IOWA CITY – When the University of Iowa and Minnesota stare each other down on the mat, they should be able to recognize somewhat of a mirror image.
The two college wrestling powers have a comparable philosophy and mentality in competition, reflecting the traits of their respective head coaches.
"I think there is a similar coaching style," Iowa Coach Tom Brands said about Gophers head coach J. Robinson. "I think it's physical, hustle, attitude and toughness.
"I think their coaching staff is about toughness. J. Robinson has been about toughness his whole life. I think there are a lot of similarities there. I think that leads to certain things that are similar when you watch the wrestling."
Second-ranked Iowa hosts No. 4 Minnesota in a Big Ten Conference dual Saturday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The dual will be televised on BTN, beginning at 1 p.m. The Hawkeyes are 11-1, including a 4-0 conference mark, and Minnesota is 7-1 overall, coming off Sunday's 19-14 loss to No. 12 Michigan.
The aggressive and physical styles seem to suit each team well, promising plenty of action. Wrestlers better have their chinstraps and their shoestrings cinched tight.
"It's exciting because you know you're not going to have to chase someone around," Iowa 133-pound senior Tony Ramos said. "At the same time, you have to be ready for a fight because you know they're coming out to fight and battle every position."
Iowa volunteer assistant coach Ben Berhow wrestled heavyweight for Minnesota, serving as an administrative assistant on Robinson's staff the last two years. He said he watched the rivalry as a kid in Minnesota.
"It's a special rivalry and it's great for the sport of wrestling," Berhow said. "Two real tough-minded programs with similar coaching philosophies, scoring a lot of points (and) making it exciting."
Being familiar with the opponent's approach does not affect preparation. It doesn't get easier, facing someone with the same tendencies. The focus remains on improving and developing individual strengths for the Hawkeyes.
"It's more about us doing what we can do to the opponent," Brands said. "It's always that way. Some programs want to strategize, according to their opponent. We want to use what we do well and put it on our opponent."
The Hawkeyes are coming off a 22-9 win over No. 10 Nebraska. Iowa won seven matches and have won 43 of 50 matches in five duals in January. It includes a 35-5 match record in conference duals. Brands said there are more positives than negatives, but the goal is consistently performing at the highest level all the time.
"We march to that beat and we don't make it a secret," Brands said. "Our guys pick up on that and they embrace it, so let's do a better job."
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