The Toughest Dual Meet Schedules

null
Who's got the toughest dual meet schedule in NCAA Division I wrestling? Though the debate will rage long after the season is over, we've crunched the numbers to find out.

The first thing to keep in mind is that we only have preseason rankings on which to base our opinions. Those rankings will inevitably change, perhaps drastically, by the time the season is over. Thus we can only attempt to guess at this point. 

The second thing to take note of is that not every dual is known, as many of the matchups at dual meet tournaments and events are to be determined (or else we just couldn't locate the matchups). We also did not include tournaments, and several teams clearly emphasized tournament participation over dual meets. 

Finally, as much as we wanted to analyze every team in the NCAA, and we did at least take cursory looks at just about every DI team's schedule, time constraints limited our in depth analysis to 18 teams. We also stopped taking note of opponents outside the preseason 31 because of arbitrary time constraints. Apologies to anyone we didn't get to. 

With our caveats out of the way, here are the top five toughest dual meet schedules:

1. Minnesota Golden Gophers

The Gophers are one of two teams -- the other being Iowa -- that will wrestle each of the top four teams this year. They will also see nine top 20 teams, which is tied for the most in the NCAA. Being in the Big Ten helps with crafting a tough schedule, but Minnesota went the extra mile to make sure it saw quality out-of-conference foes. Oklahoma State and Cornell were both conference champions last year, and South Dakota State, North Carolina and Rider are all top-tier competition. Throw in trips to the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational and the Daktronics Open and few teams will be as battle tested as Minnesota come March.

2. Michigan Wolverines

The Wolverines were the other team besides Minnesota to have nine top 20 opponents on its schedule. Michigan also went out of its way to ensure it had quality out-of-conference dual meets. The Wolverines will see both Lehigh and Arizona State in what looks to be top 10 years for both programs. Big Blue will also make their annual appearance at the CKLV for good measure.

3. Iowa Hawkeyes

Few teams get as much publicity for the teams they don't schedule as the Hawkeyes, but Tom Brands and company have still managed to construct a monster slate of dual meets. They'll see the current top four teams in the nation -- as they are currently ranked -- and Big Ten beasts Illinois, Rutgers, and Minnesota. Iowa's out of-conference schedule aside from Oklahoma State is not quite as strong as the top two teams on our list, but Rider is a very tough team. The Hawkeyes' annual match Iowa State will be a major event regardless of either team's ranking. 

4. Ohio State Buckeyes

It's no coincidence that a fourth Big Ten team makes our list, as the toughest conference in the NCAA will naturally have the toughest schedules. The Buckeyes supplement their powerhouse in-conference schedule with matches against Arizona State, North Carolina State, and Princeton.

5. Arizona State Sun Devils

As part of his commitment to building the Sun Devils back into a title contender, Zeke Jones has assembled the toughest out-of-conference schedule of anyone in the country. Oregon State and Stanford will be stout competition for sure, but the rest of the schedule is chock-full of non-Pac-12 powers. It must have no easy to task to find a way to get the likes of Ohio State, Michigan, Lehigh, South Dakota State, and North Carolina to jigsaw into the schedule. Arizona State will also be making trips to the CKLV and the Midlands, just in case the duals weren't enough.

Honorable Mention

Literally everyone else. Scheduling is a thankless job and every DI coach who fills up a full slate of events deserves kudos. If you can think of another DI program not in the top five, we have officially included it as an honorable mention.

Below is the list of all the top 18 schools and every one of their top 31 opponents in the 2017-18 season. 

No. 1 Penn State: 2 Ohio State, 3 Michigan, 6 Lehigh, 9 Iowa, 10 Minnesota, 13 Rutgers, 26 Buffalo

No. 2 Ohio State: 1 Penn State, 3 Michigan, 7 Arizona, State, 9 Iowa, 10 Minnesota, 12 NC State, 13 Rutgers, 21 Princeton

No. 3 Michigan: 1 Penn State, 2 Ohio State, 6 Lehigh, 7 Arizona State, 9 Iowa, 10 Minnesota, 16 Central Michigan, 17 Nebraska, 20 Oregon State, 21 Princeton, 31 Wisconsin

No. 4 OK State: 5 Missouri, 9 Iowa, 10 Minnesota, 11 UNI, 12 NC State, 18 North Carolina, 19 Wyoming

No. 5 Missouri: 4 OK State, 8 Virginia Tech, 11 UNI, 14 Illinois, 16 Central Michigan, 18 North Carolina, 22 Rider, 29 Virginia, 30 Cornell

No. 6 Lehigh: 1 Penn State, 7 Arizona State, 8 Virginia Tech, 21 Princeton, 25 Navy, 27 Pittsburgh, 30 Cornell, 31 Wisconsin

