#1 Iowa vs #12 Princeton Wrestling Preview: Catch A Tiger By His Singlet

By RossWB on December 7, 2019 at 10:08 pm
go hawks go

WHO: #12 Princeton Tigers (1-1)
WHEN: Sunday, December 8, 2019
WHERE: Jadwin Gymnasium (Princeton, NJ)
KICKOFF: 1:00 PM Central
TV: NBC Sports Chicago, NBC Sports Philadelphia
RADIO: Hawkeye Sports Network (check local listings); TuneIn (maybe)

After two dual meets against Top 10-ranked opponents, Iowa heads out east to take on... the #12-ranked team. Princeton has a pretty similar profile to Wisconsin, Iowa's opponent last week, actually: they have a handful of elite talents but also several question marks at other weights in the lineup. As we've seen over the last few weeks, that's a difficult formula to make work against a team like Iowa, who has strong options at all weights in the lineup. 

According to Iowa's match notes for Sunday's dual at Princeton, this dual will be easier to view than Iowa's road dual with Iowa State two weeks ago. Unlike that dual, this dual is apparently going to be televised on both NBC Sports Chicago and NBC Sports Philadelphia. While the ISU dual was streamed online via Cyclones.TV, the Princeton dual will be streamed online via ESPN+, a cheaper streaming option that also offers a great deal more content to watch than just ISU sports. Hooray! 

WT #1 IOWA VS #12 Princeton
125 Aaron Cashman (3-0, RS FR) vs #4 Pat Glory (6-0, SO)
133 #1 Austin DeSanto (3-0, JR) vs Sean Pierson (2-4, FR)
141 #10 Max Murin (2-0, SO)
Carter Happel (4-1, JR)
vs Marshall Keller (SO, 6-3)
149 #3 Pat Lugo (3-0, SR) vs #19 Mike D'Angelo (5-1, SR)
157 #3 Kaleb Young (2-1, JR) vs #9 Quincy Monday (6-1, SO)
165 #2 Alex Marinelli (3-0, JR) vs Grant Cuomo (7-1, SO)
174 #2 Michael Kemerer (3-0, SR) vs Kevin Parker (1-1, SR)
184 Cash Wilcke (4-1, SR)
#9 Nelson Brands (2-0, RS FR)
vs Travis Stefanik (4-1, SO)
197 #4 Jacob Warner (3-0, SO) vs #2 Patrick Brucki (3-0, JR)
285 #4 Tony Cassioppi (3-0, RS FR) vs Aidan Conner (2-6, FR)

(individual rankings via Trackwrestling; team rankings via NWCA Coaches Poll)

Looking at the weight-by-weight match-ups... 

125: We knew going into the season that Aaron Cashman would spell Spencer Lee at some duals this season; it looks like this will be the first of those fill-in appearances. I've thought all along that Lee would be more likely to miss away dual meets than home duals, so I'm not surprised to see him sit out this one, especially with a key freestyle competition coming up in a few weeks where Lee will try to qualify for the Olympic Team Trials in April. That said, it is disappointing that we won't get to see Lee tangle with Glory, a Top 5-ranked wrestler and All-American a year ago. (Lee did face him twice last year, beating him 18-2 at the dual and 12-6 at Midlands.) I suspect Cashman will be very game, but Glory will have too much for him -- and I think he'll manage to get bonus points as well. 

133: I expect any Princeton lead after 125 lbs to be short-lived, though. Austin DeSanto looks absolutely locked in at 133 lbs this year and he's set to face a wrestler who's 2-4 on the season. Pierson hasn't been bonused yet this year -- but he's not faced anyone nearly as good as DeSanto, either. I expect DeSanto to wear Pierson out with his pace and rack up plenty of takedowns -- unless he's able to get him on his back and end things quickly. I'll stick with a technical fall for now, though.

141: Keller has a good record, but has yet to face any Top 20 opponents this season. If Happel gets the nod here, this match could be close, though I'd still favor Happel to edge him. If Murin goes, I think he gets a solid decision win for Iowa here. 

149: D'Angelo isn't one of Princeton's studs -- but he's still a good wrestler. He's 5-1 on the year, went 23-10 last year, and is a two-time NCAA qualifier. While Lugo hasn't scored as many points as we might like him to so far this year, he has looked very solid overall -- he's getting to his offense well and showing some excellent defense. I think that carries him to a decision win here. 

157: With Lee not wrestling at this dual, 157 becomes one of the two spotlight matches of the dual as it features two Top 10-ranked wrestlers. Monday is 6-1 on the season was a NCAA qualifier a year ago as a true freshman. Lugo beat him 7-4 at the dual last year, though I'd say that both guys have improved since then. Monday's style relies on a little bit of funk and some explosive offense from neutral, which should make him an interesting test for Young. I think Young's experience and strong fundamentals give him the advantage here, but it wouldn't surprise me if this was a very close match. I will say this too: any hope of a Princeton upset in this dual requires Princeton wins at 149 and 157.  

165: Cuomo has a good record, but he's been racking up wins against low-ranked opponents to date. Marinelli is a massive step up the ladder in terms of competition and I expect The Bull to welcome him to the big leagues at 165 lbs. I think Marinelli does enough to get a major decision here, though if he spends too much working for a pin (and not getting it), he could win up with a lopsided decision instead. Marinelli hasn't scored bonus points for Iowa yet this season, but I think that bizarre drought ends in this match.

174: Parker was an NCAA qualifier last year (albeit at 184 lbs), but he had several lopsided losses against elite competition. That trend has carried over to this season (and a new weight), with a major decision defeat against Lehigh's Jordan Kutler a few weeks ago. With the way Kemerer has looked this year, I think he'll be joining that bonus point club as well. 

184: Stefanik was an NCAA qualifier a year ago (at 174 lbs) and is 4-1 on the season, though most of those wins have been against non-Division I competition. The most interesting question about this match is who gets the call for Iowa -- does Cash Wilcke get another shot after a frustrating performance against Johnny Sebastian last week? Or does Nelson Brands get another crack at things after winning his first two matches at this weight? I'm expecting an Iowa win here, but I also think it will probably be a close match. 

197: And here's the other spotlight match of the dual, featuring Princeton's other elite wrestler. Brucki is a returning All-American who went 33-3 last season and just knocked off a Top 10-ranked opponent in Oklahoma State's Dakota Geer. He also owns a 4-2 win over Warner from the 2017 Midlands tournament. Warner often seems to raise his game against better opponents, so it wouldn't surprise me at all to see Warner wrestle his best match of the year so far here. But Brucki looks too strong and he's been too consistent for me to pick against him right now. 

285: Princeton's heavyweight, Aidan Conner, is having a rough freshman season, going 2-6 with a pair of bonus point defeats. I don't think things are going to get any better for him against Tony Cassioppi. I think our boy Tony Pins adds to his pin count here. 

Princeton should be a heavy favorite at 125 and a solid favorite at 197. Iowa should be a heavy favorite at 133, 165, 174, and 285, with strong bonus point potential at each weight. And Iowa should be at least a slight favorite at 141, 149, 157, and 184 as well. Princeton will need a lot of things to right for them in this dual to have a chance at the upset. I don't see that happening. 

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