Another week, another Top 10 opponent; the grind continues for Iowa wrestling in January. Next week brings a bit of a respite -- duals with #14 Minnesota and #20 Northwestern -- but this week Iowa hosts #7 Michigan in a dual with plenty of intrigue. Michigan's only losses on the season were a 27-8 defeat at Lehigh and a 25-12 defeat against Penn State two weeks ago. But Michigan has a strong team with relatively few holes and they match up pretty well with Iowa, so this could be a very close dual. Let's break it down.
all rankings from InterMat
125: #3 Spencer Lee (FR, 9-1) vs #9 Drew Mattin (FR, 16-6)
Another week, another Top 10 test for Lee, fresh off winning a bundle of Wrestler of the Week awards for his big upset over #1 Nathan Tomasello last week. Mattin, like Lee, is having a very good true freshman season and he's also coming off a win over a Top 10 opponent last week (a 4-2 overtime win over #6 Ethan Lizak). Mattin does have six losses, though, several with fairly lopsided margins (two 7-point decision defeats and a pair of major decision losses). I think Lee works his magic on the mat and gets bonus points here.
PREDICTION: Lee via MAJ DEC (IOWA 4-0)
133: Paul Glynn (SO, 6-6) vs #5 Stevan Micic (SO, 13-2)
Glynn is once again the only option at 133 listed in the Match Notes, so perhaps he's firmly wrested control of that spot. He has another major challenge this week, though, facing #5 Micic, who has won his last eight matches in a row and has bonus points in 11 of 13 wins this year. Glynn held #2 Luke Pletcher to a regular decision last week, but Micic is more proficient at getting bonus and I think he'll earn a major decision here.
PREDICTION: Micic via MAJ DEC (TIE 4-4)
141: Vince Turk (SO, 6-5) OR Carter Happel (RS FR, 10-7) vs Sal Profaci (SO, 10-8)
This is the first toss-up match of the dual and given Michigan's strength elsewhere (particularly in the upper weights), this is one Iowa probably needs to grab. Turk and Happel have had their hands full lately, but Profaci is a chance for one of them to get back on the winning track. That said, he's a solid opponent, so they'll need to be sharp to pull this one out.
PREDICTION: Happel via DEC (IOWA 7-4)
149: #2 Brandon Sorensen (SR, 15-0) vs #19 Malik Amine (JR, 12-7) OR Ben Lamantia (SO, 10-3)
This could be an opportunity for bonus points for Sorensen (especially if Lamantia is his opponent, as he's spent most of the season at 141), although Amine has only given up bonus point in one of his seven losses this season. Still, Sorensen has the ability to put up points in a hurry and wear out an opponent like Amine -- he just can't afford to get sucked into a low-scoring match. I would love to see a major or better from Brandon here, but I fear something like a 9-4 decision seems more likely.
PREDICTION: Sorensen via DEC (IOWA 10-4)
157: #2 Michael Kemerer (SO, 16-0) vs #7 Alec Pantaleo (JR, 10-4)
The middle weights in this dual will be pivotal, as both Iowa and Michigan have some of their best wrestlers at 157 and 165. Pantaleo has mostly looked pretty strong in his first season up at 157 and looked particularly impressive in only dropping a 6-4 decision to #1 Jason Nolf a few weeks ago. He also has wins over #5 Micah Jordan (10-3) and #8 Tyler Berger (9-3). The big question for Kemerer might be his health -- he faded in the third period last week against Jordan and looked like he might have been in some pain coming off the mat. He'll need to be at his best to beat Pantaleo. I think he'll wring a decision victory out of the match.
PREDICTION: Kemerer via DEC (IOWA 13-4)
165: #9 Alex Marinelli (RS FR, 9-0) vs #8 Taylor Massa (SO, 9-3) OR Reece Hughes (FR, 2-3)
This could be another pivotal swing bout in the dual -- if Massa wrestles. The Match Notes also list Hughes and if he goes, I'd expect Marinelli to get an easy win and score some bonus points for Iowa. Last year Massa looked like he was right at the level of #1 Vincenzo Joseph and #2 Isaiah Martinez at this weight, but he's hit a rough patch this year, missing time due to injury and losing his last three bouts in a row, including a 12-3 loss to Joseph and a 14-8 loss to Minnesota's Nick Wanzek. I feel like Marinelli is wrestling with a lot of confidence right now and the CHA crowd should be firmly behind him as well. I think his relentless pressure will help him break down Massa and get a win, especially with Massa not in good form right now.
