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Badgers Wrestling(GP): First NCAA Coaches Rankings

The Badgers’ wrestlers have their first rankings of the season.

NCAA Wrestling: Big Ten Championship Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Disclaimer: This article has been written and submitted by NavyBadger, who will help cover Badgers wrestling.

Hello, everyone. I heed of (hedded? hed? heeded of?) Rohan’s call to action and will start putting out articles on wrestling. As pointed out elsewhere, if this doesn’t interest you, use the Sections tab to see only the sports you care about.

Key:

1. GP (general public) These will be easy-to-digest articles for the casual fan.

2. TMI (too much information) As a Badger half-in-half-out-sider, I’ll provide more in-depth coverage for the rabid wrestling follower and the take-a-dip-in-the-deep-end learners (don’t worry, you won’t drown).

Now onto the topic at hand: This season’s initial NCAA Coaches Rankings for each weight class came out Monday. There were a few pleasant surprises for the Wisconsin Badgers.

There are 14 coaches who vote in each weight class and two head coaches from each of the seven major conferences. The ranks go to No. 33 in each weight class.

Per UW’s communications team: Game recognizes game as Nico Rivera makes his first national ranking.

In addition to Rivera ranking at No. 32 in the 133-pound weight class, the standard studs are all there, too:

125 Eric Barnett: No. 5

149 Joey Zargo: No. 12

165 Dean Hamiti: No. 5

174 Max Maylor: No. 8

184 Shane Liegel: No. 15

To help with good/bad context, the top eight place winners in each weight class at the season-ending NCAA tournament are designated All-Americans.

Rivera, Zargo, Maylor, and Liegel are all at personal-best rankings in this initial poll, indicating the coaches like the Badgers more than some of the other polls.

According to NCAA.com, “The coaches’ ranking is one of several criteria that will be evaluated by the ... Committee during the at-large selection and seeding process along with head-to-head competition, quality wins, Ratings Percentage Index (RPI), conference tournament placement, results versus common opponents and win percentage.”

Translation: if you don’t get an auto-bid to the NCAA tournament via your placement in the B1G tournament, you can still get an at-large bid; being ranked in the top 33 in the final Coaches ranking will help get you that at-large bid.

Note that the votes were tabulated before this past weekend’s action (which was crazy with upsets in some weights). Also, there are many good wrestlers who don’t have enough qualifying matches yet (dodging competition - aka load management - is a discussion for another day), so several more people will slot in at the different weight classes as the season goes on, pushing everyone below them down the rankings.

The 2024 NCAA Wrestling Championships will be in Kansas City on March 21-23. If these were the final rankings, right after the B1G tournament, we’d likely see Badger wrestlers representing Wisconsin at the Big Dance in six of the ten weight classes.