WHO: #20 Illinois Fighting Illini (2-3, 1-2 Big Ten)
WHEN: Friday, January 25, 2019
START TIME: 8:00 PM CT
WHERE: Huff Hall (Champaign, IL)
RADIO: Hawkeye All-Access; AM 800 near Iowa City or iHeart Radio (online)
Iowa heads back on the road for a pair of Big Ten dual meets this week, first against Illinois in Champaign tonight and then against Northwestern in Evanston on Sunday afternoon. The absence of Penn State, Ohio State, and Michigan on the schedule means Iowa doesn't have many significant team threats on their dual meet schedule this season (although the clash with Oklahoma State in a month should be a good one). That's meant that we've needed to look more at individual matches at each dual to provide intrigue. That's worked well the last few weeks as we've had some quality Top 10 match-ups (like Kaleb Young vs Steve Bleise and Spencer Lee vs Sean Russell in the Iowa-Minnesota dual or Austin DeSanto's recent bouts with Ethan Lizak and Nick Suriano). That's what we'll be doing with tonight's showdown against Illinois as well, as there could be five match-ups pitting ranked wrestlers, although none of them are Top 10 clashes.
|125||#2 Spencer Lee (11-1, SO)||#15 Travis Piotrowski (JR, 12-6)||Lee via TF (IOWA 5-0)|
|133||#4 Austin DeSanto (12-1, SO)||#17 Dylan Duncan (SO, 9-6)||DeSanto via MD (IOWA 9-0)|
|141||#15 Max Murin (10-3, RS FR)||#4 Mike Carr (SO, 7-2)||Carr via DEC (IOWA 9-3)|
|149||#13 Pat Lugo (8-6, JR)||Christian Kanzler (JR, 3-8)||Lugo via MD (IOWA 13-3)|
|157||#5 Kaleb Young (13-1, SO)||#12 Eric Barone (JR, 14-7)||Young via DEC (IOWA 16-3)|
|165||#2 Alex Marinelli (13-0, SO)||Joey Gunther (JR, 15-7)||Marinelli via MD (IOWA 20-3)|
|174||Mitch Bowman (4-4, SR)||Carver James (JR, 11-8)||James via DEC (IOWA 20-6)|
|184||#13 Cash Wilcke (12-2, JR)||#2 Emery Parker (JR, 10-0)||Parker via DEC (IOWA 20-9)|
|197||#5 Jacob Warner (8-2, RS FR)||Andre Lee (SR, 15-8)||Warner via DEC (IOWA 23-9)|
#3 Sam Stoll (4-0, SR) /
Aaron Costello (6-4, RS FR)
|Deuce Rachal (SR, 7-11)||Stoll via FALL (IOWA 29-9)|
A few thoughts:
Lee beat Piotrowski via 17-2 technical fall when they met for the first time at Midlands last year. We've seen him have some difficulty duplicating lopsided victories against repeat opponents this year, but part of that has also been the fact that those opponents (Sebastian Rivera and Sean Russell) are pretty good themselves. I don't think Piotrowski is in that class, though, and I think Lee will roll here.
After two huge wins in as many weeks, DeSanto gets what should be an easier opponent on paper in Illinois' Dylan Duncan. DeSanto beat Duncan via DQ at Midlands a few weeks, as he drew so many stall calls (five, if memory serves) on Duncan that the referee was forced to stop the match. We'll see if Duncan chooses to actually engage DeSanto this week. Either way, I think DeSanto gets bonus points for Iowa.
141 provides one of the most intriguing matches of the evening as it gives Max Murin another crack at a Top 10 wrestler. He's gone 0-2 against opponents in that category so far (losing 5-2 to Josh Alber and 5-3 to Mitch McKee). I'm not confident in his ability to prevent that record from going to 0-3 here, either. Until I see Murin be able to score on Top 10 guys at this weight, I can't pick him to win. (Carr also beat Murin 3-2 at Midlands last year.)
Lugo had a challenging match against one of the top guys at 149 last week in #2 Anthony Ashnault, but he should be able to get back on track in a big way against Kanzler, who has struggled enormously this season. Kanzler lost to Minnesota's Tommy Thorn via 11-0 major decision last week; the week before that Lugo beat Thorn via 14-0 major decision. According to the transitive property, I believe that means Lugo should beat Kanzler 25-0 tonight. It won't (and can't) be that bad, but I do expect Lugo to roll here.
157 has one of the other most intriguing matches of the night, as #5 Kaleb Young takes on #12 Eric Barone. Barone is 14-7, but many of those losses have been against top guys at 157. Is Young also a top guy at 157? He looks like he's pretty close. I don't expect a lot of scoring, but I think Young wins by 3-4 points.
Well, hello, old friend! 165 will be reunion time, as Joey Gunther is set to suit up for Illinois against Alex Marinelli. Gunther, of course, began his career at Iowa and was a two-year starter for the Hawkeyes (at 165 in 2016-17 and at 174 in 2017-18). The results weren't quite there, though, and he was the odd man out when Michael Kemerer moved from 157 to 174. (In hindsight, of course, Gunther likely would have ended up with another year to start if he'd stayed at Iowa...) There should be no lack of familiarity between Gunther and Marinelli when they tie up tonight, but I don't think that will do Joey much good -- Marinelli seems to have taken his game to another level this season and I expect him to pour on the points in this match. The Bull may not make it three pins in his last three matches, but I think he'll get a third-straight bonus point victory at least.
174 is the only bout of the night that's not slated to feature any ranked wrestlers (depending on whether or not Sam Stoll wrestles at 285 for Iowa), which makes it a true toss-up. That said, I'm not comfortable picking Bowman to win at his new weight until I actually see him do it. So... James it is here.
The last of the intriguing matches of the night is at 184, where Cash Wilcke will get a chance to show what he can do against one of the best at this weight, #2 Emery Parker. I think Cash Money keeps it close, but Parker will be a little too slick for him in the end.
Bonus points have been hard for Jacob Warner to come by since fully entering the Iowa lineup and I don't see him starting with Lee, who's good enough to make this match interesting and keep it close. It would be good to see Warner get off to a fast start and score some points in the first period, though. I see him winning a 4-5 point decision here.
- Heavyweight is hard to predict without knowing who will wrestle for Iowa. If Stoll goes, I think he can get a pin. He pinned Rachal when they faced off a year ago and while he's still a little creaky, he's good enough to put Rachal on his back. If Costello wrestles instead, I expect a closer match and one that would be a true coin-flip. I'll go with Costello to use his tempo to wear down Rachal enough to eke out a close one.
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