Every week, I try to say something about how awesome the week is. How about 1v2 in Carver? That does all the selling, doesn’t it? If that’s not enough for you, there’s gonna be three more duals on BTN this weekend.
I do want to rant for a second about how dumb it is that this dual means basically nothing. Dual formats are awesome, they get casual fans into wrestling, they give us a reason to cheer for our schools and not just the guys who go there. But being the best dual team gets you jack-all at the end of the year. Why can’t we just declare a dual champion and give them a trophy at the end of the regular season? Would it ruin the integrity of the sport or something if we had two team champions for two different formats in one sport? Anyways, let’s get ready for an awesome weekend of wrestling. Sorry for the rant.
#11 Minnesota Gophers at #4 Michigan Wolverines, Friday at 6PM on BTN
WSR: So this is a thing we’re doing, huh? Well if we must....
The Gophers have good/great wrestlers at 125, 157, and HWT. Michigan also has good/great wrestlers at all of these weights and I would strongly recommend watching #1 AND AMERICAN OLYMPIC HERO GABLE BY GOD STEVESON v. #4 Parris as well as #4 Lee vs. #14 Lewan. But #1 Suriano vs. #9 McKee at 125 probably won’t be pretty and I feel like that’s a great metaphor for the rest of the meet. Minnesota only has two other guys ranked in Intermat’s top 20, and that would be a #15 ranking for Jake Bergeland and #20 ranking for Bailee O’Rielly. Their rewards? They probably get to see #4 Stevan Micic at 141 and #6 Logan Massa at 174. Why is this happening and why don’t some adults step in and stop the abuse?
The Gophers have a realistic chance to get some points at 149, with Michael Blockhus being better than everything Michigan has thrown out at 149...except for Kanen Storr, who’s been out injured since he got hurt at Cliff Keen and...OH COME ON. This better not be foreshadowing:
This is bullshit. We’re not great and this could be a very ugly dual meet.
#1 Penn State Nittany Lions at #2 Iowa Hawkeyes, Friday at 8PM on BTN
Atinat: Ho-boy. This is gonna be fun. Objectively, I mean. This could hurt for me. The matchups this Friday are 7v11, 1v3, 1v2, 19v10, NRv12, 11v5, 1v2, 1v17, 2v4, 2v5. That is nuts. Four number ones, four number ones, and nineteen total ranked wrestlers. On paper, by Intermat rankings, Penn State is favored in seven matches. But let’s really dive into this.
First, Ayala and Hildebrandt. These two have not wrestled a common opponent this year. Ayala has notable victories over Schroder, DeAugustino, Cardani, and Mizzou’s #14 Noah Surtin, while Hildebrandt has only a ranked win over #29 Dylan Shawver, but only a loss to #1 Nick Suriano. Ayala lost to #10 Malik Heinselman and thrice lost to #9 Pat McKee. I’ve watched a lot of Ayala, and if he can get to his offense, he’ll win this match. And before last weekend, I would have said he’d do that. Now, I’m not so sure. Still, 3-0 Iowa. Now, DeSanto and Bravo-Young. Bravo-Young is the undefeated defending national champion, and he’s also defeated DeSanto in their last three meetings. So, what can DeSanto do to right the ship? He’s been working his opposite-side single leg attacks this year, but hasn’t looked terrific doing it. In order to get to RBY, he has to get to that once or twice in order to get RBY to drop his right arm and open up for that fireman’s series. That’s a tall task. 3-3.
Last year, Eierman won his first match with Nick Lee at Big Ten Championships, giving up a first period takedown before getting his own and riding out the period, then giving up another in the third but escaping and winning the bout 6-5. Then, in the national championship, Lee had the only takedown in regulation and another in sudden victory to win 4-2. So, obviously, Eierman needs to get to his own offense this year. Can he do that? Frankly, Eierman hasn’t looked very sharp this year, but like DeSanto, I think it’s been because he has been workshopping other stuff. Unfortunately, also like DeSanto, I think he comes up short. 6-3, PSU.
