We Must Break You: Buffalo

Move over Muppets -- the Hawkeyes are taking Manhattan today.

EDIT: We're going to use this same post to discuss the results of the Iowa-Buffalo dual tonight. -- ross

New York, New York. Iowa's out east this weekend, taking part in the first-ever Grapple at the Garden event, a dual meet bonanza hosted at New York City's Madison Square Garden. It's the first time college wrestling has ever taken place at MSG, one of the most storied arenas in the world. That alone makes it a momentous event for the sport. It's also a fabulous attempt at outreach and spreading the gospel about college wrestling to a corner of the country that's not as wrestling-mad as Iowa or Pennsylvania. It's an excellent event for the sport and an incredibly exciting opportunity for the wrestlers; I hope this is the start of an excellent new tradition. The action kicks off with six duals at 9:30am CT, followed by another six duals at 11:30am CT.

9:30am
Drexel vs. George Mason
Rutgers vs. #14 Nebraska
#5 Iowa vs. Hofstra
#4 Ohio State vs. #18 Maryland
#8 Cornell vs. #7 Missouri
#2 Oklahoma State vs. Chattanooga

11:30am
#5 Iowa vs. Bucknell
Rutgers vs. Chattanooga
#4 Ohio State vs. Hofstra
#14 Nebraska vs. #18 Maryland
#8 Cornell vs. #2 Oklahoma State
#7 Missouri vs. Bloomsburg

As you can see, it's a strong field. Three different Big Ten squads are there (five, if you count future members Maryland and Rutgers) and there are five teams ranked in the top-10. Four of the twelve dual meets pit two ranked teams against one another, with Cornell getting the two centerpiece duals against Missouri and Oklahoma State. Sadly, Iowa drew the short stick when it came to dual opponents, getting unranked Hofstra and Bucknell rather than a ranked opponent. To be sure, Iowa's options were somewhat limited -- there was no point matching them up with Ohio State, Nebraska, or Oklahoma State, given that Iowa is already scheduled to wrestle all three schools later this season -- but it still would have been exciting to see Iowa wrestle either Cornell or Missouri, two teams they rarely see. Alas.

From an individual standpoint, it's also very loaded: there are five different former NCAA champions there (Iowa's Matt McDonough, Oklahoma State's Jordan Oliver, Cornell's Kyle Dake and Steve Bosak, and Ohio State's Logan Stieber); they've combined to bring home seven national titles (three for Dake, two for McD, one each for Oliver, Stieber, and Bosak). There are also six wrestlers ranked #1 in the nation at their respective weights (McD at 125, Stieber at 133, Oliver at 149, Iowa's Derek St. John at 157, Dake at 165, and Oklahoma State's Chris Perry at 174)

125: 4 top 10, 7 top 20
133: 5 top 10, 6 top 20
141: 2 top 10, 6 top 20
149: 4 top 10, 6 top 20
157: 4 top 10, 5 top 20
165: 2 top 10, 7 top 20
174: 6 top 10, 6 top 20
184: 5 top 10, 7 top 20
197: 2 top 10, 5 top 20
285: 3 top 10, 5 top 20

As you might expect with so many ranked teams present, there's also a pretty solid representation of ranked wrestlers at each weight class. Six of the ten weight classes feature at least four top-10 wrestlers, while seven of the ten weight classes feature at least six top-20 wrestlers. In terms of interesting matchups at each weight...

125

#1 Matt McDonough (Iowa) vs. #19 Steve Bonanno (Hofstra)
#13 Shane Gentry (Maryland) vs. #14 Nikko Triggas (Ohio State)
#4 Alan Waters (Missouri) vs. #10 Nahshon Garrett (Cornell)
#14 Nikko Triggas (Ohio State) vs. #19 Steve Bonanno (Hofstra)

Assuming the regular starters compete, there are four matches between ranked wrestlers slated to occur at 125. McD gets one of them, against Hofstra's Bonanno, although that match has a lost a lot of its luster thanks to the five losses Bonanno has already recorded this season. The top matchup looks like Missouri's Waters versus Cornell's surprising true freshman Garrett, a battle of top-10 wrestlers.

