WHO: #20 Rutgers Scarlet Knights (7-3, 1-1 Big Ten)
WHEN: Friday, January 18, 2019
START TIME: 8:00 PM CT
WHERE: Carver-Hawkeye Arena (Iowa City, IA)
RADIO: Hawkeye All-Access; AM 800 near Iowa City or iHeart Radio (online)
The Big Ten dual season rolls on tonight, as Iowa welcomes Rutgers to cold and snowy Iowa City for some wrestling action at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Scarlet Knights are ranked 20th in the nation, but they'll still be an interesting threat for the Hawkeyes, based on match-ups. Rutgers has two excellent wrestlers (#3 Nick Suriano at 133 and #2 Anthony Ashnault at 149) and while Iowa has good wrestlers at those weights (Austin Desanto and Pat Lugo, respectively), they'll certainly be underdogs against Rutgers' studs. Likewise, there are a few toss-up matches (174 and 285) that might edge Rutgers' way given Iowa's weakness at those weights. Iowa should be favored in the remaining matches (and ought to get bonus points in a few of them), but an upset here or there could make things interesting.
The highlight of the night is certainly at 133, where Suriano is set to take on DeSanto, up to #8 in the rankings now. Tom Brands is so jazzed about the match, he has a bold idea about how BTN should broadcast it:
No thanks, Tom! Cable bills are expensive enough, thank you very much.
Suriano, last year's NCAA finalist at 125 lbs, is 14-1 on the season and should be DeSanto's toughest match of the season and his biggest challenge since... well, his last match, against Minnesota's Ethan Lizak last Sunday. But Suriano looks like an even more imposing threat than Lizak, due to how strong he is in all positions and his near-impenetrable defense from neutral -- Suriano didn't give up a takedown on his way to the finals at 125 last year (though Iowa's Spencer Lee managed to solve that particular problem in their NCAA finals match) and he hasn't really missed a beat since moving up to 133 lbs this year. He is fresh off his first loss of the season -- a 3-2 loss to Oklahoma State phenom Daton Fix in tiebreakers that was decided by a hands to the face penalty (ugh) -- but DeSanto will have to be at his very best to make it two losses in a row.
DeSanto will need to be patient against Suriano, but also should use his non-stop motor to push the tempo and try to tire Suriano out. As he said to Hawk Central this week:
“My lungs have always been huge for my wrestling,” DeSanto said this week. “So using that to my advantage to push the pace is always my goal.”
I expect takedowns to be at a premium in this match, so DeSanto will need to be on guard and avoid putting himself in bad positions to allow Suriano to score easily. In fact, my biggest question about this match is if DeSanto can get a takedown on Suriano or not. It won't be easy. If he does prove that he can get a takedown on Suriano... [whistles] well, then it's time to get really, really excited about what DeSanto can do this year.
|125||#2 Spencer Lee (10-1, SO)||Shane Metzler (SO, 7-9)||Lee via TF (IOWA 5-0)|
|133||#8 Austin DeSanto (11-1, SO)||#3 Nick Suriano (JR, 14-1)||Suriano via DEC (IOWA 5-3)|
|141||#15 Max Murin (9-3, RS FR)||
Michael Van Brill (SO, 4-4) /
Peter Lipari (JR, 6-7)
|Murin via DEC (IOWA 8-3)|
|149||#12 Pat Lugo (8-5, JR)||#2 Anthony Ashnault (SR, 15-0)||Ashnault via DEC (IOWA 8-6)|
|157||#5 Kaleb Young (12-1, SO)||
#14 John Van Brill (SR, 13-7) /
Jake Benner (FR, 6-5)
|Young via DEC (IOWA 11-6)|
|165||#2 Alex Marinelli (12-0, SO)||Stephan Glasgow (RS FR, 5-4)||Marinelli via MD (IOWA 15-6)|
|174||Mitch Bowman (4-3, SR)||
Joseph Grello (SO, 9-5) /
Willie Scott (JR, 13-4)
|Grello via DEC (IOWA 15-9)|
|184||#13 Cash Wilcke (11-2, JR)||#17 Nick Gravina (SR, 2-1)||Wilcke via DEC (IOWA 18-9)|
|197||#5 Jacob Warner (7-2, RS FR)||Matt Correnti (SO, 11-7)||Warner via DEC (IOWA 21-9)|
|285||Aaron Costello (6-4, RS FR)||Christian Colucci (JR, 9-7)||Colucci via DEC (IOWA 21-12)|
A few thoughts:
There's been a lot of hand-wringing from folks (myself included!) about Spencer Lee's form in his two most recent matches, but it's worth noting that they've both been against two very good opponents (who both have past experience against Lee as well). Shane Metzler is not in that category, so I think Spencer will get back on the bonus point track tonight.
