For the second straight year, the Iowa wrestling program has a Big Ten championship to their name. A regular season Big Ten championship, that is. The big prize is, of course, the championship awarded after the Big Ten Tournament in a little over two weeks (and the biggest prize is, of course, the NCAA Championship, to be awarded about a month from now). But the regular season championship -- for the team with the best dual meet record -- is still a prize, one worthy of a little celebration.
As noted, this is the second straight season that Iowa has been able to claim a regular season Big Ten championship. This year's title means a bit more than last year's title, though. While Iowa went 9-0 in Big Ten dual meets in both seasons, their accomplishment last year came with a fairly significant asterisk -- to quote a Paul Finebaum caller, THEY AIN'T PLAYED NO ONE. Due to the machinations of the Delanybot 9000 (or the whims of the Big Ten's scheduling rotations, Iowa missed out on duals with Penn State, Ohio State, and Michigan last year -- aka, three of the best teams in the conference. Iowa may have beaten some of those teams had they actually faced off, but probably not all of them. So while Iowa did go 9-0 (as did Penn State, who defeated Ohio State and Michigan to achieve that record), it wasn't the most satisfying (or impressive) mark.
This year's championship needs no such asterisks. Iowa faced the absolute best the Big Ten had to offer -- and mowed them all down (give or take an all-time great thriller with Penn State, anyway). Iowa faced all of the Big Ten's best teams this season -- and beat them all.
The current NWCA team rankings (based off dual meet competition) include 10 Big Ten teams in the Top 25. Iowa faced (and defeated) seven of those teams.
|RANK||TEAM||OVR||B1G||RESULT VS IOWA|
|#2||Penn State||11-2||8-1||L, 19-17|
|#6||Ohio State||10-4||6-3||L, 24-10|
The only team in the current Top-7 of the Big Ten standings that Iowa didn't face was Illinois (6-3 in Big Ten competition). The Illini did beat Michigan and lost just 22-16 to Penn State. They also lost 28-6 to Ohio State, barely beat Northwestern (19-18), and got beat by Purdue (18-14) last weekend. Considering Illinois doesn't have a higher-ranked wrestler than Iowa at any weight, I feel pretty confident in asserting that Iowa would have defeated them pretty easily if they had matched up this year. (Wrestlestat predicts a 38-0 Iowa win.)
The numbers behind Iowa's dominant dual meet campaign in the Big Ten this year are pretty stunning, so let's take a look at some of them:
Iowa went 75-15 in the 90 matches across those nine dual meets, 83% winning percentage
Iowa posted two shutouts in Big Ten competition (matching 41-0 wins over Indiana and Purdue) and held two other opponents to just one win (matching 32-3 wins over Wisconsin and Michigan State)
In fact, just two opponents, Ohio State (3 wins) and Penn State (4 wins), managed to win more than two matches against Iowa in a dual meet this year
Iowa outscored their opponents by a score of 277-54 in Big Ten duals this season
They scored 20+ points in every dual except the Penn State dual (where they scored 19 -- and were penalized a team point due to misconduct) and scored 30+ points in five duals
- The average score in their nine Big Ten dual meet wins this season was 31-6
That lopsided team success came from a roster of individual wrestlers who kicked butt and took names over the last two months as well, which you can see here:
|125||Spencer Lee||9-0||1||0||6||1 (+1 forfeit)|
A few thoughts:
Three Iowa wrestlers who wrestled at least two Big Ten matches went undefeated -- Spencer Lee, Kaleb Young, and Michael Kemerer, who all went 9-0
Overall, Iowa picked up bonus points in 25 of those 75 overall Big Ten wins, or exactly 33% of their wins
Lee, unsurprisingly, picked up the most bonus points for Iowa, recording bonus in 8 of his 9 Big Ten wins
Austin DeSanto, Alex Marinelli, and Kemerer were next-best, with each scoring four bonus point wins for the Hawkeyes in Big Ten duals; DeSanto had the best bonus point percentage, with bonus points in 67% (4 of 6) of his Big Ten wins
Marinelli, Kemerer, and Tony Cassioppi tied for the team lead in pins in Big Ten wins with two apiece
20 of Iowa's 25 bonus point wins were technical falls or falls (plus one forfeit); when Iowa scored bonus points, they tended to score a lot of bonus points
- Three wrestlers who won at least four Big Ten matches failed to record at least one bonus point victory -- Max Murin, Abe Assad, and Young
It was, all in all, a very good Big Ten dual meet season for Iowa.The biggest and most important prizes are still on the horizon, but that doesn't mean we can't take a few moments to appreciate the success that this group of Iowa wrestlers has had over the last two months of competition.
Well done, Hawkeyes.