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What impact will National Duals have on 2015 NCAAs?
By Mike Finn
NEWTON, Iowa — When the Iowa wrestling team won three straight NCAA team championships between 2008 and 2010, there was another common factor for those three Hawkeye teams.
Those Iowa teams also won the NWCA National Duals that season.
So will that historical fact have anything to do with this year’s Duals — which will be held in Iowa City this Saturday and Sunday — and eventually the 2015 NCAA Championships, March 19-21, in St. Louis?
“(Back then), this (National Duals) event was in January but that’s when I learned we were a good team,” recalled Brands about also beating Nebraska, Cornell and Iowa State, respectively, those seasons. “It wasn’t easy to do that. It was a work in progress every week and that’s where we are now.”
The Hawkeyes, which advanced to the National Duals finals after beating Virginia in a regional last Sunday, are ranked No. 1 and are the top seed in this event, which began in 1989, when it was called the Virginia Duals. Iowa will open up the Duals at noon on Saturday against Chattanooga, which is unranked but defeated Oklahoma in another regional last weekend.
With a victory, Iowa will face the winner of the Minnesota-Cornell dual at 3 p.m. In the opposite bracket, Missouri — No. 2 in WIN’s dual-team rankings — will face Illinois, while Ohio State takes on Lehigh in first-round matchups with the winners of those duals also facing each other in the semifinals at 3 p.m.
The championship and third-place dual will take place Sunday at 11:30 a.m. in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Brands wants his team to simply continue doing what they’ve been doing all year as Iowa shoots to win a seventh all-time Duals title.
“It’s about running the table; winning everything,” Brands said. “It’s the next event and get ready to tackle the next event.”
Brands also downplays the thought this event might mess with the peaking process of the team that will compete in the Big Ten tournament, March 7-8 in Columbus, Ohio, and the NCAAs two weeks later.
“It’s officially the postseason,” Brands said. “I don’t think much changes because we are getting ready for big matches when you face high-power teams back to back. The preparation comes from between (the Iowa wrestlers’) ears. I’m a big proponent of them getting themselves ready.
“Peaking is a mindset. You get ready for tough matches and we’d be getting ready for tough matches this weekend even if we didn’t have the National Duals. It’s just another event on the schedule and one we have to get ready for.”
Not all the top teams have historically entered this event, including the past four years when Penn State won the NCAAs. But this year’s tournament features six teams — No. 1 Iowa (15-0), No. 2 Missouri (21-0), No. 3 Ohio State (13-3), No. 4 Minnesota (11-2), No. 5 Cornell (15-1) and No. 9 Illinois (13-4) — in WIN’s Top-10 Dual Rankings.
Minnesota has won the most National Duals (eight), including the past three Duals that were held in Stillwater, Okla., Minneapolis and Columbus, Ohio, respectively. In the past three years, the Gophers ended up second, third and second, respectively, at the NCAAs. Iowa has defeated both Minnesota and Ohio State on the road this season, but has not faced Missouri. The Tigers have road victories this year over Ohio State and Cornell.
Brands, whose team did not compete in the 2014 National Duals, admitted having the 2015 National Duals in Iowa City helped make for a stronger home schedule in 2014-15.
“We were light on our home schedule in terms of our opponents,” Brands said. “It’s not like we were not challenged but we did not have our historical rivals like Penn State, Minnesota and Oklahoma State and Ohio State (at home).
“We will see what will happen to the National Duals after this. I feel like I’m in business with the NWCA and I think this can be really good. We will see.”
The concept of the National Duals has caused a split among the coaches.
“The way it’s going, it’s either going to die or the NCAA is going to make it part of the (traditional tournament) team scoring,” Brands aid. “It’s been talked about a lot and evenly split among the coaches. But even the coaches who are on the same side of the fence have different ideas on why they may be on one side of the fence. But I believe (the different ideas are) valid.
“I know (Maryland coach) Kerry McCoy has talked about the disparity of budgets and that’s a problem with having a dual-meet component because programs with 4.5 scholarships can’t possibly compete for dual-meet team points. And can they also compete for a tournament title?”
But Brands said he likes duals because of what it offers fans.
“It is fan friendly,” Brands said. “It’s an event, a single day on the calendar. You have a ticket and sit down in your seat. You are entertained for two hours. The live television opportunities are ramped up and draw the most fan interest. People at home or watching in the arena get to go berserk when things go well for them.
All-Time NWCA National Duals
|Year||Site||Championship Final||NCAA Champion|
|1989||Hampton, Va.||Oklahoma State 22, Arizona State 13||Oklahoma State|
|1990||Hampton, Va.||Oklahoma State 24, Arizona State 19||Oklahoma State|
|1991||Hampton, Va.||Penn State 21, Oklahoma State 18||Iowa|
|1992||Ann Arbor, Mich.||Iowa 32, Iowa State 13||Iowa|
|1993||Lincoln, Neb.||Penn State 20, Nebraska 13||Iowa|
|1994||Lincoln, Neb.||Oklahoma State 17, Iowa 15||Oklahoma State|
|1995||Lincoln, Neb.||Iowa 31, Oklahoma State 3||Iowa|
|1996||Lincoln, Neb.||Iowa 20, Nebraska 15||Iowa|
|1997||Lincoln, Neb.||Oklahoma State 21, Iowa 13||Iowa|
|1998||Iowa City, Iowa||Minnesota 18, Iowa 17||Iowa|
|1999||Iowa City, Iowa||Oklahoma State 20, Minnesota 17||Iowa|
|2000||State College, Pa.||Iowa State 17, Minnesota 16||Iowa|
|2001||State College, Pa.||Minnesota 20, Oklahoma 12||Minnesota|
|2002||Columbus, Ohio||Minnesota 26, Ohio State 8||Minnesota|
|2003||Columbus, Ohio||Oklahoma State 27, Oklahoma 6||Oklahoma State|
|2004||Cleveland, Ohio||Oklahoma 24, Missouri 15||Oklahoma State|
|2005||Cleveland, Ohio||Oklahoma State 22, Illinois 15||Oklahoma State|
|2006||Cedar Falls, Iowa||Minnesota 21, Oklahoma State 14||Oklahoma State|
|2007||Cedar Falls, Iowa||Minnesota 20, Missouri 16||Minnesota|
|2008||Cedar Falls, Iowa||Iowa 24, Nebraska 6||Iowa|
|2009||Cedar Falls, Iowa||Iowa 23, Cornell 13||Iowa|
|2010||Cedar Falls, Iowa||Iowa 19, Iowa State 12||Iowa|
|2011||Cedar Falls, Iowa||Cornell 25, Virginia Tech 10||Penn State|
|2012||Stillwater, Okla.||Minnesota 18, Oklahoma State 13||Penn State|
|2013||Minneapolis, Minn.||Minnesota 28, Oklahoma State 9||Penn State|
|2014||Columbus, Ohio||Minnesota 24, Cornell 15||Penn State|
MOST CHAMPIONSHIPS (OUT OF 26)