March 12, 2014
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The NCAA released the brackets and announced at-large selections on Wednesday for the 2014 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships in Oklahoma City, Okla., on March 20-22.
Senior heavyweight Mike McClure and junior 184-pounder John Rizqallah automatically qualified for the NCAA Championships based on their performances at the Big Ten Championships last weekend at Madison, Wis.
McClure (27-7) earned the No. 7 seed in the heavyweight bracket and will face Pittsburgh's Patrick Tasser (17-9) in the first round. Rizqallah (20-10), the No. 14 seed at 184 pounds, will take on the winner between Lock Haven's Fred Garcia (24-7) and Indiana's Luke Sheridan (27-14) in the first round.
The NCAA announced the qualifier allocations for the 2014 NCAA Championships on Feb. 27. Each qualifying tournament was awarded spots per weight class based on current year data. Each wrestler was measured on the following: Division I winning percentage; rating percentage index (RPI); and coaches ranking. For each wrestler that reached the threshold in at least two of the three categories, his qualifying tournament was awarded a qualifying spot in that weight class.
Each qualifying tournament, with automatic qualifying status, was awarded a minimum of one wrestler per weight class, which went to the tournament champion, even if they did not have any wrestlers reach at least two of the three thresholds. NCAA tournament spots for each qualifying event were awarded at the tournament based solely on place-finish.
This year, the following allocation numbers per weight class for the Big Ten were: 125 (7), 133 (8), 141 (6), 149 (6), 157 (8), 165 (8), 174 (7), 184 (7), 197 (8), and heavyweight (9).
The NCAA Division I Wrestling Committee announced the remaining 40 at-large qualifiers on Wednesday. All 10 weight classes consist of 33 wrestlers. The at-large selections were made based on the following criteria: head-to-head competition; qualifying event placement; quality wins; results against common opponents; winning percentage; RPI; coaches ranking and the number of matches contested at that weight class.
Michigan State head coach Tom Minkel is a member of the NCAA Division I Wrestling Committee.
McClure is wrestling in his second straight NCAA Championships after placing a career-best fourth at the Big Ten Championships. The Holland, Mich., native is looking to earn All-America honors for the first-time in his career following a 2-2 showing at nationals last season.
McClure, who owns a career record of 99-29, ranks tied for 18th in MSU history in wins. He also ranks ninth in the school record book with 24 falls.
Ranked seventh by InterMat, McClure has collected a 27-7 overall record this season, including a 14-4 mark in dual meets (5-3 Big Ten). He's also the team leader with 10 falls and is 5-6 against ranked opponents. He went 4-2 to take fourth at the Big Ten Championships, including victories over No. 8 Connor Medbery of Wisconsin and No. 12 Jon Gingrich of Penn State.
McClure went 9-1 in open tournaments and claimed first place at both the Northern Iowa Open in Cedar Falls, Iowa, on Dec. 14 and the Cradle Gear Invitational in Lock Haven, Pa., on Dec. 29.
Rizqallah is also appearing in the NCAA Championships for the second year in a row. He punched his ticket to Oklahoma City with a 4-2 decision over Indiana's Luke Sheridan in the seventh-place match at the Big Ten Championships; the top-seven placers in the 184-pound weight class in the Big Ten earned an automatic bid to nationals. Rizqallah went 2-2 at the conference meet, including an upset victory in overtime against fourth-seeded and 13th-ranked TJ Dudley of Nebraska.
The Allegan, Mich., ranked second on the team with 11 dual wins and has produced a 20-10 overall record this season. He entered the national rankings in January after going 4-0 and taking first place at the Cradle Gear Invitational on Dec. 29 in Lock Haven, Pa.
Rizqallah, who went 0-2 at the NCAA Championships last season, owns a 55-29 career record.
NCAA WRESTLING CHAMPIONSHIPS COVERAGE
ESPN will expand its TV and digital coverage of the 2014 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships on March 20-22 by televising all six sessions and carrying every match on ESPN3, both for the first time. ESPN will televise the semifinals and championship finals while ESPNU will air the preliminary sessions and medal round. The entire tournament will be available on WatchESPN.
The tournament from Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Okla., will begin Thursday, March 20, with the first and second sessions - never before televised - on ESPNU. ESPN3's individual mat feeds will allow fans to watch every match, including the wrestle-back bracket, accompanied by live commentary throughout the tournament. Additionally, for computer users, ESPN3 will once again offer multi-mat simultaneous viewing which allows fans to watch up to four different mats at one time.
The 2013 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships finals were the most-viewed since 2004, the first year ESPN televised the finals live. Overall, ESPN and ESPNU's 2013 Wrestling Championships coverage reached 5.4 million viewers in the course of two days. Digitally, ESPN3 and WatchESPN combined to generate 12.68 million live minutes viewed throughout three days of coverage, up 13% from 2012.