Division I’s dominant conference sets a new bar as Big Ten has 12 ranked in Top 25

Manheim, Pennsylvania – Realignment in college sports has caused some interesting anomalies when it comes to conference names. Two of the most obvious examples are the Big Ten Conference, with 14 all-sports members and the Big 12, which has 10. Wrestling alignments have expanded and contracted conference sponsorship with the abundance of affiliate members as well.

For the first time in college wrestling history, the Big Ten Conference also has 12 of its 14 teams ranked as Illinois and Michigan State entered this week’s NWCA Division I Wrestling Coaches Poll released on Tuesday.

Previously, the conference had 11 teams ranked on 17 different occasions, all since 2014 with the first occurrence happening on December 16, 2014. Not surprisingly, the Big Ten also five teams ranked in the top seven, including No. 1 Iowa (0-0), No. 2 Penn State (0-0), and No. 3 Michigan (2-0).

Here’s how the Big Ten schools populate almost half of the Top 25: No. 6 Nebraska, No. 7 Ohio State, No. 14 Minnesota, No. 15 Rutgers, No. 16 Purdue, No. 21 Wisconsin, No. 22 Northwestern, No. 24 Illinois, No. 25 Michigan State.

More ranked teams hit the mat this past week as 17 of the Top 25 were in action. Michigan opened up with road wins at Rutgers (26-10) and Maryland (38-3). No. 4 NC State improved to 2-0 besting Appalachian State 24-12. Nebraska opened up its Big Ten schedule beating visiting Minnesota 22-14. Oklahoma State picked up home wins over Chattanooga (32-9) and Oregon State (29-8), while Virginia Tech swept a quad, beating Kent State 32-9, Ohio 39-3, and the host Mountaineers 24-10. Missouri (5-0) hosted a tri-meet and topped then-No. 21 Central Michigan 30-6 and Wyoming 29-3. Wyoming also beat CMU in Columbia.

Other ranked teams picking up wins were Arizona State over Oklahoma (20-12), Pittsburgh over Lehigh (24-9), North Carolina over Gardner-Webb (44-0) and Northern Iowa with a pair of wins over South Dakota State (28-13) and North Dakota State (27-11). Northern Colorado, which appeared in the rankings last week for the first time since prior to the Apollo 11 moon landing, went 2-0, beating California Baptist 35-3 and host Utah Valley 19-16.

Methodology: The NWCA Division I Wrestling Coaches Poll is voted on by two coaches from each Division I wrestling conference. Each first-place vote is worth 25 points, 24 points for a second-place vote, 23 for a third-place vote, and so on through to one point for a 25th-place vote. The poll is based on dual meet results. Teams who are not competing this season are not included in the voting process.

NWCA Division I Wrestling Coaches Poll
January 12, 2021

RankTeam (First)RecordPointsConf.Previous
1Iowa (14)(0-0)350Big Ten1
2Penn State(0-0)329Big Ten2
3Michigan(2-0)323Big Ten3
4NC State(2-0)302ACC4
5Oklahoma State(2-0)287Big 126
6Nebraska(1-0)286Big Ten5
7Ohio State(0-0)258Big Ten7
8Virginia Tech(4-0)252ACC8
10Iowa State(3-0)217Big 1210
11Arizona State(2-0)201Pac-1211
13North Carolina(1-0)178ACC14
14Minnesota(0-1)168Big Ten12
15Rutgers(0-1)124Big Ten15
16Purdue(0-0)123Big Ten16
19Oklahoma(0-1)89Big 1219
20Northern Iowa(2-0)88Big 1223
21Wisconsin(0-0)77Big Ten20
22Northwestern(0-0)61Big Ten22
23Northern Colorado(3-0)46Big 1225
24Illinois(1-0)35Big TenNR
25Michigan State(0-0)31Big TenNR

Others Receiving Votes: Army West Point 27, Central Michigan 19, Virginia 19, Appalachian State 11, Wyoming 10, Hofstra 4, Campbell 2
Dropped Out: #21 Central Michigan (1-2), #24 Army West Point (0-0)

2020-21 Poll Dates: January 19, January 26, February 2, February 9, February 16, February 23.