Watchdog

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Madison Square Garden goes to mat

Cornell's Kyle Dake reacts after beating Penn State's

Cornell's Kyle Dake reacts after beating Penn State's Frank Molinaro in their 149-pound finals match at the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships in Philadelphia. (Credit: AP, 2011)

Historic week at the Garden! But no, it is not because of Wednesday’s benefit mega-concert or Thursday’s Lakers-Knicks showdown. That sort of stuff is old hat at the World’s Most Famous Arena.

Now for something completely different: On Sunday, MSG for the first time in its 133-year history will host . . . college wrestling?

“We are always looking to do the biggest and best in sports and entertainment, and looking for new opportunities all the time,’’ said Joel Fisher, MSG's executive vice president for sports.

Fisher said the “Grapple at the Garden,’’ which will feature 14 teams in two sets of dual meets, including Hofstra and several of the top-ranked teams in the nation, was inspired in part by the success of college hockey in the building.

In 2007, the Garden hoped a Cornell-Boston University game would draw perhaps 10,000 to 12,000. But it sold out, as have three other Cornell games on Thanksgiving weekends since then.

“We foresee hopefully the same thing happening with college wrestling,’’ Fisher said. But initial expectations are modest. A crowd of 7,000 to 8,000 is expected.

Among the event’s attractions is Cornell senior Kyle Dake, the first wrestler to win NCAA championships in three different weight classes.

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