#3 Iowa vs #9 Nebraska: Preview + Open Thread

By RossWB on February 3, 2019 at 8:00 am
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@Hawks_Wrestling

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WHO: #9 Nebraska Cornhuskers (9-3, 3-2 Big Ten)
WHEN: Sunday, February 3, 2019
START TIME: 12:00 PM CT
WHERE: Bob Devaney Sports Center (Lincoln, NE)
TV: none
ONLINE: BTN Plus ($) or Flowrestling ($)
RADIO: Hawkeye All-Access; AM 800 near Iowa City or iHeart Radio (online)

After their sojourn in Illinois last weekend, the Iowa wrestling team is headed west this weekend to face another border rival -- Nebraska. And this one ought to be pose a stiffer challenge than either Illinois or Northwestern did for the Hawkeyes. Iowa-Nebraska is an interesting match-up because each team has strengths in different areas -- Iowa has a clear advantage at the lower weights and at some of the bigger upper weights, but Nebraska figures to have an advantage at many of the middle weights. If this dual plays true to expectations, it could come down to bonus points -- or the results of the handful of coin-flip bouts on the docket. 

That is, assuming the scheduled wrestlers actually compete in this dual. One never knows... One thing to note with this dual: travel and fatigue could play a factor. This is Iowa's only dual meet of the weekend, while Nebraska had a dual meet against Rutgers in New Jersey on Friday night and had to travel back to Nebraska before competing early in the day on Sunday. 

WEIGHT IOWA NEBASKA PREDICTION
125 #2 Spencer Lee (12-1, SO) #16 Zeke Moisey (9-6, SR) Lee via TF (IOWA 5-0)
133 #3 Austin DeSanto (13-1, SO)  Jevon Parrish (13-7, FR) / 
Tucker Sjomeling (11-5, RS FR)
DeSanto via MD (IOWA 9-0)
141 #16 Max Murin (11-4, RS FR) #19 Chad Red (12-8, SO) Red via DEC (IOWA 9-3)
149 #12 Pat Lugo (10-6, JR) Collin Purtinton (8-6, JR) /
Jordan Shearer (7-5, JR)
Lugo via DEC (IOWA 12-3)
157 #7 Kaleb Young (13-2, SO) #2 Tyler Berger (17-2, SR) Berger via DEC (IOWA 12-6)
165 #2 Alex Marinelli (15-0, SO) #6 Isaiah White (12-4, JR) Marinelli via DEC (IOWA 15-6)
174 Mitch Bowman (4-4, SR) / 
Keegan Shaw (14-4, JR)
#9 Mikey Labriola (16-4, RS FR) Labriola via DEC (IOWA 15-9)
184 #13 Cash Wilcke (13-3, JR) #4 Taylor Venz (15-3, SO) Venz via DEC (IOWA 15-12)
197 #5 Jacob Warner (10-2, RS FR) #11 Eric Schultz (16-6, SO) Warner via DEC (IOWA 18-12)
285 #3 Sam Stoll (6-0, SR)  #14 David Jensen (11-2, JR) Stoll via DEC (IOWA 21-12)

A few thoughts... 

  • Zeke Moisey is probably best known to Iowa fans for his shock run to the NCAA Tournament finals back in 2015 (when he was at West Viriginia), which included a 0:52 pin over Iowa's Thomas Gilman in the semifinals. That was a deeply disappointing result for Gilman. That semifinal run for Moisey has proven to be more of an aberration than a harbinger of things to come; this year he's 10-6 with a handful of losses against unfancied wrestlers. Assuming Spencer Lee is good to go for this bout, he should be able to win in pretty decisive fashion -- I think he'll be able to take Moisey on a few trips to Tilt Town and earn a technical fall.
     
  • Parrish, a true freshman, has been starting the last few duals for Nebraska at 133 -- and taking his lumps in the process, losing four of five bouts, including two by major decision (one of which came against Rutgers' Nick Suriano on Friday night). I think DeSanto will turn this match into a takedown clinic and pick up a major decision victory. 
     
  • 141 features one of the dual's biggest coin-flips of the meet, with two wrestlers ranked in the lower reaches of the Top 20 set to square off. Red was a surprise All-American as a freshman last year, but he's had a bit of a sophomore slump this season; after starting off the year ranked in the Top 10, he's gone just 14-8 and fallen into the fringes of the Top 20. But he's been wrestling better lately and many of his losses have been narrow defeats against some of the Top 10 guys at 141. I expect a pretty close, low-scoring bout here and, unfortunately, those haven't really favored Murin against stronger competition. 
     
  • Shearer has been the preferred option for Nebraska lately, but this might be an option for Nebraska to rotate, given the travel and fatigue issues they could be dealing with. Whoever Nebraska sends out will be an underdog against Lugo, though, and he needs to push the pace and widen the scoring margin. It would be great to see him get bonus points here, but my confidence in that is a bit low after his underwhelming showing against Northwestern last week. 
     
  • 157 is one of the signature bouts of the dual, with #2 Tyler Berger set to face #7 Kaleb Young. Young has been slumping lately, highlighted by his upset loss to Illinois' Eric Barone last weekend, and Berger is not exactly the opponent you'd like to see when you're trying to break a slump. I expect Young to keep it fairly close, but Berger is better from neutral than Young and I think he wins by at least 3-4 points.
     
  • 165 would be the other signature bout of the dual; it's also one of the key toss-up matches in the event. Alex Marinelli has rolled through most of his competition this year (14-0, with bonus points in 12 of 14 wins), but White will be his biggest challenge since he narrowly got past Wisconsin's Evan Wick in the Midlands finals in late December. White is a strong and explosive athlete and his attacks could threaten Marinelli's defense. But he doesn't work at the quickest tempo, which should be to Marinelli's advantage. Marinelli has been too good this year for me to pick against him, but White is certainly good enough to sneak out an upset here. 
     
  • At 174 Nebraska figures to have one of their biggest advantages of the dual, with 9th ranked Labriola facing either Mitch Bowman or Keegan Shaw. Shaw had a hugely positive debut at 174 last weekend, but Labriola is a huge step up in quality from the foes he faced against Illinois and Northwestern. Shaw's task here may be damage limitation. I think Labriola wins comfortably, but I don't think he'll quite get to a major decision. 
     
  • Venz has wins in six straight matches entering his showdown with Wilcke, including pins in three of his last four bouts. So Wilcke will need to be on his guard in this one. Venz is good on his feet and, unlike Wilcke, he isn't afraid to take a few shots. I think he'll win a solid decision here, by 4-5 points.
     
  • Warner-Schultz is another match that looks like a potential coin-flip, particularly because while Warner has been getting results since Midlands, his performances haven't been blowaway, especially when it comes to attacks from neutral. This feels like a match that could come down to a third period (or sudden victory) takedown or a riding time point. I'll go with Warner to win by the slimmest or margins. 
     
  • The heavyweight bout is another intriguing pairing. David Jensen is 13-2 on the year and his only losses have come against strong competition (Penn State's Anthony Cassar and Maryland's Youssif Hemida). Of course, Sam Stoll is also strong competition -- figuratively as well as literally. He's looked pretty good in his last few outings and I think he'll be difficult for Jensen to take down. Stoll wins a close one. 

So that's how I have it going down -- with Iowa taking six bouts and Nebraska getting four. I think Iowa's a slight favorite because they're heavy favorites at most of the matches they're favored at and more likely to get bonus points than Nebraska, which could prove pivotal. But if Nebraska does well in the coin-flip matches, this dual could get very tense. 

I'll be posting results and commentary in the comments below; feel free to join me!

The usual rules apply. 

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