Your defending national champion Iowa Hawkeye wrestling team is gearing up for the 2021-22 season and now we know part of their schedule as they get ready to try and claim their 25th national championship. The Big Ten portion of the schedule was released earlier this week:
|FRI 1/7/22||#15 Minnesota||Iowa City, IA|
|SUN 1/9/22||#22 Purdue||Iowa City, IA|
|FRI 1/14/22||#18 Northwestern||Evanston, IL|
|SUN 1/16/22||#21 Illinois||Champaign, IL|
|FRI 1/21/22||#7 Ohio State||Columbus, OH|
|FRI 1/28/22||#4 Penn State||Iowa City, IA|
|SAT 2/5/22||#17 Wisconsin||Iowa City, IA|
|SUN 2/20/22||#9 Nebraska||Lincoln, NE|
A few thoughts:
We don't yet have the non-conference portion of the schedule, though we do know that Iowa is expected to compete in the National Duals event in December. Historically, they also attend the Midlands Championships in Evanston, IL every year, which take place between Christmas and New Year's at the end of December. They also traditionally face Iowa State and Oklahoma State on an annual basis; those series were interrupted by COVID last year (Iowa wrestled Big Ten opponents exclusively until the NCAA Tournament), but I would imagine there's a good chance that those series will resume this season. The last time Iowa wrestled those two teams (in 2019-20), the Iowa State dual was in Ames and the Okie State dual was in Iowa City. Assuming those series do resume and Iowa does compete in National Duals and Midlands as well, any remaining non-conference dates would likely be filled by home duals against lower-level opposition.
In recent years, Iowa has competed in nine Big Ten duals (even last year they were scheduled to wrestle nine Big Ten duals, though COVID issues reduced that to just five actual regular season dual meets), but Big Ten teams are only doing eight duals this season. I haven't seen any reason for the shortened conference schedule.
Every single Big Ten opponent Iowa is set to face is currently ranked in InterMat's Top 25 dual meet rankings. And there are still ranked Big Ten foes that Iowa won't see during the dual meet season -- #5 Michigan and #14 Rutgers, specifically. Big Ten wrestling remains absolutely loaded, friends.
Two of Iowa's biggest dual meets -- Ohio State and Nebraska -- are on the road, so it's an easy choice for the marquee match of Iowa's home schedule: Penn State, currently ranked #4. (There's a pretty decent chance that they'll be ranked higher than that by the time the Iowa dual rolls around.) The Iowa-Penn State dual was an all-timer the last time they squared off (in Iowa City in 2020) and there should be plenty of fireworks for this year's iteration as well. Penn State was runner-up at the NCAA Tournament last year and they once again figure to be one of Iowa's biggest challengers for Big Ten and NCAA championships this year. Get your popcorn ready for January 28, 2022.
- In terms of the home/away decisions, it seems that the Big Ten is considering the duals last year as part of the regular home/away rotation, even if COVID forced their cancellation. So while Iowa and Penn State will end up wrestling consecutive dual meets in Iowa City, they were supposed to compete in State College last year -- unfortunately, COVID forced the cancellation of that dual meet. Likewise, Iowa faced Illinois and Northwestern in Iowa City last year (or was scheduled to do so), so those duals are in Champaign and Evanston, respectively, this year. It's a tough deal for fans who weren't allowed to attend last year's duals because of COVID, but that's what the Big Ten has decided to do.
Once the final schedule is released, I'll post that information as well. In the meantime, the 2021-22 season is drawing ever closer, which means we'll soon be watching a loaded Iowa wrestling team vie for conference and national championships. Can't. Wait.