Guess what everybody! The B1G Wrestling Championships are this weekend! And they’re at Williams Arena! I don’t know about any of you, but I can’t wait to hear Penn State fans complain about their first exposure to obstructed view seats while craning their necks to watch their guys scythe their way through the early rounds. And think about all the Iowa fans we’ll have traversing in from such exotic locales as Apple Valley and Lakeville to watch their guys finish somewhere between 3rd and 5th! Think of this as the warm-up for a slightly more in-depth preview coming tomorrow after the coaches get together and determine the final seeds. But for now, here’s what you need to know:
Who: Barring injuries and Iowa 285 Sam Stoll being scared, 140 wrestlers from all 14 B1G Schools spread across 10 weight classes and their coaches. And a bunch of grumpy old people who don’t move or say much until somebody’s about to score and their hyperactive kids/grandkids that won’t sit still or shut up cheering everybody on.
What: The 107th B1G Wrestling Championships
When: Session I stars Saturday at 10 AM, Session II is Saturday night at 6 PM, Session III is Sunday at noon, and Session IV follows immediately at 3 PM.
Where: Williams Arena!
Why: Because we need to fill the 78 automatic qualification spots the conference has for the NCAA tournament in Pittsburgh, PA on the 21st-23rd of this month.
Do the Gophers have a chance to win?: **falls off chair laughing** Oh goodness no. But thank you. I haven’t laughed that hard since wisconsin was a preseason top-5 team in football last fall. It’s going to be either Penn State or Ohio State. The best we can hope for is to somehow sneak past Michigan and Iowa for 3rd.
Do any individual Gophers have a chance to win their weight class?: Ok, that’s better. Yes. FR 285 Gable Steveson should win. He’s a goddamn freak of nature who’s 27-0 on the year, ranked #1 in his class, and has wins over guys currently ranked #2, 5, 7, 9, 13, 14, and 19. The kid is incredible and will hopefully get his first National Title in a few weeks after he becomes the first Gopher since Chris Dardanes in 2015 to win a B1G Title.
How many Gophers will make the NCAA Tournament?: Well everybody wrestled to their pre-seeded spot, we’d send the whole team except 184 (Brandon Krone) and 197 (Dylan Anderson). So…pretty good but not great.
Who should I really cheer against?: Iowa’s 133 Austin DeSanto is a prick. He’s been dinged team points for unsportsmanlike conduct for taunting opponents multiple times this year (including after his match against the Gopher’s Ethan Lizak) and actually got suspended by known humanitarian and calm individual Tom Brands. He’s really good, but so is the 133 class in the B1G so we’ve got plenty of other people to cheer for to beat the smug out of that little clown.
Which non-Gopher should I cheer for?: PSU 197 Bo Nickal! Obviously! The lanky Texan is not…perfectly technically sound. But he has an incredible feel for what his opponent is going to do and ends up doing some rather insane things before pinning his opponent. He’s 22-0 on the year and has only let guys finish the match 5 times, only one of which was a boring decision. 15 pins, 12 of which have come in the first period, make him my favorite non-Gopher to watch (assuming I don’t blink and miss it like I did when he beat #2 Kollin Moore of OSU in 1:38 last month).