The Toughest Schedule in the Nation
Strength of Schedule
It would be easy to look at the Mountaineers’ team record this season and say it wasn’t good, as WVU won just two of its 15 scheduled dual meets.
However, when one delves deeper into the slate that they faced, the Mountaineers tackled what is undoubtedly their toughest schedule in team history, and what is by far and away, the toughest schedule in the NCAA this season.
The Takedown Wrestling Media Dual Impact Index, which is an advanced metric that can be used to determine individual wrestler rankings and team rankings based on multiple factors, has WVU as the team with the second hardest schedule this season – in first place, Minnesota.
However, let’s take a closer look at the Golden Gophers’ schedule.
Minnesota: 156-108 (.591 win percentage, 19 duals wrestled)
Without a doubt, Minnesota wrestled one of the tougher schedules in the country, but it was aided by the fact that it participated in the National Duals – just like Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Until the final two polls of the season, or the time in which the National Duals were being wrestled, the Golden Gophers were not atop the poll.
In fact, it was the Mountaineers who found themselves atop the poll. Out of the 10 polls released, WVU was at the top of 10 times, with its strength of schedule ranking dipping no lower than seventh all season. Out of the 10 instances, the Mountaineers averaged a SOS rank of 2.4, while Minnesota averaged a SOS rank of 9.6.
Week by Week Rankings for WVU: 1, 7, 4, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 5, 2
Week by Week Rankings for Minnesota: 41, 10, 16, 11, 3, 5, 4, 4, 1, 1
Of the Mountaineers’ 12 different opponents, nine finished the season ranked in the top 35 of the Impact Index Poll.
No. 1: Oklahoma State (competed against twice)
No. 2: Penn State
No. 12: Iowa State (competed against twice)
No. 16: Rutgers
No. 22: Pitt
No. 23: Edinboro
No. 26: Maryland
No. 30: Oklahoma (competed against twice)
No. 35: Ohio
Furthermore, WVU’s opponents have a combined record of 126-72 – a winning percentage of .636. This, in and of itself, is very good, but when you remove Division III opponent Johns Hopkins, along with former EWL foes Clarion and Lock Haven, the opponent win percentage jumps to .697, with an overall mark of 106-46.
For comparison’s sake let’s take a look at how the other Big 12 Conference wrestling schools stacked up against the Mountaineers.
Oklahoma State: 162-103-2 (.610 win percentage, 21 duals wrestled)
Oklahoma: 149-94 (.613 win percentage, 17 duals wrestled)
Iowa State: 129-104-1 (.553 win percentage, 16 duals wrestled)
From a win percentage standpoint, WVU certainly appears to have one of, if not the toughest schedule in country.
The Cowboys and the Sooners competed in the NWCA National Duals, while also taking on highly regarded non-conference foes, such as Cornell, Northern Iowa, Virginia Tech and Missouri to name a few.
While the Cyclones did not compete in the National Duals, their schedule was chock full of tough non-conference opponents, Iowa, Rutgers and Northern Iowa are a few of these.
As you can see, these statistics look to support the idea that the Mountaineers had the toughest schedule in the country - it is tough to argue with that data.
Throw in the perennially tough Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational, Reno Tournament of Champions and the Big 12 Championships, and you can see why WVU truly wrestled the nation’s toughest dual meet schedule and overall schedule in the country.
On the eve of Wednesday’s NCAA Wrestling Championships selection show, let’s take a look at how the resumes of the Mountaineers’ at-large bid candidates stack up.
- Shane Young (125)
Young has defeated Stanford's Evan Silver (3-2), Oklahoma's Kyle Garcia (5-4), Rutgers' Joseph Langel (4-3), Ohio's Kevon Powell (11-5), Oklahoma's Kyle Garcia (7-3), Lock Haven's Bobby Rehm (13-8). Each of these opponents has either earned automatic qualification or was ranked in the Feb. 28 coaches’ poll.
His only losses this season came against California State-Bakersfield’s Tyler Iwamura (4-2), Oklahoma State's Eddie Klimara (3-2), Iowa State's Ryak Finch (1-0, 2-1). Each of these individuals has already earned an automatic qualifier spot in the NCAA Championships.
Young was ranked No. 29 in the latest coaches’ poll that came out on Feb. 28. He is also ranked No. 20 in the Takedown Wrestling Media Dual Impact Index.
- Nathan Pennesi (141)
Pennesi has defeated Northern Iowa's Joey Lazor (9-6), Lock Haven's Daniel Neff (4-0), Oklahoma State's Julian Feikert (6-0), Rutgers' Trevor Melde (6-3), Iowa State's Luke Goettl (5-1). Each of these opponents has either earned automatic qualification or were ranked in the Feb. 28 coaches’ poll.
His only losses this season have come against North Carolina's Evan Henderson (6-1), Penn State's Bryan Pearsall (2-0), Ohio State's Hunter Stieber (10-4), Harvard's Steve Keith (8-6), Tyler Graff (7-5, currently wrestling at 133), The Citadel's Ugi Khishgnyam (8-4), Oklahoma's Kendric Maple (10-2). Each of these individuals has already earned an automatic qualifier spot in the NCAA Championships.
According to the Takedown Wrestling Media Dual Impact Index, Pennesi has the No. 1 SOS and is ranked No. 19 overall.
In the most recent coaches’ poll, Pennesi is ranked No. 13 and has an RPI of No. 11.
- Bubba Scheffel (174)
Scheffel has defeated Boise State's Scotty Bacon (5-3) and Pitt's Nick Bonaccorsi (3-1). Bonaccorsi was the Eastern Wrestling League Champion, while Bacon sits at No. 27 coaches’ poll.
One astounding statistic when looking at Scheffel’s body of work this year has been that his only losses this season have come against opponents ranked inside the top 20 of the most recent coaches’ poll: Maryland's John Asper (5-3), Rutgers' Greg Zannetti (2-1), Iowa State's Tanner Weatherman (8-4, 3-1), Ohio's Cody Walters (2-1), Oklahoma State's Chris Perry (8-2, 12-5).
According to the Takedown Wrestling Media Dual Impact Index, Scheffel is ranked No. 21 and has strength of schedule of No. 18.
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