With the advent of OnDemand and the cable guide channel that scrolls through your options for viewing pleasure 24 hours a day, it seems odd that we do not have a way to find the best college wrestling match-ups on the slate for the week, especially outside of Division I. Unfortunately as so often is the case, the best ideas for improving our sport come late in the season. Here it is, in what will hopefully become a weekly stop for those of you looking for what is happening in the “other” divisions.
Below are listed the top match-ups between NCAA Division II and Division III wrestling teams, as well as the battles to watch in the NAIA. The post-season approaches for these divisions, but that does not mean they are taking it easy. If you are looking for the best duals taking place for fans, look no further.
All times in parenthesis are eastern standard
Wednesday, February 7th
#4 Ashland University at #18 University of Findlay (7:00 PM)
Ashland has come on strong really hitting their stride after attending the Midwest Classic hosted by the University of Indianapolis. With seven wrestlers ranked they are poised to challenge for a team trophy in March. Findlay will look to play spoiler at home as they try to head into the post-season with momentum.
#9 Lindsey Wilson College at #4 University of the Cumberlands (7:00 PM)
The lone battle between ranked NAIA schools is an absolute must-watch. Coach Chris Fleeger is ready to lead his Cumberlands Patriots on a run at a team trophy, not just at conferences and regions, but at the national tournament. Ninth-ranked Lindsey Wilson has moved up in the latest polls and a win over their conference rivals will set the stage for fun seeding meetings over the next few weeks.
Thursday, February 8th
#15 Western State-Colorado at #24 Adams State (6:00 PM)
Western State could be a top 10 team at the national tournament depending on how their regional shakes out. They are one of 14 teams ranked in the top 25 with three or fewer ranked wrestlers which puts them on the cusp of breaking into that hallowed ground. They face a scrappy Adams State program looking to add a final upset to their season. If they can get momentum early this dual could turn into a nail-biter for Western.
#6 Upper Iowa University at #1 St Cloud State University (7:00 PM)
Speaking of teams looking for an upset, what better way to cap off a strong season for the Upper Iowa squad than a win over top-ranked St Cloud State? St Cloud State is a powerful team ranked at all but one weight class and in the last rankings, they held a 23 point lead over second-ranked Notre Dame. This is a dress rehearsal for the Minnesota squad as they head towards the post-season.
#12 North Central College at CCIW Championships hosted by Wheaton College (1:00 PM)
All the pressure will be on North Central College as they take on Augustana (IL), Concordia (WI), Elmhurst, Millikin, Milwaukee School of Engineering, and Wheaton College. They will be heavy favorites to run away with the title, but in small tournaments, anything can happen as one upset changes the whole dynamic of a tournament.
#4 Johnson & Wales University at #20 Roger Williams University (6:30 PM)
The smallest state in the nation is going to be a battleground as its two best wrestling schools will meet in Providence for a grudge match. The winner will have bragging rights for a year while the loser will have to sit on that L all the way home.
Friday, February 9th
#8 Wisconsin-Whitewater, #10 Wisconsin-La Crosse and #25 Wisconsin-Platteville at WIAC Championships at Wisconsin-Whitewater(12:00 PM)
The Superbowl of Wisconsin college wrestling will feature three-ranked teams taking on the rest of the field to be crowned the best team in the cheesehead state. They will be challenged by the rest of the University of Wisconsin schools such as Eau-Claire, Oshkosh, and Stevens Point. If you thought bragging rights in Rhode Island were important, just wait for this tournament.
#5 Loras College at #1 Wartburg College (8:00 PM)
This is a family affair. Head coach emeritus Jim Miller built Wartburg into a Division III powerhouse that continues to steamroll the competition now that he has taken a back seat. His son TJ Miller has turned Loras College into a team trophy contender in just his second season at the helm. At stake is a perfect season for a Loras team that has already set a new record for dual wins. Wartburg will be trying to avoid a three-loss season for the first time since 1992. This match may not have the firepower on paper of last week’s battle of the Burgs, but it has its own intrigue.
Saturday, February 10th
#25 Shippensburg University at #16 West Liberty University (12:00 PM)
Shippensburg wants another top 25 win on their resume and their last chance will be West Liberty on the road. It will be a tall task, but weird results happen this time of the year.
#8 Simon Fraser University at #9 California Baptist University (12:00 PM)
A west coast battle between Canada’s Division II school and the team from Riverside, California makes for a good storyline. Pacific bragging rights will be on the line, but without their head coach Justin Abdou who will be with the women’s team seeking a title at the WCWA National Tournament it will be interesting to see how Simon Fraser performs.
#11 Olivet College and #13 Wabash College at Mid-States Invitational Tournament, hosted by Manchester (9:00 AM)
Two top 15 teams are going to face off against hungry midwest squads in North Manchester, Indiana. The MSIT will be a challenge Olivet and Wabash with Adrian, Alma, Manchester, Ohio Northern, Otterbein, and Trine in an eight-team free-for-all. The winner of this tournament will need to navigate not only upsets but those late-season injuries that can end a team’s run before it even begins.
#24 Central College hosts Last Chance Open (10:00 AM)
It is exactly what it sounds like. A last chance for an open tournament before back-ups and redsirts are relegated to the role of work-out partners until after the post-season. Teams from Iowa and even Nebraska Wesleyan will head to Pella, Iowa. Hopefully, no one tilts at the windmills as this will be some wrestler’s last shot on the competition mat for the season.
Sunday, February 11th
MIAA Championships hosted by Newman University (10:00 AM)
#10 Central Oklahoma University, #12 University of Nebraska-Kearney, #20 Lindenwood University
Three-ranked universities will do battle with the likes of Central Missouri, Newman, and Fort Hays State in a test-run for teams as they head into regionals. A strong performance can signal a team is ready to challenge for it all, while a rough showing could show a team that has hit the wall. Look to the results as a good predictor for qualifiers.
Maryville Duals at Maryville University (12:00 PM)
Maryville will play host to three top 25 matchups on Sunday in St Louis. Four different teams that are currently ranked will take to the mat including second-ranked Notre Dame College and sixth-ranked McKendree. They will meet on the mat at noon and then Notre Dame will have a quick turn-around as they take on the 13th ranked University of Indianapolis. The day will continue to be a grind as 23rd Maryville waits for them in the final dual of the night. This will be a test for Notre Dame after they finished a disappointing fifth in the NWCA National Dual tournament.