PREDICTION: Marinelli via DEC (IOWA 16-4)
174: Joey Gunther (SO, 11-3) or Kaleb Young (RS FR, 9-5) vs #6 Myles Amine (SO, 14-5)
Young was a surprise starter at Ohio State last week, but he acquitted himself well against #3 Bo Jordan, battling to the end of a 10-5 decision loss. Will he get another shot this week? If so, he'll get another Top 10 opponent in Amine, who enters the match with wins in five of his last seven matches. Amine has a slight head-scratcher loss to #12 Dylan Lydy (Purdue), but otherwise his losses have all been against Top 10 opponents. I don't see an upset for Iowa here, but I do think they can hold him to a decision.
PREDICTION: Amine via DEC (IOWA 16-7)
184: #20 Mitch Bowman (JR, 10-4) vs #5 Domenic Abounader (SR, 15-3)
Bowman dropped a 17-8 major decision to #2 Myles Martin last week, but that was down mostly to a disastrous first period when he found himself down 12-1. He battled back very well after that and was the more aggressive and active wrestler in the third period by far. The plan this week should be to avoid falling into an early 11-point hole. Abounader isn't quite the explosive threat that Martin is, but he's very good in all positions and he can be very dangerous on the mat. 12 of his 15 wins have been via bonus points, including his last eight in a row. I think Bowman will be very game, but Abounader looks like a really tough match-up.
PREDICTION: Abounader via MAJ DEC (IOWA 16-11)
197: #5 Cash Wilcke (SO, 13-2) vs Jackson Striggow (SO, 14-7) OR #14 Kevin Beazley (SR, 11-4)
Another weight where Michigan lists a few options, so we'll have to wait and see who hits the mat in the dual. Striggow has started a few matches here lately and was the main starter at this weight last year, going 12-13 and losing twice against Wilcke (5-2 at the dual, 2-1 at the Big Ten Tournament). If Beazley takes the match he'll be a threat to pin -- six of his 11 wins this year have been via fall. This is a match Iowa really needs to get, especially if they suffer a defeat in the middle weights. I think Wilcke will get a much-needed win after a few tough weeks against Top 3 opponents.
PREDICTION: Wilcke via DEC (IOWA 19-11)
285: #3 Sam Stoll (JR, 12-0) vs #2 Adam Coon (SR, 18-0)
On paper, this is the match of the dual. It could be the seventh of 10 matches to feature two ranked opponents (depending on whether Michigan starts all of their ranked wrestlers or not here) and it's by far the highest-ranked match-up on the board with the potential for #2 (Coon) vs #3 (Stoll). Of course, we also have to ask whether Stoll will start too -- he's sat out a few matches for precautionary reasons this season, including last week against Kyle Snyder. Considering that his last two seasons ended prematurely due to knee injuries, that wariness is understandable, if disappointing when it results in Iowa fans not being able to see a Top 10 showdown at heavyweight. Will dual circumstances play a role in deciding who wrestles for Iowa here? If Iowa is up (or down) by more than six points, will Brands opt not to risk Stoll? It's hard to say. But I'm going to assume that Stoll will wrestle here. He's never faced Coon before, but Coon is an excellent heavyweight. If not for some guy named Kyle Snyder, he'd be the heavy favorite at this weight in the Big Ten and nationally. I think he'll be able to score on Stoll and get a win for the Wolverines.
PREDICTION: Coon via DEC (IOWA 19-14)
As you can see, the only certainty for this dual is... uncertainty. Michigan lists multiple options at three weights and Iowa does the same at two weights; while Iowa's options there wouldn't change the result of the dual much (there isn't a lot of difference between Glynn or Laux or between Gunther or Young), the dual could swing for Iowa in a big way if some of Michigan's back-ups see the mat instead of their highly-ranked starters. This is a dual with the potential for seven matches between ranked wrestlers and four between two Top 10 opponents, so the margins could be thin -- upsets and bonus points could be critical here. It would be nice for Iowa to get back on the winning track after last week's tough loss, but Michigan won't make it easy.