The Division II schedule has been light due to the holiday break, but it certainly picks up with Mat Mayhem in Ft. Wayne, Ind., this Thursday and Friday. All of the big dogs are in the field for the two-day, dual-format tournament bracket. Notre Dame (Ohio) beat St. Cloud State in the championship dual last January. The Falcons and Huskies are once again on opposite sides of the bracket. Both head coaches – Steve Costanzo of SCSU and Frank Romano of NDC – are not thinking about the finals because this is a tournament where “one match at a time” is necessary.
1 – St. Cloud State: The Huskies moved to 2-0 with a 47-0 whitewash of Concordia (Minn.). The reigning champions have outscored two opponents, 83-0. The competition gets much tougher as the new year starts at the NWCA National Duals in Ft. Wayne, Ind. SCSU, the top seed, opens with San Francisco State and will mostly likely have to get through a good Pittsburgh-Johnstown squad in a massive quarterfinal dual. In 2016, Notre Dame College beat SCSU in the finals.
2 – Pittsburgh-Johnstown: UPJ is 6-0 and finished third at the Midwest Classic in Indianapolis two weeks ago. The Mountain Cats open their week in Ft. Wayne against a good McKendree (Ill.) team, then must get through Division II No. 1 St. Cloud State to stay in the winner’s bracket. A year ago, head coach Pat Pecora’s group lost to the Huskies in the semifinals and came back to beat Maryville (Mo.) in the third place dual.
3 – Maryville (Mo.): The Saints, seeded third in Ft. Wayne, open against Newberry (S.C.); it marks MU’s first dual of the season. At this event last January, Notre Dame College beat Maryville in the semifinals. If Mike Denney’s squad can win two duals they could get another shot at the Falcons, seeded second this week.
4 – Notre Dame (Ohio): Thursday marks the first dual of the season for the Falcons, who always pick up steam in January. Last January, NDC rolled through Maryville in the semifinals and St. Cloud State in the finals. If the Falcons put their best lineup on the mat they will be tough to top in Ft. Wayne.
Happy New Years! Let's start 2017 off with a National Duals title! #Falcons— Notre Dame Wrestling (@ndcwrestling4x) January 1, 2017
5 – Nebraska-Kearney: UNK is 4-2 with both losses coming to Division I opponents. The Lopers outscored four opponents at the Augie Duals, 159-26, and like NDC, if they put their best lineup on the mat will be a tough out. Dalton Jensen’s group is seeded fourth and part of a top half of the bracket that is brutal with six of the top eight in this week’s Power Rankings involved. UNK was 14-2 in duals a year ago with both losses coming in the National Duals.
6 – Mercyhurst: The Lakers are 1-0 heading to Ft. Wayne and a first round matchup with Colorado State-Pueblo. NDC should be waiting in the quarterfinals. If the Falcons do not bring their “A” game, head coach Mike Wehler’s Lakers could cause some problems.
7 – Wisconsin-Parkside: The Midwest Classic champions, UW-P enter this week with plenty of momentum. The Rangers open with Upper Iowa in perhaps the best dual of the opening session. The reward will most likely be Nebraska-Kearney in the semifinals. Like Mercyhurst, UW-P has a group worthy of beating anybody in Ft. Wayne.
T8 – Upper Iowa: The Peacocks have not been challenged in three duals this season; that will be put to the test against Wisconsin-Parkside on Thursday in the first round in Ft. Wayne. UIU will have to better than their 10th-place showing at the Midwest Classic.
T8 – McKendree (Ill.): Under the radar perhaps, McKendree will challenge Pittsburgh-Johnstown in the first round. The Bearcats opened the season with a loss to Central Oklahoma and finished a solid eighth at the Midwest Classic.
Knocking on the door – Ashland (Ohio), California Baptist, Tiffin (Ohio), Northern State (N.D.), Indianapolis