#1 Iowa vs #7 Nebraska Wrestling: Preview + Open Thread

By RossWB on January 18, 2020 at 11:55 am
go hawks go

WHO: #7 Nebraska Cornhuskers (5-1, 0-1 Big Ten)
WHEN: Saturday, January 18, 2020
WHERE: Carver-Hawkeye Arena (Iowa City, IA)
START TIME: 8:00 PM Central
ONLINE: FoxSports.com
RADIO: Hawkeye Sports Network (check local listings); TuneIn (maybe)
ANNOUNCERS: Tim Johnson and Jim Gibbons

This is what we've been waiting for. It's been over a month since Iowa competed in front of a home crowd. It's also been over a month since Iowa faced a Top 10 squad or wrestled on BTN. Iowa will check all of those boxes with tonight's dual against Nebraska. The Huskers were even higher-ranked before losing to Wisconsin last weekend, but they'll still pose a solid test for Iowa. They have ranked wrestlers at nine of 10 weights, with four in the Top 10. Iowa has some good advantages at 125, 133, and 285, but the other weights look much tighter. If a lot of things break Nebraska's way, this could be a very interesting dual. 

But I don't expect that to happen. I think Iowa comes out with a point to prove in this dual and to put on a show in front of a large and very energetic Carver crowd. The matches may be close at several weights, but I don't think the final margin will be -- I'm calling for a big Iowa win here. 

125 #1 Spencer Lee (8-0, JR) vs Alex Thomsen (6-8, RS FR)
133 #2 Austin DeSanto (10-1, JR) vs #12 Ridge Lovett (8-4, FR)
141 #3 Max Murin (10-0, SO) vs #9 Chad Red (10-4, JR)
149 #1 Pat Lugo (12-0, SR) vs #18 Collin Purinton (10-4, SR)
157 #4 Kaleb Young (9-2, JR) vs #19 Peyton Robb (12-2, RS FR)
165 #2 Alex Marinelli (12-0, JR) vs #5 Isaiah White (12-1, SR)
174 #2 Michael Kemerer (6-0, SR) vs #6 Mikey Labriola (13-3, SO)
184 #9 Abe Assad (17-3, FR) vs #5 Taylor Venz (11-4, JR)
197 #4 Jacob Warner (10-2, SO) vs #15 Eric Schultz (14-2, JR)
285 #3 Tony Cassioppi (11-0, RS FR) vs #16 Christian Lance (9-4, SR)

* individual rankings via Trackwrestling; team rankings via NCWA Coaches Poll 

Wrestlestat picks Iowa to win by a 28-7 margin. Here's how I think things go at each weight: 

125: Alex Thomsen was a celebrated prep wrestler in Iowa and a four-time state champion. He's been struggling in his redshirt freshman season, though, and Spencer Lee is not a guy you want to face when things aren't going well. Hell, Spencer isn't a guy you want to face when things are going well. Thomsen's gonna take a few trips to Tilt Town. 

133: Lovett has had a nice freshman season so far -- but he's not ready for the Thunderdome that Carver-Hawkeye Arena is going to be for this dual and he's not ready for the attacking whirlwind that DeSanto is likely to be in this match. I think DeSanto pours it on here to get a major decision. 

141: This is the first of several Top 10 showdowns throughout the dual. Red is a two-time All-American and he bested Murin 4-1 at the NCAA Tournament last March, but he's had a few hiccups this season and just lost to Wisconsin's Tristan Moran 9-4 a week ago. Murin has looked solid all season and has looked even better recently, so I favor him to edge a close match. 

149: I expect this to be a low-scoring match, decided by just a few moves. That could make for a nerve-wracking bout, but Lugo has proven that he can get the job done in matches like that, so I expect him to do so again here. 

157: Robb has been having a very nice redshirt freshman season and I think he's going to make it very tough on Young. But Young has a huge experience edge and he'll have a raucous crowd behind him -- that will be enough to help him get a few takedowns and win here. 

165: This is the second of four Top 10 matches in the dual and one that could be critical if Nebraska has managed to spring upsets between 141 and 157. Marinelli has pins in six of his last eight matches and a pin here would really break things open in Iowa's favor, but I really don't expect that. White is a skilled and crafty opponent, with very stout defense. Marinelli beat him in their only past meeting, 3-0 at last year's dual, and I expect a similarly low-scoring match here.

174: And here's the third of four Top 10 matches in the dual; 165-184 is definitely the spotlight section of this dual meet. Kemerer had a few gas tank issues last weekend, but prevailed anyway and his 8-4 win over Dylan Lydy was particularly impressive given the way he was able to dig deep and record three takedowns in the third period. Labriola is a tough out and he's very good at keeping matches close. I think Kemerer will have a little too much firepower for him, though. 

184: And here's the final Top 10 match in the dual, with Nebraska's seasoned veteran Taylor Venz taking on Iowa's newest starlet, Abe Assad. Assad went 2-0 in his Iowa lineup debut last weekend and the CHA crowd will surely try to give him a boost here, but knocking off Venz at this point feels like a very big ask for our young hero. I think Venz gets Nebraska on the board with this match. 

197: Warner-Schultz isn't a Top 10 match, but it could still be tight and provide some fireworks. Warner went 2-0 against him last year, but the first win was a 4-1 decision at the dual and the second was a back-and-forth bout that Warner won 7-5 in overtime with some late heroics. If Warner isn't locked in for this match, Schultz could definitely take it. But I am expecting Warner to be ready to go here and for him to grab the win. 

285: Christian Lance has taken over for David Jensen as Nebraska's starting heavyweight this season. He's generally kept things close, but struggled to break through against top-tier heavyweights; I don't expect that to change here. Bonus points are always a possibility with Cassioppi, especially with his pinning potential, but I think he'll settle for a decision here. 

Go ahead and post results below. 

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