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How The NCAA Wrestling Tournament Works

A useful guide for the casual wrestling fan.



The NCAA Tournament starts on Thursday, so I thought I’d do a writeup covering the basics of how the tournament works for some of the more novice followers of the sport.

A few years ago, OSU released this video with the scoring basics of wrestling.  If you don’t know how the scoring of an individual match works this gives a good breakdown.

The team scoring actually works a little different than what Smith describes in the video. What he describes is the point scoring for duals. I.E. Decision is 3, major decision is 4, Tech fall is 5, and fall is 6.

That is not how bonus points work in a tournament. Here is how that goes.

Bonus Points

Each fall, forfeit, default, disqualification: 2 points
Each tech fall: 1.5 points
Each major decision: 1 point

You also receive advancement points for moving forward in the bracket.

Advancement Points

Each advancement in championship bracket: 1 point
Each advancement in consolation bracket: 0.5 point
Bye followed by win in championship bracket: 1 point
Bye followed by win in consolation bracket: 0.5 point

The final way you score is with placement points. Every All American receives placement points and the higher you finish the more points you score.

Placement Points

1st place: 16 points
2nd place: 12 points
3rd place: 10 points
4th place: 9 points
5th place: 7 points
6th place: 6 points
7th place: 4 points
8th place: 3 points

I’ve broken down how things set up in the individual brackets for the Cowboys here, but this gives you the general idea of how the tournament works. As a fan you’ll obviously pull for the Cowboys, but for other teams around them in the team race you’ll want to watch them and hope for losses to avoid them getting these advancement, bonus, and placement points.

ESPN will be broadcasting the entire event. You can check out the schedule here.

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