This Week in Wrestling: Badgers begin postseason at National Duals
Feb. 13, 2013
Match Notes & Season Stats* http://grfx.cstv.com/graphics/icon-acrosmall.gif
THE WEEK AHEAD
The No. 18 Wisconsin wrestling team (7-6, 4-4 Big Ten) opens up postseason tournament play Sunday, Feb. 17, at the NWCA National Duals. The Badgers will compete in the Kent State Regional against No. 1 Oklahoma State, No. 24 Northern Iowa and Kent State.
Wisconsin, the No. 2 seed in its regional, will open in the first round at noon Sunday against third-seeded Northern Iowa (8-4) and will wrestle at 2 p.m., in either the finals, if it wins, or the extra match if it loses.
Last season at National Duals, the Badgers went 0-2, losing, 36-3, to Iowa State before falling to Northern Iowa, 30-15, in the extra match. Wisconsin won a total of five matches in the two duals, including a 2-0 effort from current 197 lbs., starter Jackson Hein.
Fans can follow the duals live on NWCAOnline.com, which will provide live brackets and results.
LAST TIME OUT: NO. 4 MINNESOTA
Last Sunday, Wisconsin fell in its final regular season dual of the season, losing to No. 4 Minnesota, 34-5.
Tyler Graff (133 lbs.) won the only match for the Badgers on the afternoon, defeating the Gophers'Cody Hodowanic by technical fall, 18-2 in 5:38. The technical fall victory was Graff's fourth extra point match win in a row, and his fifth in his past six dual meet decisions.
The loss to Minnesota at the UW Field House was Wisconsin's first at home this season. The Badgers finished the regular season with a 5-1 mark at home.
The Badgers' NWCA National Duals first round opponent, Northern Iowa, is certainly no stranger. Wisconsin and the Panthers have matched up at least once per season since the 1999-00 campaign. Sunday's meeting will be the fourth dual meeting between UW and UNI in the past two years.
Wisconsin wrestled Northern Iowa earlier this year on Nov. 24 at the UW Field House in a dual the Badgers won, 24-13. Six UW wrestlers won their matches that day: Matt Cavallaris (125 lbs., forfeit), Tyler Graff (141 lbs., fall), Cole Schmitt (149 lbs., decision), Dylan iczkowski (184 lbs., decision), Jackson Hein (197 lbs., decision) and Connor Medbery (Hwt., decision).
This will be the second season in a row that the Badgers and Panthers have matched up at NWCA National Duals. Last year at the Ames, Iowa, regional, UW and UNI faced off in the extra match with the Panthers coming out on top, 30-15.
Sunday in Kent, Ohio, will be the 44th all-time meeting between Wisconsin and Northern Iowa, making the Panthers the second most played non-Big Ten opponent in Badger wrestling history. Wisconsin leads the all-time series, 24-18-2.
NOT SO FAMILIAR: OKLAHOMA STATE AND KENT STATE
Wisconsin doesn't have much history against its other two potential opponents at National Duals. Combined, the Badgers have only faced Oklahoma State and Kent State 21 times in program history.
Wisconsin and Oklahoma State have matched up 17 times in history, with the Cowboys holding a commanding 14-3 advatnage. The two teams haven't faced eachother since the 2001-02 season when OSU took down Wisconsin, 38-3.
The Cowboys took second place at last year's NWCA National Duals.
Oklahoma State (13-0 overall) is currently the No. 1 ranked team in the NWCA/USA Today Coaches Poll. If the two teams meet at National Duals, it will be the second time this season the Badgers have faced a top-ranked team. Wisconsin faced then-No. 1 Penn State earlier this season Jan. 18 in Happy Valley, losing 36-6.
The Badgers and regional host Kent State have only met four times, with Wisconsin holding a 3-1 all-time series lead. The last time the Badgers met the Golden Flashes was the 2004-05 season, in a dual Wisconsin won, 29-12.
WISCONSIN WRESTLING IN THE POLLS
Following it's loss to No. 4 Minnesota last Sunday, Wisconsin held steady at No. 18 in the Feb. 12 edition of the NWCA/USA Today Coaches Poll. The No. 18 ranking is Wisconsin's highest since being ranked No. 15 in the final edition of the 2010-11 season.
The Badgers have three individually ranked wrestlers in the InterMat College Rankings. Heavyweight Connor Medbery and 197 lbs., starter Jackson Hein both held their spots at No. 11 and No. 17, respectively, despite losing their matches against Minnseota. Tyler Graff (133 lbs.) moved up a spot, from No. 5 to No. 4* with a technical fall win against the Gophers.
NCAA DIV. I COACHES PANEL RANKINGS
The first of three NCAA coaches panel rankings for each Division I weight class were released on Jan. 24, and the Badgers four wrestlers ranked at their respective weight classes.
Tyler Graff is ranked No. 3 at 133 lbs., Scott Liegel is ranked No. 28 at 174 lbs., Jackson Hein is ranked No. 18 at 197 lbs., and Connor Medbery is ranked No. 10 at heavyweight.
The coaches panel rankings are one of the key factors in determining the number of automatic qualifiers at each weight class per conference for the NCAA championships, which will be held Mar. 21-23 at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa.
NEAR PERFECT AT HEAVYWEIGHT
Led by No. 11 Connor Medbery, the Badgers finished the regular season with a near perfect 12-1 record in dual competition heavyweight bouts.
Medbery led the way with a 11-1 dual record, falling only to Minnesota's No. 2-ranked, and defending NCAA heavyweight champion, Tony Nelson in the regular season's final dual.
Cole Tobin, an NCAA qualifier last season, had Wisconsin's other heavyweight this season, starting and winning his match in the season-opener against Hofstra on Nov. 11.
Jackson Hein (197 lbs.) has been one of the biggest surprises for the Badgers this season and one of the main reaosns Wisconsin has been able to improve on its record from last season.
Compared to last season, the Wausau, Wis., native increased his overall wins by six, his dual wins by one and his wins against Big Ten competition by four.
Hein earned the first ranking of his career this season, breaking it at No. 20 following his upset over Michigan's then-No. 18 Max Huntley on Jan. 13. Hein improved on that ranking, moving up to No. 17, two weeks ago after another upset win over Purdue's then-No. 17 Braden Atwood.
Hein finished the regular season with a 16-7 overall record, including 10-3 in dual competitions and a 5-3 Big Ten conference record.
WELCOME BACK GRAFF
The Badgers are getting a boost this season from the return of two-time All-American Tyler Graff. Graff took an Olympic redshirt last season in order to train in an attempt to qualify for the 2012 Summer Olympics. He is the No. 4-ranked wrestler in the country at 133 lbs., and finished the regular season with a 22-4 record, including a 11-2 mark in dual competitions and a 7-1 Big Ten conference record.
Now wrestling at 133 lbs., Graff returns to the weight class where he is a two-time All-American (fifth place in both 2010 and 2011) and a two-time Midlands Championships winner (2009, 2010). He also took home second-place (2011) and fourth-place (2010) titles at the Big Ten championships in the weight class.
Graff has a pair of third-place titles at national tournaments this season, finishing third at 141 lbs., at the Cliff Keen Invite and at 133 lbs., at the 50th annual Midlands Championships both in the month of December.
BADGERS ON BTN
The Big Ten Network announced that it will provide the most coverage of Big Ten wrestling in network history this season, both on television and online. BTN's coverage includes coverage of the 2013 Big Ten Championships in Champaign, Ill., on Sunday, March 10, beginning at 1:30 p.m.