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IOWA RELEASES 2015-16 WRESTLING SCHEDULE

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A few splashy events cover up a bland overall schedule.

IAWrestle

The big news about Iowa wrestling is obviously Grapple on the Gridiron, the outdoor dual meet between Iowa and Oklahoma State. But that isn't the only thing on Iowa's schedule in 2015-16.  Iowa released the full schedule yesterday:

Iowa 2015-16 schedule

(via IAWrestle)

It's, uh, not great.  As we already knew, Ohio State and Penn State are both off the schedule, thanks to the machinations of the Delanybot 9000.  The Big Ten schedule makers also took Iowa-Penn State off the schedule a few years ago, when Tom Brands and Cael Sanderson famously worked together (via Twitter!) to set up a non-conference dual meet that year so that the teams faced each other anyway.  Apparently they tried to do that this year, too, but weren't able to pull it together.  It's a shame to see the Iowa-Penn State rivalry put on hiatus for a year; it's quickly become one of the best rivalries in the sport (maybe the best, frankly) and it seems like a very poor idea for the league and the sport to not make sure that one of the marquee events of the year doesn't happen.  The Big Ten schedule makers really need to take a look at how they do things to do more to ensure that things like this don't happen.

As for the teams that are on the schedule... After the Oklahoma State dual to open the season, Iowa dials it back a week later with the Iowa City Duals.  There's a twist to the Duals this year, though -- in addition to regular opponents Baker University, Cornell College, and Iowa Central Community College, Iowa's also bringing in a Big Ten foe, Maryland.  (And it will count as an actual conference dual meet.)  I'm not sure how the logistics will work; wrestling four different opponents could make for a pretty long day.

Iowa heads to Ames over Thanksgiving weekend to try to pick up yet another win over Iowa State (SPOILER: they will), then heads back to Iowa City for a pair of home duals in December against South Dakota State and Rutgers (another Big Ten conference dual meet).  If you're a home fan, though, take a long look at Iowa at that Rutgers dual -- they don't return to Carver-Hawkeye Arena for well over a month, until a January 22 dual meet versus Purdue.  In between those home duals, Iowa heads to their usual holiday tournament (Midlands) in Evanston.  Following that they have three straight road dual meets to open January: Illinois, Northwestern, and Wisconsin.  There are a handful of interesting matches there, but overall none of these teams seem to have the firepower to really threaten Iowa.

After the home dual with Purdue, Iowa hops on I-80 for a road dual with Nebraska, which could be a sneaky-good dual meet.  Finally, Iowa closes out the regular season with home dual meets against Minnesota and Indiana. Minnesota is a traditional power, so they make for a pretty credible opponent, but this figures to be the weakest Minnesota team in several years.  It would be quite a surprise if this dual was as tight as many of the recent Iowa-Minnesota dual meets.

The schedule above doesn't include it, but the schedule on Hawkeye Sports lists NWCA National Duals for February 21 and 22 (February 22 is a Monday, so I'm a little skeptical that that date is accurate), so it looks like Iowa will be taking part in that event again.  The exact format for National Duals this year is still being hammered out; we'll have more on that a little bit later.

The Big Ten Tournament is in Iowa City, which helps takes some of the sting out of the mediocre home dual meet schedule.  Overall, Iowa has a pretty blah schedule, but the Kinnick dual meet and the Big Ten Tournament are splashy and exciting events that help cover up that fact.  Iowa should put together a very good dual meet record with this schedule, but a) that's hardly ever a problem for Iowa and b) that's not what they're fighting for.  As ever, Iowa's season is going to be judged by what they do in March -- and hopefully it starts with a home mat triumph for Iowa in the Big Ten Tournament and ends with a national championship at Madison Square Garden in New York City.