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Michigan's Big Ten Championship to lose

BY IAN MURPHY | FEBRUARY 26, 2015 5:00 AM

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The Michigan men’s swimming and diving team has historically dominated the Big Ten, with 38 team titles to its name, and barring a full collapse, the Wolverines will win their fifth-consecutive title this season.

Although they did not win a relay event last night, the Maize and Blue are deep enough to overcome the minimal deficit and raise the trophy on Saturday evening.

With such stars as Dylan Bosch, the defending NCAA champion in the 200 butterfly, and such solid sprinters as Bruno Ortiz and Paul Powers, the Wolverines are too deep for any team in the Big Ten to overcome, and they are perennial top-five finishers at the NCAAs.

The top three in the Big Ten are relatively certain. Ohio State has enough speed to take second, and pencil Indiana in for third.

The bottom three can also be penciled in. The Wolverine’s counterparts — Michigan State — are almost certainly going to finish at the bottom.

Northwestern finished ninth last year and doesn’t have much to work with this season outside of Jordan Wilimovsky, one of the best distance swimmers in the country. Purdue is in a down year and can be put in the eighth spot.

From fourth to seventh, however, things get interesting among Iowa, Minnesota, Penn State, and Wisconsin.

“Our plan … is to move on up and contend for titles,” Iowa head coach Marc Long said. “It’s going to be a really exciting meet, very, very intense.”

Things could go according to plan for Long and Company. The Hawkeyes are primed to move up in the conference because Minnesota graduated the best sprinter in the conference from a season ago, and Penn State graduated two stellar sprinters.

The Hawkeyes also scored third place in the 200-medley relay, a step in the right direction from the eighth-place finish a season ago.

The Badgers match up well with the Hawkeyes and are deeper in the 200 freestyle, as evidenced by their second-place in the 800-freestyle relay Wednesday, where three of the four swimmers returned from the Badgers’ 2014 relay.

“I think we’re doing really well,” senior Chris Freeman said. “We’ve been doing really well all season.”

Penn State will get a big points boost in the 100 backstroke from Nate Savoy and Shane Ryan, who finished first and second in the event last year. Iowa will counter with senior Grant Betulius, who is currently the No. 1 backstroker in the Big Ten.

Essentially, fourth through seventh is a toss-up, and perhaps junior David Ernstsson said it best: “I think this is going to be one hell of a meet.”

Follow @IanFromIowa for news, updates, and analysis on the Iowa men’s swimming and diving team.


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