No. 7 Arizona State: 2 Ohio State, 3 Michigan, 6 Lehigh, 15 SD State, 18 North Carolina, 20 Oregon State, 27 Pittsburgh, 28 Stanford

No. 8 Virginia Tech: 5 Missouri, 6 Lehigh, 12 NC State, 16 Central Michigan, 18 North Carolina, 21 Princeton, 27 Pittsburgh, 28 Stanford, 29 Virginia

No. 9 Iowa: 1 Penn State, 2 Ohio State, 3 Michigan, 4 OK State, 10 Minnesota, 13 Rutgers, 14 Illinoi, ,22 Rider

No. 10 Minnesota: 1 Penn State, 2 Ohio State, 3 Michigan, 4 OK State, 9 Iowa, 13 Rutgers, 14 Illinois, 15 SD State, 18 North Carolina, 22 Rider, 30 Cornell

No. 11 UNI: 4 OK State, 5 Missouri, 15 SD State, 18 North Carolina, 30 Cornell

No. 12 NC State: 2 Ohio State, 4 OK State, 8 Virginia Tech, 17 Nebraska, 18 North Carolina, 29 Virginia

No. 13 Rutgers: 1 Penn State, 2 Ohio State, 9 Iowa, 10 Minnesota, 14 Illinois, 17 Nebraska, 18 North Carolina, 21 Princeton, 29 Virginia, 31 Wisconsin

No. 14 Illinois: 5 Missouri, 9 Iowa, 10 Minnesota, 13 Rutgers, 17 Nebraska, 31 Wisconsin

No. 15 SD State: 7 Arizona State, 10 Minnesota, 11 UNI, 16 Central Michigan, 19 Wyoming, 20 Oregon State, 27 Pittsburgh

No. 16 Central Michigan: 3 Michigan, 5 Missouri, 8 Virginia Tech, 15 SD State, 26 Buffalo

No. 17 Nebraska: 3 Michigan, 12 NC State, 13 Rutgers, 14 Illinois, 18 North Carolina, 19 Wyoming, 28 Stanford, 31 Wisconsin

No. 18 North Carolina: 5 Missouri, 7 Arizona State, 10 Minnesota, 11 UNI, 12 NC State, 13 Rutgers, 17 Nebraska, 19 Wyoming, 27 Pittsburgh, 29 Virginia, 30 Cornell

Get all of the hottest FloWrestling content!

Sign up for the FloWrestling newsletter for instant access to: breaking news, live events, results, rankings, archived matches and more!

Quick Takes From the Trials

The Trials were awesome. Just awesome. Three days of high-level scrapping for a trip to Worlds (for the Juniors) or Final X.

Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

All Of The Matchups For Final X: Rutgers And Final X: Lincoln

The Final X field is set! All 60 wrestlers competing for a world team spot have been determined.

Junior Finals Preview

null

After a day of the Challenge bracket matches that saw some surprises and some run their expected courses, the Best-of-3 finals are here. Our Junior World Team will be set today. Below is a quick recap of the major developments that took place Friday, and what we can look forward to in the finals.

Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

Senior Men's Freestyle World Team Trials Seeds

USA Wrestling announced the final men's freestyle seeds for this weekend's World Team Trials Challenge Tournament in Raleigh, NC. Final X bids are on the line for the champions at each weight.

Journeymen Pop And Flo National Duals Preview

null

It's time for us to head over to the legendary Herb Brooks Ice Arena in beautiful Lake Placid to watch some of the country's best clubs compete in the Pop and Flo National Duals. We’re going to break down the contenders in the running for a team title this weekend at the miracle on the mat.

Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

Junior Trials Bracket Reactions

Brackets just dropped for the Junior World Team Trials. You can view them here on Arena. Action today goes all the way through the Challenge Tournament finals. Tomorrow the Challenge Tournament Champ will meet the JR US Open Champ in a Best-of-3 series to determine our World Team representative.

Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

FRL 377 - Why Did Nolf Move Up To 74?

FRL 377 discusses Nolf going up to 74kg, world team trials discussion and recruiting class rankings.

Junior World Team Trials Preview

Over the course of the last decade, America has become a force on the World stage at the Junior Division. This weekend a very competitive team we can all get behind will be put together in Raleigh as part of the Trials Challenge Tournament.

Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

The Big, Bad World Team Trials Preview In Men's Freestyle

null

World Team Trials weeks is upon us. By Sunday night, the other half of the Final X field will be set.

Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

6 Men's Freestyle Matches We Need To See

null

At this point, we’ve seen just about every contender in action.