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Shell Shocker! UMD Wrestling only qualifies 3 for NCAA Tournament

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Maryland will only be sending three wrestlers to St. Louis after the Terps did not receive any at-large bids.

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Last Word on Big Tens

Maryland head coach Kerry McCoy said that his guys wrestled the best they had all year and fought incredibly hard. This is true in a sense. They were in a bunch of close matches. Polacek was in a close one. Dorsay lost on a late counter-takedown to a kid that ended up taking third. Mascola lost in overtime after blowing a lead. Gardner was in a close match. Brown's match was close. Snook's match was close. Myers' match was close. We get that there were a lot of close matches but at the end of the day and especially during this time of the year, it doesn't matter if you win by two points or by twelve. All that matters is whether you win or not. Maryland did not get it done and it is as simple as that. To think for a moment that this team could have been a top seven or eight finisher at the Big Tens is laughable.

Every team in the top nine in the standings had at least one finalist. The only team that didn't have a champion out of that group was Iowa, who shared the title with Ohio State. Northwestern had two Big Ten champions and only took ninth. And you expect me to believe that Maryland could have finished above them?

To say that Maryland's performance at the Big Tens was terrible is like saying that Jackson Pollock's art is abstract. You know that it is but it's so much deeper than that. I took the liberty of looking to see just how bad Maryland's performance was historically.

Wisconsin had a terrible team in 2009 and finished with 9.0 points. Northwestern was even worse in 2001, only scoring 6.0 points. So Maryland doesn't have the distinction of being the worst, that much is clear. However, what I now know and can't un-know is that Maryland's performance at the Big Tens was the third-worst score at the Big Tens in the last 30 years. Now you know it too.

The Aftermath

I'm going to throw a hip-hop reference in the mix. Dr. Dre released 'The Aftermath' as his first new album after leaving Death Row Records and starting his own label (Aftermath Entertainment). It was okay. It didn't blow any one away and was actually hugely disappointing commercially. Hugely disappointing.

Speaking of hugely disappointing, Maryland wrestling's hugely disappointing (How's that for a segue?) season continued on Wednesday afternoon as they learned that Shyheim Brown and Josh Snook would not be receiving at-large bids to wrestle in the NCAA Championships.

After the official brackets were announced today, McCoy told me, "It's disappointing that we didn't get any at-large bids. I am excited about the three guys we have going."

But wait, it gets worse!

The Draw

For anyone who has seen the TV show 'Justified' or is a big fan of Gary Cooper and 'High Noon' like I am, you know that the draw is one of the most important things when going into an old-school Western dual (wrestling puns!).

Maryland's draws in this tournament flat-out stink. Here's a quick breakdown of who the Terps will face in their first matches of the tournament.

133

Geoffrey Alexander finished in the top 12 at 133 (finishing 12th) and faces eighth-seeded Kevin Devoy of Drexel in the first round. Devoy is ranked 11th in the country at 133 by Intermat and has some great wins this season. He is 36-5 and has wins over Mason Beckman (he went 1-1 against him), Mark Grey, Nick Soto, Scott Delvecchio, Dom Malone (twice), Mackenzie McGuire (twice), Troy Heilmann and Mitch Finesilver. So in essence, he has beaten a bevy of wrestlers in this weight class. To top it all off, he won the EIWA title at 133 pounds.

Alexander gets him first and then if he gets past Devoy, he will almost definitely get the pleasure of wrestling two-time All-American and human crusher A.J. Schopp of Edinboro. The road does not look good for Alexander. He will have to work hard through the wrestle-backs because even if he beats Devoy, I think Schopp beats him.

157

Lou Mascola, Maryland's most pleasant surprise this season, took 8th at Big Tens at 157 and was rewarded with a pig-tail match. The pig-tail match is a sort of play-in match to fill out the 32nd spot in the bracket. Who will Mascola wrestle in the pig-tail? Why, none other than Immanuel Kerr-Brown of Duke! Kerr-Brown has wrestled very well against Maryland throughout his Duke career and he beat Mascola by a 7-3 decision at the Grapple at the Garden earlier this season.

Mascola is a very different wrestler now than he was in that match. I expect him to win if he comes out and wrestles like he did during the second half of the season after the Midlands. If he gets past Kerr-Brown (a fellow Georgian!), then he will have to take on fifth-seeded Cody Pack of South Dakota State. Pack is ranked 7th nationally by Intermat and is 34-4 on the season. His losses have come against the 1st, 3rd, 7th and 9th seeds in the field. That's it.

Pack made the Midlands Finals so we know he's a stud. I won't count Mascola out but I think Pack wins if the two wrestle.

Heavyweight

Spencer Myers took 7th at heavyweight at Big Tens and his first round match-up is....

Third-seeded Bobby Telford of Iowa! You're probably saying, "Wait, Noah, is this the same Bobby Telford that beat Myers 4-0 in College Park, took second at the most recent Big Ten Championships and is a two-time All-American?" The very same!

Telford is beatable. However, Spencer Myers will have to have an aggressive mindset and wrestle that way for the entirety of the match. If he is passive, Telford will probably beat him. I expect this match to be close. If Myers shoots early and (somewhat) often, I like his chances to upset Telford and send the St. Louis crowd into a frenzy. If not, he will lose a close, milquetoast match to a super-tough opponent as he has done many times in the past.

Bottom Line

When I asked McCoy about the draws, he responded by saying, "The matches are going to be tough but our guys will be ready." McCoy said that his confidence was still high. "I know they are ready. They just have to go out and perform."

It sounds an awful lot like what he said before Big Tens. At least he is taking the three guys who accounted for four of his team's six wins at Big Tens.

Josh Snook almost certainly wasn't getting an at-large bid because he didn't have the win percentage or a top-33 spot in the Coaches poll. He did rank in the top 33 in RPI but that only satisfies one out of the three criteria. Brown is much more disappointing because he had the Coaches Poll and RPI but didn't have the win percentage. Normally two out of the three will get you in. Brown finished the season with a 17-13 record due to his poor 0-2 performance at the Big Tens. What is more telling and one of the big factors that the committee probably looked at was his performance against Division I opponents. Brown went 11-12 against Division I wrestlers this season. That's nowhere near good enough.

McCoy and this program could really use an All-American performance. They have a chance to do that but after looking at this bracket, that chance looks mighty small. This has been a thoroughly disappointing (and at times, excruciating) season for Maryland fans. At this point, I think Terp wrestling fans are just waiting for the next episode.