I have Iowa favored kind of comfortably in the next three matches. Murin and Bartlett have never wrestled, but Murin has looked good recently, and I think there’s enough confidence there to get him an important victory Friday. The only common foe this year is the 6-5 Manzona Bryant of Lehigh, who both weirdly lost to. 6-6 tie after 149. Iowa’s best chances for bonus points come at the next two weights. At 157, Kaleb Young has looked good and Terrell Barraclough hasn’t. Indeed, Barraclough is probably the weakest link on the Nittany Lion squad, and the only one not likely to qualify for NCAAs. The two don’t have any common foes this year, but over their careers, Young is 4-0 and Barraclough is 0-3 against Chase Saldate, Will Lewan, and Army’s Markus Hartman. Still, Young isn’t one for bonus points, so I have us at 9-6 Iowa at the break. Marinelli and Berge also have no common foes this year, and this one could end up being kind of close. That said, Marinelli is gonna come out with a hunger and an understanding of how important this match is, and he’s going to win. 12-6 Iowa.
So, we get to the backstretch. The 47-1 part of the Penn State lineup. And if I’m right, Iowa needs to add at least one more to the loss column to get this dual. Can they do it? Kemerer beat Starocci 7-2 in the Big Ten Championship bout last year, but lost 3-1 in sudden victory in the national title rematch. Simply put, Kemerer has proven himself able to take Starocci down, and I still haven’t seen enough evidence to convince me that Starocci can consistently return the favor. So, hate on me all you want, I have Iowa up 15-6 here. Tiebreakers aren’t very fun, though, so let’s find either a bonus point or an upset in the last three.
Penn State’s best, and maybe only, chance for bonus points comes at 184, where Aaron Brooks gets a crack at Abe Assad. The two wrestled at the dual meet in 2020, with Brooks coming out on top 7-3. I think both wrestlers have improved since then, but the score probably stays the same. They have no common opponents thus far this year, but Brooks has a better record all-time. Bonus points though? Probably not. 15-9 Iowa.
Max Dean is coming off a loss to #10 Cam Caffey, while Warner hasn’t seen a top opponent yet this year, losing only to #16 Yonger Bastida of Iowa State. These two haven’t wrestled before, and both are defensive and cautious wrestlers, so expect a slow-paced match as they feel each other out. I have Dean favored in such a match, so unless Warner comes out swinging, let’s say 15-12 Iowa.
And finally, at heavyweight, we have Big Tony Cassioppi against star freshman Greg Kerkvliet, the latter coming off a big win against Mason Parris. Cass won their only career matchup, a 9-0 major decision at Big Tens last year. This year, though, Kerkvliet has gone on a tear. The third-year freshman is 11-0 on the year, only failing to get bonus points against #17 Lewis Fernandes of Cornell back in December and #4 Mason Parris last Friday. His only other ranked match was a 16-0 tech fall of #9 Gary Traub, who has also had a big year. Cassioppi, on the other hand, has had some growing pains. He famously lost a ton of weight in the offseason, and lost his first match of the year by fall to Jack DelGarbino of Princeton, for whom that’s been the only attached match. Since then, he’s 9-1, beating #7 Jordan Wood, #8 Matt Stencel (INJ), #10 Lucas Davison, #13 Tate Orndorff (MD), #16 Luke Luffman (FALL), #21 Sam Schuyler (DQ), and #33 Michael Woulfe (FALL). So, can Big Tony get up for this one? Will Kerkvliet have a letdown after his big win? I’m gonna say yes, but for two reasons: it’s in Carver, and I don’t want to predict a tie. Give me the Hawkeyes, 18-12. I hope.
Who’s the best dual team in the country?
This poll is closed
#13 Wisconsin Badgers at Maryland Terrapins, Friday at 6PM on BTN+
Kind of...: Cool. As much shit as Maryland takes—most of it deserved—that actually sets up some solid matchups. Eric Barnett should honestly get at least five points at 125, but Maryland is probably a slight favorite at 133. Both King Sandoval and Kyle Burwick could use the win to improve their at-large profile. The Badgers should win comfortably at 141, 149, 157, 165, and 174 with bonus points seemingly guaranteed at 149 and 165 and possible in each bout.
