March 6, 2014
Meet Notes | Tournament Central | Live Results | Live Streaming
DeKALB, Ill. - With the regular season behind them, the Northern Illinois University wrestling team starts postseason action this weekend at the 2014 Mid-American Conference Championships.
The tournament starts Saturday, March 8, at 11 a.m. CT inside Kent State's M.A.C. Center and concludes with placing matches Sunday, March 9.
"(The MAC is) arguably the second-toughest and deepest conference in the country with nine teams with the addition of Missouri, Northern Iowa and Old Dominion - all nationally-ranked teams with several nationally-ranked individuals," said NIU head coach Ryan Ludwig. "Without question, our tournament has become more tough and more deep and we're excited for that."
The Huskies wrapped up the regular season Feb. 23 with a 20-14 win at Buffalo. After falling into an early deficit, NIU rallied with wins in six of the final seven bouts. Key to that comeback was redshirt junior Sam Bennett, whose technical fall win at 165 pounds forged an 11-11 tie.
NIU enters this weekend looking for their 42nd MAC individual champion and first since 2011, when Brad Dieckhaus took top honors at 184 pounds. In addition, the Huskies will look to secure one of the MAC's 41 automatic bids into the 2014 NCAA Championships. If they can secure at least one auto bid, the program will extend their streak of consecutive NCAA tournament appearances to 43 years.
Live results will be available on TrackWrestling.com, while FloWrestling.org will provide live streaming for the entire tournament (subscription required).
Projected NIU Lineup
125: Nick Harrison
133: Nick Smith
141: Tyler Argue
149: Rob Jillard
157: Andrew Morse
165: Shaun'Qae McMurtry
174: Matt Mougin
184: Caleb Busson
197: Shawn Scott
285: Jared Torrence
Scouting the Field
With the addition of Old Dominion to the tournament field this year, the MAC Championships will boast nine teams - the most the conference has had in wrestling since 10 teams competed on the mats in 1982. The addition of affiliate members ODU, Missouri and Northern Iowa is also expected to add some extra fire to the meet, as six teams are either ranked or receiving votes in the NWCA/USA Today Coaches Poll. MU easily captured last year's tournament title, but will be challenged this year by UNI, Central Michigan and Ohio, among others for the crown in 2014.
NIU at the MAC Championships
The Huskies return to the MAC Championships this season looking to improve on last season's fifth place finish and 63.5 points, which tied them with Ohio in the final team standings. The Huskies will also be looking to register their 42nd MAC individual champion, with the last one coming in 2011 with Brad Dieckhaus at 184 pounds. As a team, the last and only MAC championship for NIU came in 1985, when the Huskies dominated the field with 89 points, topping second-place Miami (Ohio) by 40.
Morse, Scott Ranked In NCAA Coaches Poll
Sophomore Andrew Morse and redshirt freshman Shawn Scott have had superb seasons to date and the nation's coaches have taken notice, as both were ranked in the final edition of the NCAA Coaches Pall Rankings. Scott sits in the 29th spot at 197 pounds, while Morse is 32nd at 157 pounds. Heading into the MAC Championships, Morse boasts a 21-14 record and Scott maintains a 19-11 mark on the mat.
Let the Bidding Commence
On Feb. 27, the NCAA announced that the Mid-American Conference would receive 41 automatic bids to the 2014 national tournament, which ranks third behind the Big Ten and EIWA for the most auto bids among Division I's nine conferences. By comparison, the MAC scored 30 auto bids last year. The conference sports five bids each at 133, 141, 157, 174 and 184 pounds, along with four each at 125 and 149, three at 165 and 285 and two at 197.
Pending the results of this weekend, the Huskies will cap their 2013-14 season March 20-22 at the 2014 NCAA Championships in Oklahoma City, Okla.