Ohio State Wrestling: Championship Math

As my wife might say, let’s get a little math-y.

Ohio State has a stunning 18-1/2 lead heading into day 2 of the 2017 Big Ten Wrestling Championships on the Indiana University campus. They have a gaudy six wrestlers in the finals compared to three for pre/tournament prohibitive favorite Penn State. The Lions have four wrestlers who could also finish as high as third.

Before a brief look at the math, how did this reversal of fortune occur? The biggest shocker was at 141 where Penn State’s two seed, Jimmy Gulibon was pinned twice. The first upset was to seventh seeded Javier Gasca III from Michigan State and the next to thirteenth seed Ryan Diehl of Maryland. Gulibon now wrestles for seventh.

Not nearly as titanic but still a surprise was Ohio State’s upset at 184. Just like last year’s national title bout at 174, Lion Bo Nickal went in a big favorite against Buckeye Myles Martin. Just like last year Martin pulled the upset on the strength of a dramatic throw at the edge of the mat. That match resulted in at least an eight team point swing.

The other big event was Micah Jordan’s mildish yet validating upset of two seed Brandon Sorensen of Iowa at 149.

If those three had gone more the way it seemed on paper, Penn State would be nursing the small lead it took into semifinal action.

Now for the more math-y part. In an eight place NCAA tournament, the placement points are as follows:

First: 16
Second: 12
Third: 10
Fourth: 9
Fifth: 7
Sixth: 6
Seventh: 4
Eighth: 3

Ohio State has six guys in the finals, one (Luke Pletcher at 141) in the consolation semis and two wrestling for seventh. Ohio State’s six finalists can finish no lower than second. Thus, in Ohio State’s 117 current points are the 72 second place points those guys have already earned. Going forward, they have the potential to add four points each by jumping from second to first.

Luke Pletcher can finish no lower than sixth. So Ohio State’s 117 points include six points for sixth. But he can finish as high as third so Luke has the potential to add four more placement points. Plus, by advancing from the consolation semis to the finals he could get an additional one-half advancement point. So by winning two more matches Luke can actually add 4-1/2 points, compared to the four that the finalists can win in one match.

Got it so far? Buckeyes Jose Rodriguez and Cody Burcher can add one point each by going from the eighth place points they have earned so far to seventh.

(But more than points are at stake for Rodriguez and Burcher at 125 and 165 respectively. The NCAA automatic B1G bids for each of those classes are seven. So each needs a win for a ticket to St. Louis in two weeks.)

So adding it up, in placement and advancement points the Buckeyes can earn 30-1/2 more points. Anyone check my math?

As for Penn State, they have three finalists and four more in the consolation semis. When they add in one seventh place hopeful, the Nitany Lions have 31 potential placement and advancement points.

Teams also get bonus points for pins, technical falls and major decisions–bonus points.

What does it all mean? Let’s say half of the Buckeye finalists add twelve team points by winning. That alone would swell the gap between Ohio State and Penn State to 30-1/2 points.

So without regard to bonus points (a big unknown), to catch the Buckeyes, Penn State would have to run the table– everyone would have to finish first, third and seventh.

Ohio State faces Penn State in two finals: 149 where Zain Retherford is heavily favored to beat Micah Jordan and 174 where brother Bo is a one seed going against two seed freshman phenom Mark Hall. The Lions need both wins and Buckeye losses in most other matches.

As former Buckeye and current world freestyle champ Logan Stieber used to say, “people don’t understand how hard it is to win a wrestling match.” With that in mind, the Buckeye lead seems a steep climb for Penn State but the math is there.

Just barely.





  1. […] You can find a complete breakdown of the math here. […]

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