However, the upper weights are worth some attention. WrestleStat has #11 Kyle Cochran as an underdog to Chris Weiler and I just don’t see it. Weiler is no slouch, but he’s also a middle-of-the-pack B1G wrestler. The win over Purdue’s Max Lyon was nice, but it’s his only win of note this year. 197 is a gut check for Braxton Amos. #32 Jaron Smith is perfectly credible, but if Amos can’t beat him, then the “he’s close and has only lost to really good opponents” argument is out the window for Amos. He really needs to show some explosion on offense. Finally, Trent Hillger should beat Kyle Schrader, but he’ll have to earn it.
I see UW winning eight out of ten, losing only at 133 and 184. I’ll call it 35-6 with plenty of Badger bonus points.
Purdue Boilermakers at Indiana Hoosiers, Saturday at 11AM on BTN
HWAHSQB: The hotly contested battle for the Old Oaken Singlet takes place this Saturday on BTN!!! This exciting matchup gives us TWO!! big matchups of ranked grapplers. Indinia will be favored in both of those bouts, but unfortunately for the makers of hosiery, the makers of trains will be favored in six of the others and then we have a pair of brothers for Indiana involved in a pair of tossups.
Squaring off in the ranked matchups are #11 Brock Hudkins against talented third year freshman, #31 Matt Ramos at 133. At 184, toeing the line will be another talented third year freshman, #14 Donnell Washington across from battled tested super senior #30 Max Lyon.
The tossups are at 141 and 149, where Cayden and Graham Rooks go for the Hoosiers against Parker Filius and Trey Kruse for the Boilermakers. I think they split those matches where 149 Rooks bro wins and 141 Rooks bro drops one.
I think Purdue takes 7 matches, picks up a few bonus points and wins 25-10.
#25 Northwestern Wildcats at Illinois Fighting Illini, Saturday at 1PM on BTN
HWAHSQB: Last weekend, I made a new dish. I took a cheesy hash brown recipe and added chopped onion and green pepper, diced jalapenos, and chunks of double smoked ham and it was amazing.
What’s that? I have to talk about the wrestling match Saturday. Ugh, I don’t want to write about Nern beating Illinois. Can I just talk about the HAT game instead? No? Ok, (heavy sigh) Here goes.
There are likely going to be numerous matches that aren’t close as Northwestern’s strongest weights are Illinois’ weakest. There are five matches that clearly favor the Wildcats, three that favor Illinois, and two tossups. Even if Illinois wins both tossups, they probably don’t take the dual as the purple kitties will probably get more bonus.
The matchups to watch include 125 where a regressing Cardani takes on an improving DeAugustino and 133 has a top ten matchup of #6 Lucas Byrd against #9 Chris Cannon. Byrd handled Cannon fairly easily in two matches last year 7-1 and 4-1 and I think the gap has widened, but we will see. Other ranked matchups are at 197, and HWT. At 197, you have #29 Andrew Davidson for Nern and #30 Matt Wroblewski for Illinois in an important match for seeding/qualification purposes. Wroblewski has never come close to Davidson in two matches and that won’t change Saturday. At HWT, we have the battle of Lukes with Lucas Davison at #10 donning the purple singlet against #16 Luke Luffman. Davison should have no trouble here. 165 is somewhat interesting as Danny Braunagel tries to bounce back from an embarrassing defeat last week to Purdue’s Hayden Lohrey that knocked him out of the rankings. He goes against #30 David Ferrante. Last year, Braunagel came just shy of teching Ferrante in the dual, but lost badly in both tournaments, but he was wrestling with a broken hand in the losses. He needs to bounce back if Ilinois has any hope here.
I don’t have a good feeling here for my beloved orange and blue. I’m predicting 24-10 Northwestern.
This poll is closed
#4 Michigan at Maryland, Sunday at 1PM on BTN+
Atinat: And now, the least enticing dual of the weekend! We still love you, Maryland. Wrestlers who can win for Maryland... King Sandoval against Dylan Ragusin? Probably not. Michael North against Patrick Nolan? Maybe. Jaron Smith against Pat Brucki? Yeah, no. Michigan 41-0. Chose that number kind of randomly. And by kind of, I mean 30 points for 10 victories and then a random number of bonus points. What do you want me to say? I wrote a thousand words on Iowa-PSU and then had to look at this shit. Good luck to both sides, of course.
Drop your Iowa-Penn State predictions in the comments! And other duals if you want, I guess.