2020 NCAA Wrestling Championships

Northwestern Is Surging. Can They Win A Team Trophy At NCAA's?

Northwestern Is Surging. Can They Win A Team Trophy At NCAA's?

Northwestern is up to #4 in the national rankings. Can they win an NCAA team trophy in Minneapolis?

Mar 11, 2020 by David Bray
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Northwestern is rounding into form at the right time and now has two #1 ranked wrestlers heading into NCAA's. They are currently ranked #4 in the country, and a top 4 trophy at the NCAA Championships is within range. Can they get it done in Minneapolis?

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Northwestern is rounding into form at the right time and now has two #1 ranked wrestlers heading into NCAA's. They are currently ranked #4 in the country, and a top 4 trophy at the NCAA Championships is within range. Can they get it done in Minneapolis?

NCAA Landscape

Before diving into Northwestern's shot at a trophy, let's establish a bit of context about this year's field. This season, nine teams (including Northwestern) have been ranked in the top four, and even more have been just outside.

Every week, each ranked wrestler is assigned the placement and advancement points they would earn if their finish at NCAA's corresponded to their ranking. These do not include bonus points. Team rankings are based on the sum of each team's projected individual points. 

Here is the high, low, and average projected score (before bonus points) from each week's rankings for the teams ranked #1-#4 this season:


HighLowAverage
1st Place Team144.5108129.24
2nd Place Team105.572.590.32
3rd Place Team70.54958.12
4th Place Team6047.553.56

The number that I'm most concerned about for the purposes of this article series is the average of the #4-ranked team this year. It is logical to assume that teams will need to score more than 53.56 before bonus to be in trophy contention.

Northwestern's Season

The Wildcats started the season with two big projected point scorers in All-Americans Sebastian Rivera and Ryan Deakin. The rest of their lineup had potential, but wasn't projected to boost Northwestern's point total much.

The graph below illustrate's how Northwestern's individuals have contributed toward their upward trajectory. They've grown both in terms of the points that Deakin and Rivera are projected to score and also in terms of the number of individuals who have been projected to score significant points. 

It's worth noting that Northwestern surged in projected points after the Big Ten Championships and is currently ranked #4 in the country, its highest ranking of the season.

In addition to looking at their week-to-week collective team projection, it's valuable to see the highest and lowest points that each weight class has been projected to score this year. This table contains the high and low point projections for each of Northwestern's weight classes.


HighLow
125-DeAugustino6.500
133-Rivera20.0013.5
141-McKenna0.000
149-Thomas5.500.5
157-Deakin20.0013.5
165-Oster1.500
174-Yang/Morland0.500
184-Jessen0.000
197-Davison6.500
285-Heyob0.000

60.5027.50

The sum of Northwestern's highest individual point projections is 60.5, well above the magic number of 53.56. The sum of their individual lowest projected points is 27.5, a number they haven't seen since before the turn of the new year.

Northwestern's Path to a Trophy

The Wildcats will only have 6 point scorers at NCAA's, so they'll need to get the most out of all of them. They currently have two #1 ranked wrestlers in Sebastian Rivera and Ryan Deakin. They will provide the bulk of the points for Northwestern.

Ryan Deakin has looked like the best 157-pounder in the country all year. He's undefeated and will surely be the #1 seed at NCAA's. His biggest challenger is Hayden Hidlay, a man he has wrestled a number of times. In their most recent meeting, Deakin controlled Hidlay in the CKLV finals.

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Sebastian Rivera is the Wildcats' second #1 ranked wrestler, and he just moved into that #1 spot this week after winning the Big Ten Championships. Rivera is certainly capable of winning an NCAA title, having wins over NCAA Champions Seth Gross and Spencer Lee in his career, but 133 is loaded. It will be a challenge for Rivera to win that bracket, but he'll probably need to for Northwestern to bring home a top 4 trophy.

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Northwestern's remaining 4 qualifiers for NCAA's are Michael DeAugustino at 125, Yahya Thomas at 149, Shayne Oster at 165, and Lucas Davison at 197. All but Oster have been ranked to finish on the podium at various points this season, and Oster has been ranked to finish in the round of 12.

In addition to needing titles from Rivera and Deakin, Northwestern will probably need at least two of these four to finish on the podium to have a legitimate shot a trophy.

Right now, their top prospect an All American finish, outside of Deakin and Rivera, seems to be Lucas Davison, who is currently ranked #7 at 197. Davison's best wins this year are over Christian Brunner and Shakur Rasheed.

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Yahya Thomas has been ranked as high as #8 this season and finished 3rd at CKLV with wins over Brock Zacherl and Griffin Parriot. He was also the Team USA Junior World team member at 65kg and is capable of putting it together in Minneapolis.

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Michael DeAugustino also finished 3rd at CKLV, made the Midlands finals, and has been ranked as high as #8 this year. His best win came at midlands against Central Michigan's Drew Hildebrandt. His results since Midlands haven't been consistent, but if he can return to his mid-season form, he could make an impact.

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The final NCAA qualifier for Northwestern is Shayne Oster. He has been ranked to finish in the round of 12 at points this season. An All-American finish from Oster would be unexpected but a welcome result for the Wildcats.


Other Articles in this Series

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