The team title's in the bag already, having been secured with a dominant performance in last night's semifinal round. Tonight's finals are all about individual glory. For Dennis and Borschel, it's one final chance to cap off their Iowa careers with the biggest prize of all: a national championship. For McDonough and Marion, it's a chance to put the finishing touches on their impressive debut seasons for Iowa and to serve notice to the rest of the country that this is the future of Iowa wrestling. And for Metcalf, it's one last shot to solidify his legacy, to atone for a pair of painful upset losses (last year's national championship finals and this year's Big Ten finals), and to write one last chapter in the incredible story of his Hawkeye career.
And while these matches are primarily about individual glory, there's one last bit of team history that this year's team can make. The team (and NCAA) record for most champions from a single team is five (done by Iowa in 1986 and 1997). This year's team obviously can't better that mark, but they can tie it, which would certainly solidify this team as one of the all-time greats in Iowa history. The odds are stacked against them: they'll be facing five very good opponents tonight (three of whom the Iowa wrestlers are very, very familiar with and who have provided some of the stiffest challenges of their careers) and in terms of seeding they'll be underdogs in all but one of the matches. Is it likely? Of course not. But after seeing what Borschel did last night, coming back and winning a match in which he should have been dead and buried, can you absolutely positively rule it out? I can't.
Session VI (Championship matches) begins at 6:30pm CST. TV coverage on ESPN (in HD, even). There's also radio coverage (KXIC if you're in or around Iowa City; Hawkeye All-Access ($) via the intewebs otherwise) or liveblogs/Twitter updates. Liveblogs: Andy Hamilton at Hawk Central; KJ Pilcher at the Gazoo. Twitter: (P-C) Andy_Hamilton, (Gazoo) kjpilcher, (DI) jtbugos and rcyou.
Feel free to chat about whichever NCAA Tournament you happen to be watching.
FINALS -- CHAMPIONSHIP BRACKET
125 - #3 Matt McDonough vs. #5 Andrew Long (ISU)
133 - #2 Dan Dennis vs. #1 Jayson Ness (Minny)
141 - #6 Montell Marion vs. #1 Kyle Dake (Cornell)
149 - #2 Brent Metcalf vs. #1 Lance Palmer (fOSU)
174 - #2 Jay Borschel vs. #1 Mack Lewnes (Cornell)
HISTORY AGAINST OPP.
125 - McDonough DEC (9-8) Long, McDonough DEC (9-7) Long, McDonough DEC (13-7) Long (all 09-10)
133 - Ness DEC (9-3) Dennis (09-10), Ness DEC (8-4) Dennis (09-10), Dennis DEC (6-4) Ness (08-09), Dennis DEC (9-7) Ness (08-09)
141 - No prior meetings
149 - Palmer DEC (9-3) Metcalf (09-10), Metcalf DEC (3-1) Palmer (09-10), Metcalf DEC (6-2) Palmer (08-09), Metcalf DEC (3-2) Palmer (07-08), Metcalf DEC (5-3) Palmer (08-09)
174 - No prior meetings