Roman Augustoviz spends Minnesota's winters covering college hockey, specifically the Gophers, and other University of Minnesota sports. During the summer, he writes about the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx, with a dose of U sports sprinkled in. Follow him on Twitter @RomanStrib.

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Four key matches today in U matmen's quest for NCAA title

Posted by: Roman Augustoviz under Sports, Gophers Updated: March 22, 2014 - 10:10 AM

It's a three-team race for the NCAA wrestling title.

Three-time defending champion Penn State has 91 points, two wrestlers in the finals, and five in the wrestlebacks, three in hunt for third, two for seventh.

The Gophers are almost in the exact same spot, with 90.5 points, two in the finals, four in the wrestlebacks going for third, one for seventh.

Then there is homestate favorite Oklahoma State. The Cowboys have four in the finals, one in consolation and 87.5 points.

All three have legitimate shots to win it all.

Here are four key matches that could swing the title race:

At 157 pounds, the final between Dylan Ness of the Gophers and Alex Dieringer of Oklahoma State. Going to be big point swing here. ... Ness came in as ninth seed, but has four wins, the first three by pins. He is 27-6 and hot. Dieeringer, the third seed, is 35-1.

Ness said he expects a great watch. Is willing to take risks. Even go on his back for points, which Dieringer said he would never do. Ness said, whose style has been called funky, said even he doesn't know what he will do on the mat sometimes.

Ness was second as a freshman in the NCAA meet, Dieringer was third last year.

At 165, David Taylor of Penn State, 35-0 and the top seed, faces Tyler Caldwell of Oklahoma State in the final. Another big points swing match. If Cowboys can win both, would sure help their chances. Caldwell is 28-3 and the second seed.

At 174, in the wrestlebacks, Logan Storley of Gophers wrestles Matt Brown of Penn State. Winner advances to third place match. Both are 36-7. Brown is 4-1 in NCAA meet, Storley 3-1.

At heavyweight, Tony Nelson, 34-4 and the top seed, faces second seeded Nick Gwiazdowski of North Carolina State in the finals. He is 46-2. Nelson is going for his third consecutive NCAA title. Nobody in U's rich wrestling history has won three. This is last match of the finals, and if Gophers are close to the lead, Nelson could put them over the top. He said he changed his training regimen after four late-season losses. Worked more on moving his feet, always staying active. Had more 20-30 minute intense workouts, rather than longer, grind-it-out workouts. Nelson calls the G-man from NC State athetic and agile.

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