#4 Iowa vs Northwestern: Preview + Open Thread

By RossWB on January 27, 2019 at 9:00 am
go spencer go

WHO: Northwestern Wildcats (3-6, 1-3 Big Ten)
WHEN: Sunday, January 27, 2019
WHERE: Welsh-Ryan Arena (Evanston, IL)
TV: none
ONLINE: BTN Plus ($) or Flowrestling ($)
RADIO: Hawkeye All-Access; AM 800 near Iowa City or iHeart Radio (online)

Iowa wrestling's double header with the Big Ten's Land of Lincoln representatives wraps up this weekend with a dual meet against Northwestern. There shouldn't be much doubt about the outcome -- Iowa is 9-0 while Northwestern is 3-6 and the Wildcats could be starting as many as five wrestlers with win-loss records that are .500 or worse. So I'm expecting a lot of Iowa wins in this dual and quite possibly a lot of Iowa bonus points. 

That said, there's still one match of enormous interest on this dual: at 125 lbs, where #1 Sebastian Rivera will take on #2 Spencer Lee. Rivera engineered one of the shock results of the season when he knocked off Lee 7-3 in the finals at the Midlands Championship a month ago. There was nothing fluky about Rivera's win -- he attacked Lee well throughout the match and finished his shots crisply, preventing Lee from turning those attacks into the type of scramble situations where he so often prevails. Rivera prevented Lee from getting to his own legs or finishing any shots, which had the added bonus of keeping Lee out of top position for the most part.

We'll find out today what adjustments Spencer has made against Rivera. After the loss, Spencer indicated that he wasn't aggressive enough and he didn't put Rivera under enough pressure; he's right about that. Lee needs to start quicker than he did in their match in December and put Rivera under pressure. He can't sit back and wait for Rivera to initiate the offense because, as we saw in December, when he does that Rivera is perfectly capable of taking that advantage and converting it into takedowns and points. Rivera's performance in December was hugely impressive and you'd certainly be a fool to think he couldn't knock off Lee again... but Spencer has looked sharp his last few matches, he's coming into this match with something to prove, and I think he'll get his win back. Just in time for them to likely do it again in six weeks at the Big Ten Tournament. 

125 #2 Spencer Lee (12-1, SO) #1 Sebastian Rivera (17-0, SO) Lee via DEC (IOWA 3-0)
133 #4 Austin DeSanto (12-1, SO) / 
Paul Gynn (7-4, JR)
Colin Valdiviez (SO, 12-9) DeSanto via MD (IOWA 7-0)
141 #15 Max Murin (10-4, RS FR) Alec McKenna (JR, 6-7) Murin via MD (IOWA 11-0)
149 #13 Pat Lugo (9-6, JR) Shane Oster (JR, 8-7) / 
Yahya Thomas (RS FR, 11-7)
Lugo via MD (IOWA 15-0)
157 #5 Kaleb Young (13-2, SO) #3 Ryan Deakin (18-2, SO) Deakin via DEC (IOWA 15-3)
165 #2 Alex Marinelli (14-0, SO) Tyler Morland (RS FR, 2-3) Marinelli via FALL (IOWA 21-3)
174 Mitch Bowman (4-4, SR) / 
Keegan Shaw (13-4, JR)
Johnny Sebastian (SR, 5-5) Sebastian via DEC (IOWA 21-6)
184 #13 Cash Wilcke (12-3, JR) Brendan Devine (FR, 0-13) Wilcke via MD (IOWA 25-6)
197 #5 Jacob Warner (9-2, RS FR) Zach Chakonis (JR, 3-12) Warner via MD (IOWA 29-6)
285 #3 Sam Stoll (5-0, SR) /
Aaron Costello (6-4, RS FR)
#15 Conan Jennings (SR, 11-7) Stoll via DEC (IOWA 32-6)

A few thoughts: 

  • Outside of Lee-Rivera the most interesting match on the card is at 157, which is another Midlands final rematch. Ryan Deakin won that bout 6-2. Unfortunately, Deakin-Young II lost some luster when Young got upset by Illinois' Eric Barone on Friday night. The Young we saw in that match (and, frankly, in several of his recent matches) has no prayer of beating Deakin. Let's hope we see a more active Young in this match and that he's able to produce a compelling bounce-back performance. 
  • Murin and Wilcke were the other Iowa wrestlers who lost on Friday night, but I think both will get back in the win column here. Frankly, both have excellent opportunities to score bonus points for Iowa, particularly Wicke, who's facing an opponent that's gone 0-13 on the year. In fact, 11 of those 13 losses have been via bonus points, with eight technical fall defeats. There's no excuse for Wilcke not to pour on the points in that match. Jacob Warner is another guy I'd like to see pour on the points in his match; he's been winning his matches of late, but without a lot of offense (particularly from neutral). This would be a good match to break that trend. 
  • Can Alex Marinelli make it four matches in a row where he scores six team points for Iowa? I'm going to say "yes." He had pins against Minnesota and Rutgers, then drew enough stall calls to earn a DQ finish against Illinois; I think he picks up another pin today.
  • Johnny Sebastian ought to be a good test for Mitch Bowman (if he wrestles here), too. Sebastian isn't ranked, but he's a fringe Top 20 guy and the kind of guy we need to see Bowman beat to really think he can win a few matches for Iowa in March.
  • Outside of Lee-Rivera and Young-Deakin, the most interesting match might be Stoll-Jennings -- if it happens. I'm curious to see if Stoll will wrestle twice this weekend given the measured approach the Iowa coaches have taken with him so far. Stoll is 4-0 against Jennings in his career, including two pins, but he beat Jennings just 2-0 at the dual last year and, as we've seen, he hasn't always looked particularly dominant this year. 

I won't be able to provide live comments and results for this entire show, unfortunately, so if someone wants to step up and do that, it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks! 

The usual rules apply. 

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