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Between the preseason rankings and last week, Iowa steadily improved their point projection in our while Penn State’s projected total dipped slightly. This week, Penn State pulled Aaron Brooks' redshirt, a move that adds intrigue to the team race and could eventually put Penn State back in the lead.
On top of that, Iowa had losses at 157 and 184 that reduced their projected total. Here are the ways the team race has shifted in the last week:
Aaron Brooks is in the Lineup
On Friday night at Lehigh, Penn State rolled out a lineup that included freshman Aaron Brooks at 184. He earned a 10-5 decision over Chris Weiler on Friday followed by a 19-4 tech fall over Jesse Quatse of Penn on Sunday.
Brooks' success over the weekend isn't surprising, but his presence in the lineup was not widely expected. This move by the Penn State coaching staff changes the landscape of their lineup changes the team race. If Aaron Brooks is as good as many believe him to be, it could have a significant impact on their projected point total at 184.
Brooks enters this week's rankings at #25 because he has yet to face highly ranked competition, but he was a high-profile recruit who many believe to be a threat to climb toward the top of the podium in March.
This move leads to speculation about what this means for Penn State's upper-weights including the question of whether Shakur Rasheed will be out of the lineup or up at 197. Given his All-American finish at 197 in 2018, it seems most likely that Rasheed will be up but not out.
This move will result in an immediate reduction in projected team points for Penn State that is expected to yield a long-term gain in points at both 184 and 197 if Rasheed goes up. Brooks and Rasheed could have one of their first big tests on January 24 at a dual against Nebraska where Brooks could see #4 Taylor Venz and Rasheed could see #10 Eric Schultz.
A Case of the Mondays for Kaleb Young
In a dual against Princeton, Kaleb Young dropped a close match to Princeton's Quincy Monday. This result doesn't necessarily change anyone's perception of how good Kaleb Young is, but it does demonstrate how fickle the rankings can be and how hard it may be to earn points in March.
In the last few weeks, Young has lost matches to David Carr and Quincy Monday, the combined result of which is Young moving from #2 to #9 in the country and a 14-point hit to the Hawkeyes' projected team total.
Rankings are beholden to results, and Young has demonstrated that he can certainly finish on the podium, even very high on the podium, but these results do suggest that big points for Kaleb Young are less certain than they seemed to be a few weeks ago.
Brands Drops First Bout of the Year
In the same Princeton dual on Sunday, Nelson Brands took the first loss of his young varsity career in a wild 7-6 match with previously unranked Travis Stefanik. This loss results in Brands moving from #6 to #11 in the rankings, a seven-point reduction in Iowa's projected team total.
It is unclear whether the Brands loss was just one bad performance or a sign that Hawkeye fans should be concerned, but, like Kaleb Young's loss, it does show how one match can have a drastic shift on a team's point total.