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  • Photo: Photo/Sam Janicki

    Photo: Photo/Sam Janicki

    Spencer Lee's dominance by the numbers

    Spencer Lee is 15-0 with bonus points in all 15 matches (Photo/Sam Janicki, SJanickiPhoto.com)

    It would not be considered a stretch to say that the Big Ten Conference is the premiere collegiate wrestling conference. This year multiple wrestlers from the 14 member schools will enter the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships with a good chance to win, but none will be as big of favorite as No. 1 Spencer Lee. The Iowa junior will be looking for his third straight NCAA title. For the season, he has been utterly dominant. The following looks at how he has statistically separated himself from the field heading into the Big Ten Conference tournament.

    Points per minute

    Lee currently ranks first in match points scored per minute among Big Ten starters. Including all matches, he has scored 3.64 points per minute. Not only does this scoring rate rank first in the Big Ten, but it also puts himself well ahead of the field. No. 6 Devin Schroder (Purdue) currently ranks second in points per minute with only 1.72. The average among Big Ten starters is 1.15.

    Points against per minute

    Lee allowed five points in his season-opening match against Fabian Gutierrez (Chattanooga). Through the rest of the regular season he surrendered only eight points total. Three of those points came last weekend in his major decision victory over No. 4 Nick Piccinnni (Oklahoma State). In between those two matches Lee pitched 10 shutouts. For the season Lee has allowed his opponents to only score 0.26 points per minute. Once again the Iowa wrestler outpaces the field as the average for a Big Ten starter is more than twice as high at 0.68.

    Point differential

    Since Lee is far ahead of the conference in terms of both points per minute and points against per minute, it should not come as a surprise that he also has the best point differential on the year (match points scored per minute minus points against per minute). His +3.38 differential is more than seven times the average for a Big Ten starter (+0.47).

    Interestingly enough his differential has actually been better when facing Big Ten opposition. Against Big Ten opponents, Lee has a +4.09 differential. When including matches only intra-conference matches, the average for a Big Ten starter falls to +0.32.

    Schroder is actually second in all three of the previous categories, and he has clearly cemented himself as the No. 2 seed at this weight class heading into the conference tournament. Lee and Schroder met earlier this year. Lee scored a 15-0 technical fall in the first period. Schroder surrendered only 71 match points during the season, which means that 21% of the points her allowed were scored by Lee in less than a period.

    Average match length (without forfeits)

    Lee has scored eight technical falls and three falls on the year. Only his three matches against Gutierrez, Piccininni and No. 17 Jack Medley (Michigan) have gone the full seven minutes. His quickest victory of the year came when he scored a 52-second fall over Christian Moody (Oklahoma) at the Midlands Championships. The average match for Lee has gone only 3:33. The next shortest average match time among starters is 5:45 (Schroder) and the average for a Big Ten starter is 6:10.

    Saved time (without forfeits)

    By terminating 11 of his matches early, Lee has saved himself a significant amount of time on the mat. If all of his matches had gone the full seven minutes, he would have wrestled an extra 48:19.

    The Big Ten Conference tournament will feature six wrestlers currently ranked by InterMat, and there will be eight qualification spots up for grabs. Upsets certainly happen, but it is hard to see how Lee does not work his way through the tournament and enter the NCAA bracket as the No. 1 seed. Last year he finished the regular season with only a +2.08 match point differential, and he went on to win the national title. Then again, Lee has never won a Big Ten tournament despite owning a pair of NCAA tournament titles.

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