The countdown to Iowa can begin. T-minus six days until the top-ranked Hawkeyes travel up to The Barn to take on the second-ranked Gophers wrestling team.
But before the hype can start, Minnesota had to take care of some other Big Ten business this weekend in Michigan.
The Gophers (16-1, 6-0 Big Ten) rolled on the road, defeating both the No. 9 Wolverines (32-6) and the No. 11 Spartans (25-9).
Minnesota got things going Friday in Ann Arbor with a dominating win over Michigan. Senior heavyweight Brock Lesnar started with his 10th pin of the season and the Gophers never looked back.
Minnesota went on to lose just two of its 10 matches, both of which went into overtime. The win was J Robinson’s 200th dual meet victory as coach of the Gophers.
Assistant coach Mark Schwab was happy with the intensity Minnesota showed against the Wolverines.
“We basically beat the crap out of a top-10 team,” Schwab said. “And we could have easily have won all 10 matches.”
On Sunday, Minnesota was in East Lansing to take on Michigan State. The Gophers took seven of the 10 matches, highlighted by a Luke Becker pin.
Schwab said the Gophers came out a little flat against the Spartans, partially because Michigan State’s style of wrestling differed from Minnesota’s.
Still, Schwab said the Gophers did what they needed to do.
“We continued to show that we have dominated the Big Ten,” Schwab said.
The ninth-ranked Becker, who helped lead the Gophers through Michigan this weekend, has been one of the hottest Minnesota wrestlers over the past couple of weeks.
The freshman’s win yesterday over the Spartans’ No. 8 Gary Maynard was Becker’s fourth straight. He hasn’t lost since falling to Oklahoma State in the finals of the National Duals three weekends ago.
Becker’s strong weekend against conference opponents will help him in terms of Big Ten tourney seeding — as will the strong individual performances by his teammates.
As a team, the sweep of the Michigans was the fourth consecutive for Minnesota. The last time a team from Michigan beat the Gophers was 1996, when Minnesota dropped its meets with both Michigan and Michigan State.
Now the pre-Iowa hype can begin. The Gophers and Hawkeyes face off Sunday at Williams Arena.
The winner of the meet will take home the regular season Big Ten title, something Schwab said will give the victor extra confidence heading into the conference tournament two weeks later.
“Everybody’s looking forward to next weekend, and the shot at the mythical Big Ten dual team championship,” Schwab said. “It’s number one vs. number two in the last dual meet of the season.”
Last season, Minnesota beat Iowa during the regular season and at the Big Ten championships. But the Hawkeyes got revenge with a win over the Gophers at the NCAA championships. Iowa won the NCAA title while Minnesota finished second.
The meet should be a good one.
John R. Carter covers wrestling and welcomes comments at [email protected]