I dearly hope DeSanto can spring the upset on Suriano -- that would be one of the most electrifying moments in Carver in a while -- but my head says Suriano is still a cut above ADS and he's going to grind out a win.
Murin has lost two matches in a row, but I think he'll get back on track tonight against Lipari or the younger Van Brill. Bonus points would be nice, but I think Murin will have to settle for a solid 4-5 point decision win instead.
Ashnault-Lugo is the other marquee match of the evening and it's another chance for Lugo to claim a big win. He came up short in both of his chances against Princeton's Matthew Kolodzik (ranked #1 at this weight) earlier this year and I think Ashnault will be a bit too much for him as well. Ashnault spent his first three years at 141 lbs, before getting injured and missing all of last season and then moving up to 149 this year. He's 15-0 so far this 11 bonus point wins, including seven pins. Lugo better bring his A-game to the mat for this one.
Young had the most electrifying win of the dual last time out and he should get an interesting test from the elder Van Brill this time out. Well, maybe -- Van Brill lost 9-2 to Young's Iowa teammate Jaren Glosser at Midlands, so theoretically if Iowa's backup can do that to him, Iowa's starter out to do pretty well, too...
Glasgow has only lost one match via bonus points this year... but he also hasn't faced any Top 5 wrestlers at 165 until now, either. I think Marinelli will take care of business and get bonus points for Iowa here as well. A tech or a pin wouldn't shock me, frankly, but I erred on the side of being more conservative and projected a major decision win instead.
174 is one of the bigger toss-up weights in the dual, though it probably leans Rutgers at this point. Grello and Scott have both been pretty solid on the year, while Bowman is still finding his feet at his new weight. I'll say this: if we get the Bowman we saw in the third period against Minnesota's Devin Skatza for the entire match this time out, he can absolutely win the bout. At this point I need to see a win from Bowman here before I'll pick it to happen, though.
184 is another weight that's close to a tossup, with Wilcke being a slight favorite over Gravina. Gravina hasn't wrestled much this year (just three matches), so Wilcke should try and push the pace here and wear him out. He also needs to avoid letting Gravina get on top of him -- he's nasty in top position, but not particularly great from neutral. If Wilcke wrestles smart and plays to his strengths, I think he takes this bout.
This could be a potential bonus points match for Iowa if Warner is sharp, but Warner frankly hasn't been that sharp lately, so it's hard to expect bonus points here. Correnti also kept things close (lost a 4-2 decision) in his previous match against Okie State's Dakota Geer (ranked #10), so he's not a pushover. I think Warner takes a 3-4 point decision here.
- Finally, who knows what to expect out of 285? Costello is listed here, but he was listed here before the Minnesota dual and Connor Corbin ended up wrestling. Rutgers doesn't have a top-flight heavyweight right now, either, but I'm going to give Colucci the benefit of the doubt against Iowa's mystery box at this weight.
The dual gets underway at 8 PM and has live coverage on BTN. I'll provide results and feedback in the comments, but feel free to join in, too!
The usual rules apply.