The upcoming NCAA season may only seem like a distant ship's smoke on the horizon during these long summer days, but that doesn't mean it's too early to start speculating about the 2017-18 season. But to start speculating, we'll need some information first. Just the basic facts.
To get a better idea of what we might see next season, we took a look back at the 2017 NCAA Wrestling Championships. We compared all the Division I programs by how many team points were earned by their underclassmen to see who will be returning the most firepower for the 2018 tournament.
Teams 11-20 | No. 10 Virginia Tech | No. 9 Lehigh | No. 8 Iowa | No. 7 Minnesota | No. 6 Arizona State | No. 5 Missouri | No. 3 Oklahoma State
No. 4 Michigan Wolverines: 57 PointsThe puzzle pieces of Joe McFarland's lineup are all coming together for the 2017-18 season at Michigan. The Wolverines finished 10th in the 2017 team race, but that is with three key starters sitting out last season on redshirt.
Those pieces and several others return for McFarland and company this fall. Michigan will also add three returning All-Americans from last year's squad and All-American transfer Kevin Beazley from Old Dominion.
Expectations are high in Ann Arbor, as with an arsenal that stocked, the Wolverines are expected to blow past last year's team-point total of 47.5.
Redshirt freshman All-American Logan Massa leads Michigan in 2017 returning points. Logan masticated the competition last year, feasting on high-profile 165-pounders and losing only three times, all of which were to NCAA champions.
Stevan Micic, Myles Amine, and the aforementioned transfer Beazley all return with All-American credentials, as do two of the former starters who spent last year on redshirt.
Senior Adam Coon brings a second- and third-place NCAA finish with him to wrestle heavyweight one final time. Rising redshirt junior Alec Pantaleo placed sixth as a sophomore at 149 and will wrestle either 149 or 157. Senior Domenic Abounader has yet to make the podium but won matches at three NCAA tournaments. The Wolverines senior will be favored to finally break through and place in the top eight at 184 pounds next year.
As with most stacked teams, Michigan will have the enviable problem of too many quality wrestlers and not enough weight classes to go around. Davonte Mahomes is an All-American-caliber 174-pounder snake bitten by injuries and, even if now healthy, will have a difficult time making the starting lineup next season.
It is a good problem for the Wolverines to have, as the maize and blue have sky-high hopes. Even if a national championship is out of reach, anything less than a top four team trophy will carry with it at least some level of disappointment.
Hoping to avoid disappointment next year and avenge his losses to national champions Isaiah Martinez and Vincenzo Joseph is Logan Massa. You can watch Massa dispatch Wisconsin's Isaac Jordan in St. Louis for third place at the 2017 NCAAs.
We'll take a closer at the No. 3 team next, so stay tuned. Until then, stay comfortable but not necessarily numb, as we you can expect to see plenty more NCAA content coming through in waves.