Penn State moved to No. 1 in the USA Today/NWCA coaches poll released today. The big surprise is where the coaches ranked Sunday’s opponent.
Despite an upset-filled week in college wrestling, three-defending NCAA champion remained at No. 8. The Nittany Lions (13-0) and Hawkeyes (9-0-1) are the nation’s lone undefeated teams.
Cornell, which lost to Lehigh 17-15, dropped to No. 2. Wisconsin, Minnesota, Oklahoma State, Virginia Tech and Missouri are also ranked ahead of the Hawkeyes.
One possible explanation for Iowa’s low ranking could be coach Tom Brands’ decision to bypass this month’s NWCA National Duals in Cedar Falls. Penn State is the lone team in the top seven that didn’t participate in the national duals.
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Rutgers, which is 18-1, is ranked No. 9, three spots behind Virginia Tech. The Scarlet Knights defeated Virginia Tech, which reached the finals of the national duals, last weekend and suffered their only loss to Penn State in November. Boise State is ranked 10th.
Most coaches will tell you rankings don’t mean anything. They are partially right. Everything will get sorted out at the NCAA tournament.
But when you’re trying to sell the sport to fans, administrators and media outlets, rankings matter. Let’s just say this week isn’t the coaches’ best performance.
Here’s how one reporter would rank the top:
1. Penn State2. Cornell3. Iowa4. Minnesota 5. Wisconsin (Injuries prevent the Badgers from being ranked higher)6. Oklahoma State 7. Rutgers 8. Boise State9. Oklahoma 10. Lehigh