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Big Ten 2021 Wrestling Schedule Finally Released!

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The B1G has re-upped its conference-only schedule from Fall sports, and has released its pandemic-shortened 2021 season wrestling schedule.

Can Penn State Wrestling finish the 2021 National Tournament the same way they finished the last one in 2019: as National Champions?
Tony Rotundo/ WrestlersAreWarriors

Finally, we learn when we’ll get to see the Nittany Lions compete in a Division 1 competition.

It’s January 16, at Rutgers!

This date is meaningful, in that the deadline for PSU Spring semester registration is January 12. This means that Nittany Lion wrestlers who had been considering using either an NCAA or Olympic Redshirt this season (after the pandemic, but before the NCAA granted a free eligibility year to all athletes for all 2021 sports season) can be fully registered/enrolled/eligible for this free-eligibility season. Look for guys like Nick Lee & Greg Kerkvliet to join the full roster, whenever it also finally gets released, and for PSU to roll out its fullest Death Star Lineup, as it pursues its 5th straight team National Championship.

In a departure from the rotating schedule pattern that’s been in effect since the 2015 season, the conference is finally including Tri-Meets and Quad-Meets. I can’t wait to see how those look!

Before we dive into it, a quick review of the prior year rotation model.

Prior Year 14-team Conference Wrestling Schedule Model

  • Each team wrestles 9 duals per year
  • Each team skips 4 teams every year
  • 14 teams are split into rivalry pairs; each team wrestles its rivalry partner every year
  • Other 12 teams come and go in pairs, and pairs are synced along Home/Away lines
  • Results in wrestling each of 12 teams every 2 out of 3 years, along with;
  • Missing two pairs of two teams every third year.

Rivalry Pairs

  • Iowa / Minnesota
  • Penn State / Ohio State
  • Michigan / Michigan State
  • Nebraska / Wisconsin
  • Illinois / Northwestern
  • Indiana / Purdue
  • Rutgers / Maryland

Rutgers and Maryland joined in 2014, after the 2013/14 schedule was finalized, and the 9-Dual Rotation began in 2014/2015 season. That change made it much more difficult for Cael Sanderson and Tom Brands to schedule each other on their own, in a “non-conference” dual, like they famously arranged for on Twitter, for the 2014 season.

2014 (12 teams, 11 opponents, 8 B1G-Scheduled conference duals)

  • Skipped by the B1G: Wiscy & Iowa
  • Home: tOSU & Ill/NW & Pur
  • Away: Minny & Mich/MSU & Indy
  • Non-con Cael-Brands-scheduled, Away: Iowa

2021 Pandemic Schedule

This year’s schedule drops the home/away portion of the Rivalry Pair model, while keeping each team’s rival, and results in this for Penn State:

  • Skip: Illinois, Purdue, Nebraska & Minnesota
  • Home Duals (3): Michigan State, Iowa & Maryland
  • Away Duals (2): Rutgers, Ohio State
  • Away Tris (2): Indiana + Northwestern and Michigan + Wisconsin

Dates & Opponents:

  • Sat, Jan 16: Away vs Rutgers
  • Sun, Jan 24: Home vs Michigan State
  • Sat, Jan 30: Away Tri vs Indiana + Northwestern
  • Sun, Feb 7: Away Tri vs Michigan + Wisconsin
  • Fri, Feb 12: Home vs Iowa
  • Fri, Feb 19: Away vs Ohio State
  • Sun, Feb 21: Home vs Maryland
  • Mar 5&6: Big Ten Tourney, at Penn State
  • Mar 18-20: National Tourney, at St. Louis

The lone conference Quad meet is scheduled for Sat, Feb 26 at Indiana and includes the Hoosiers, Rutgers, Nebraska and Michigan State.

Tris and Quads are an excellent way to ease travel requirements. Pandemic-era competitions are still likely to include little to no fans, so it will remain to be seen what kind of variations they can bring to an event ambience, but the NCAA has long included them as loopholes to its wrestling limitation of 16 competition events. It counts competitions competed on the same day or one day apart as only one of the 16 allowable. I’ll be curious to hear from Big Ten coaches about them, now that the conference is finally including them.

It will also be interesting to see how different outlets cover and treat them. Structurally, they’ll still be competed as Dual Meets, just with fewer time passed between them. Which works well for our favorite D1 results site WrestleStat, which has already entered each Big Ten team’s schedule and lists Tris & Quads as Dual Meets with the same date. Here is their Penn State listing (click the Schedule tab).