2022 NCAA Championships Watch Party

Cael Sanderson Criticizes NCAA Seeding Process

Cael Sanderson Criticizes NCAA Seeding Process

Sanderson, who isn't one to publicly critique things regularly, made his opinion on the NCAA seeding process known during a weekly press conference.

Mar 14, 2022 by JD Rader

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Every year many athletes, coaches, fans, and media members of Div I wrestlers share their concerns about how the NCAA Championships are qualified for and seeded. This year Penn State head coach Cael Sanderson echoed those confusions and potential frustrations in his weekly press conference. Sanderson isn't known to be one to give out opinions such as this regularly, making it prominent news.

When asked about this year's seeding results, Sanderson gave the following quote.

“It was consistently inconsistent like it has been in the past years. It is what it is at this point. It's something that should probably be addressed. We have a flawed system that obviously lacks judgment, wisdom, and consistency.”

All 33 wrestlers per weight at the NCAA tournament are seeded with a formula using the following criteria:

  1. Head-to-head competition — 25 percent
  2. Quality wins — 20 percent
  3. Coaches Ranking — 15 percent
  4. Results against common opponents — 10 percent
  5. RPI — 10 percent
  6. Qualifying event placement — 10 percent
  7. Win % — 10 percent

You can read more about how those are calculated HERE.

Sanderson opted not to give any specific suggestions on how the NCAA should fix the seeding process, but eluded to having a committee of knowledgeable wrestling people give their input.

“It’s not consistent. It doesn’t have a setup to where you’re using the judgement and wisdom of people who follow the sport on a consistent daily basis.”

“Everybody wants people to be treated right. It’s all about the student-athlete. Take care and do right by the student-athlete whatever team you’re on. You should get what you earn kind of thing, and that’s what the system needs to be.”

Many Penn State fans are unhappy with how NCAA qualifier Brady Berge was seeded. Despite taking third place at Big Tens with two wins over Iowa's Kaleb Young, who ended up with the #9 seed, Berge was given the #16 seed. This is partially because Berge only wrestled 11 matches this season, four of which came at 165 lbs. According to the rules, a wrestler "must have 15-Division I Matches at the designated weight class on the NCAA Division I Starters page to have a calculated RPI."

Sanderson On Brady Berge's Seed

“I didn’t know what to expect with him. Regardless, you have to beat good guys and if you want to win the nationals, you have to beat everybody. I think probably anybody would have figured he would have been seeded higher. All the other top-three place winners in the Big Ten I think were top-ten. That just comes back to the system. It is what it is at this point. Brady has wrestled better and better every match. He’s looked great, and he’s ready to roll.”

Sanderson On Drew Hildebrandt's Seed

“His was a surprise also with a huge drop. Lost to two top-10 guys. If you don’t take care of business you leave it up to someone else. You leave it up to a committee and system, and you just don’t know what you’re going to get. Drew is fine. He just has to go and be himself."

Sanderson On Creighton Edsell Not Receiving An At-Large Bid

“I think it was close. I think he was probably the next guy getting in, and it probably could have gone his way. Again, if you leave it in someone else’s hands, that’s the kind of thing that can happen, unfortunately. I think he was a great candidate for that wild card, but there were also some other great candidates. Nothing you can do about it now.”

Penn State will go into the NCAA tournament with the following team and their respective seeds. 

125: Drew Hildebrandt, 16

133: Roman Bravo-Young, 1

141: Nick Lee, 1

149: Beau Bartlett, 13

157: Brady Berge, 16

174: Carter Starocci, 1

184: Aaron Brooks, 2

197: Max Dean, 1

285: Greg Kerkvliet, 4

You can watch the full press conference, which includes Nick Lee and Max Dean in addition to Sanderson, below.