In an effort to keep fans engaged and in their seats — or watching on TV at home — the NCAA will shake up the match order for Saturday’s wrestling championship finals.
The exact order of the final matches won’t be determined until after Friday night’s semifinals.
“You always save the best for last,” said Minnesota coach J Robinson. “In the arts, the best artist sings at the end, and that’s what everybody stays around to watch. That’s what we want.”
The 2014 NCAA Wrestling Championships kick off Thursday morning inside Chesapeake Energy Arena. The event has sold out four consecutive years and is expected to draw another impressive crowd this time.
The entire event will be nationally telecast, with the semifinals and finals on ESPN and all other rounds on ESPNU.
Last year, the NCAA changed the final match schedule for the first time, but only by determining which match would be the finale, allowing most of the finals to still go in order of weight class.
With the change this year, the NCAA is even encouraging fans to participate in the discussion by giving their opinions on Facebook and Twitter.
“I think it’s a great idea,” said OSU coach John Smith. “I think we ought to continue to do it. There’s highlight matches, and we need to try to expose those highlight matches at the right time.”
Theoretically, the wrestlers impacted most by this change would be the heavyweights, who traditionally go last. Minnesota’s Tony Nelson, though, said the match order doesn’t matter to him.
“It’s a little different than last year, but you have to be able to wrestle whenever,” said Nelson, the top-seeded heavyweight. “A full day sitting around is not really going to make a big difference; wherever you wrestle you have to be ready to make a difference.