March 16, 2011
The Big Ten Conference will be well-represented at the 2011 NCAA Wrestling Championships, as 70 conference wrestlers will make the trip to the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia this weekend. The event is set to take place on March 17-19, with every session garnering live coverage from the ESPN family of networks.
The Big Ten will send at least five wrestlers from each weight class to the championships, giving the conference more participants than any other. Six Big Ten grapplers from the 125-pound class will compete in the event, while eight wrestlers at 133 pounds, six at 141, eight at 149, seven at 157, five at 165, eight at 174, seven at 184, eight at 197 and seven at heavyweight will make the trip. The conference's lone No. 1 seed entering the championships is Michigan's Kellen Russell, who seeks his first national title at 141 after earning his third conference crown at the 2011 Big Ten Championships.
A Big Ten team has won the national championship at each of the past four events, as Iowa has taken the last three and Minnesota won the title in 2007. Two conference wrestlers will look to defend their national champion status, as Iowa 125-pounder Matt McDonough and Wisconsin 165-pounder Andrew Howe each won titles in 2010.
The Hawkeyes seek their fourth-straight and 23rd overall national title at this year's championships and will send a conference-high nine wrestlers to Philadelphia. Each Big Ten school will have at least four wrestlers competing, as the Golden Gophers will also send nine, while Michigan and Penn State will send eight, Wisconsin will send seven, Illinois, Michigan State, Northwestern, Ohio State and Purdue will send five and Indiana will send four.
The three-day, six-session event will begin with preliminary matches at 11 a.m. ET on Thursday and will continue into the evening session beginning at 7:30 p.m. The third session will begin Friday at 10:30 a.m. with quarterfinal action and wrestlebacks highlighting the schedule. The championships' fourth session begins at 7 p.m. and will feature semifinal action. Saturday morning brings the conclusion of the consolation bracket as third-, fifth- and seventh-place winners will be decided beginning at 11 a.m. The sixth and final session is scheduled for Saturday evening at 7:30 p.m., where NCAA weight class champions will be crowned.
The first and second rounds will be broadcast exclusively on ESPN3.com, while ESPNU HD will air the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds. ESPN HD and ESPN3.com will broadcast the final round on Saturday.