returning AAs etc. (though under any circumstances they have more than Duke) but they have had good recruiting classes the last 2 years and I would think they will be close to the top 10 by the end of the season. OU also should be in any top 25.

    1. JBB,

      Thanks for bringing this to my attention. You are correct: Oklahoma State belongs somewhere in the top 25. After reading your and Matt’s comments, I took a look at my spreadsheet, and Oklahoma State was missing from one of the worksheets used to evaluate the strength of the returning teams.

      Without going into too much detail, I must have mistakenly deleted them when removing duplicates. Okla St sorts adjacent to Ohio St, and consequently, I must have selected Okla St when removing duplicates for Ohio St.

      I will correct the ranking shortly when I can give it the time that it deserves. When I plugged Okla St into the spreadsheet, a quick analysis shows that they belong somewhere in the top 16.

      My apolgies to Oklahoma State and their fans for the mistake: a correction to follow shortly.

  5. JBB,

    I concur with your assessment that Oklahoma State has every reason in the world to foresee themselves back in the top-10 by the end of 2010.

    With a possible line-up consisting of the following, it would not surprise me to see the Cowboys claim upwards of 7-10 All-Americans this season:

    125- Chris Notte
    133- Jordan Oliver
    141- Jamal Parks
    149- Luke Silver/Albert White
    157- Neil Erisman
    165- Alex Meade
    174- Mike Benefiel
    184- Clayton Foster
    197- Alan Gelogaev
    285- Jared Rosholt

    With regard to Oklahoma, Coach Spates in going to need to get career best efforts out of his veterans (Bailey, Kyle Terry, Shane Vernon, Jeff James, Lapotsky, and Fernandez)….The quality of the young talent on this team (Patterson, Ekstrom, Lester brothers,etc) is so good that even if the Sooners do not break through this season, the future looks mighty bright.

  6. Great rankings…….Iowa State may prove that it will not miss a beat with its new coaching staff. Kevin Jackson’s best move may be bring Chris Bono back to Ames, as Bono demonstrated that he is on track to become an accomplished coach. Please note, however, that 125 lbr Tyler Clark has tansferred to Iowa, where he will be redshirting this hear.

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