In any sport the regular season can be seen as a precursor for what is to come. This weekend at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis. the Michigan State wrestling team looks to come out and show the Big Ten Championship exactly what they are made of.
The road will not be easy, much like the rest of the Spartans’ season, for the grapplers of Sparta.
The heavy favorite to win the tournament is the Penn State Nittany Lions, (7-1, 15-1), whose only loss of the season was to the No. 1 Minnesota Gophers.
Three Spartans are ranked in the Championship: John Rizqallah at 184 pounds is the eighth seed, Nick McDiarmid at 197 pounds is seeded ninth and heavyweight Mike McClure is the sixth seed.
Coming off of a regular season capped by a three-match win streak, continuing the momentum in the postseason is key for a Spartan upset.
This season has been an arduous one filled with moments of brilliance in between thumping defeats via top-ranked opponents. In order to persevere this weekend, the top-seeded leaders of MSU head coach Tom Minkel’s team need to step up and set an example for their unseeded teammates to follow.
The format of the Championship is like this: The first matches begin at 11:00 a.m. Saturday. The semifinals and wrestlebacks follow that at 6:00 p.m. The consolation semifinals and seventh place matches will be at noon Sunday, and the final matches will be at 2:00 p.m.
* * *
Pinned Down Prediction
While I have never been one for crystal balls, I will offer my prediction for this weekend’s Big Ten Championship. Three teams are in the upper echelon: Minnesota, Iowa, and the omnipresent Penn State. I could see anyone of these teams winning this weekend, however, I predict that the Iowa Hawkeyes will stun the field and defeat the Gophers and Nittany Lions. Keep your fingers crossed Spartan fans, with St. Patrick’s Day right around the corner, some luck of the Irish would be much appreciated.
Nick Carver is the host of Pinned Down for Impact Sports.
Photo: Jonathan Yales/Impact Sports