The University of Iowa University of Iowa

Big Ten Ready for Wrestling

The Big Ten conference  is all set for the Big Ten wrestling championships this Saturday and Sunday in Evanston Ill., and although Iowa finished strong, winning duals against #5 Minnesota to finish the regular season and upsetting #1 Penn State in late January, only one Hawkeye wrestler was selected is going in as #1 seed: Matt McDonough.

Wisconsin has three #1 seeds.

Penn State has FIVE.

Associate head coach Terry Brands hopes Luke Lofthouse can build on his 17-4 record. (photo and feature photo from

But don’t take this as Penn State is the automatic favorite.

Iowa has nine wrestlers in the pre-seeds. The Nittany Lions have eight.  If fact, four teams have more pre-seeds PSU.  Both Michigan and Wisconsin share the 9 mark with Iowa, and Minnesota is the only team to have all ten weight classes represented in the pre-seeds.

The way I see it, only four teams really have a legitimate shot at winning this thing: Iowa, Penn State, Wisconsin and Minnesota.  The other six teams simply don’t have the depth of firepower that these teams have.

For the Hawkeyes, the results will not be decided by the big names like McDonough, Marion, and Lofthouse.

Pay attention to the “other guys”.

How many points can our three seeds, Tony Ramos (133), Grant Gambrall (184) and Blake Rasing (hwt) put up? What will our 4 seed Aaron Janssen (165) do? Can Matt Ballweg step up and find his second win at 149?

Ballweg started the season wrestling vigorously, earning a 15-3 record and personal rankings as high as #12.  He currently sits at 1-3 since being bumped up from 141 after the return of Montell Marion. Bringing in points from Mark Ballweg will be high priority for the Brands crew.

Wisconsin will be significantly boosted by the return of NCAA and Big Ten champion Andrew Howe, who has been injured since January 16th.  Wisconsin was ranked #3 before Howe went down, since then they have fallen to #16, but look out Big Ten, the big bad Badger is back.

For Minnesota, loosing to Iowa at the end of the season looks poor, but they still have the firepower to win the team title.  Same as Iowa, the Gophers chances rest on some of their lower seeded wrestlers, such as 8 seed Matt Mincey (157) and 5  seed Sonny Yohn at 197.

Penn State head coach Cael Sanderson will shoot for his first Big Ten team title. (photo from

Penn State simply needs their top guys to pick up bonus points early. If those five wrestlers can get pins and major decisions early, the Nittany Lions could run away with the title, and the rest of the conference will be like dogs chasing a car down the street.

Michigan, although they have a top seed in Kellen Russell (149) and nine pre-seeds, simply doesn’t have the depth to win the team title.  The majority of their wrestlers are seeded around 5-8, and the difference the rest of the conference’s top guys and Michigan’s seven and eight seeds is just to much for the Wolverines.

So pay attention wrestling fans, this one might come down to the championship round on Sunday.

If it does, I would prefer to have Tom Brands in my corner.



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