133

#1 Logan Stieber (Ohio State) vs. #11 Geoff Alexander (Maryland)
#6 Nathan McCormick (Missouri) vs. #8 Nick Arujau (Cornell)
#7 Jon Morrison (Oklahoma State) vs. #8 Nick Arujau (Cornell)

A trio of matchups between ranked wrestlers highlights the action at 133, with the best-looking showdowns looking like Cornell's Arujau's matches with McCormick and Morrison.

141
#11 Mark Ballweg (Iowa) vs. #14 Luke Vaith (Hofstra)
#19 Ridge Kiley (Nebraska) vs. #20 Trevor Melde (Rutgers)
#2 Hunter Stieber (Ohio State) vs. #14 Luke Vaith (Hofstra)

Iowa's Ballweg gets an early season test against Hofstra's Vaith, which should be an informative measuring stick match. Poor Vaith then has to turn around and wrestle Ohio State's Stieber in the next dual.

149
#17 Drake Houdaselt (Missouri) vs. #20 Chris Villalonga (Cornell)
#6 Justin Accordino (Hofstra) vs. #10 Cam Tessari (Ohio State)
#1 Jordan Oliver (Oklahoma State) vs. #20 Chris Villalonga (Cornell)

There's another trio of matchups between ranked wrestlers here, with the obvious standout between Hofstra's Accordino versus Ohio State's Tessari, a match between two top-10 guys.

157
#8 James Green (Nebraska) vs. #13 Scott Winston (Rutgers)

Alas, 157 is one of the weights with the fewest interesting matchups -- the only match between two ranked wrestlers is Nebraska's Green against Rutgers' Winston.

165
#1 Kyle Dake (Cornell) vs. #13 Zach Toal (Missouri)
#3 Tyler Caldwell (Oklahoma State) vs. #20 Josh Condon (Chattanooga)
#16 Corey Lear (Buckenll) vs. #19 Nick Moore (Iowa)
#1 Kyle Dake (Cornell) vs. #3 Tyler Caldwell (Oklahoma State)

165 is a better-looking weight than 157, thanks to four matchups between ranked wrestlers and the highlight match of the entire event: #1 Kyle Dake vs. #3 Tyler Caldwell. That match pits two of the top-three wrestlers in the country at 165 against one another and should be an absolute dandy. From an Iowa standpoint, Nick Moore should get a solid test from Bucknell's Lear.

174
#8 Robert Kokesh (Nebraska) vs. #10 Greg Zannetti (Rutgers)
#2 Nick Heflin (Ohio State) vs. #6 Josh Asper (Maryland)
#6 Josh Asper (Maryland) vs. #8 Robert Kokesh (Nebraska)

All three matches between ranked wrestlers at 174 feature wrestlers ranked in the top-10, adding a bit of extra intrigue to the proceedings. The best is Ohio State's Heflin (#2) versus Maryland's Asper (#6), but Nebraska's Kokesh has a pair of matches with top-10 opponents (Zannetti and Asper) that should also be entertaining.

184
#6 Josh Ihnen (Nebraska) vs. #14 Dan Rinaldi (Rutgers)
#6 Josh Ihnen (Nebraska) vs. #10 Jimmy Sheptock (Maryland)
#2 Steve Bosak (Cornell) vs. #13 Chris Chionuma (Oklahoma State)

Another weight with three ranked v. ranked matchups, although just one stands out: the top-10 showdown between Nebraska's Ihnen (#6) and Maryland's Sheptock (#10). There's a good amount of talent at 184 at this event -- it's just not matched up with one another.

197
#10 Andrew Campolattano (Ohio State) vs. #16 Christian Boley (Maryland)
#12 Brent Haynes (Missouri) vs. #18 Richard Perry (Bloomsburg)

Just two matchups between ranked opponents here, with only one competitor (Campolattano) being ranked in the top 10 (#10).

285
#2 Dom Bradley (Missouri) vs. #19 Justin Grant (Bloomsburg)

There are a few interesting heavyweights at this event; unfortunately almost none of them are scheduled to face one another, due to the dual matchups that have been set. That's too bad, considering that 285 is one of the more tightly-bunched weight classes in the country; it would have been nice to see some showdowns between ranked opponents to help impart some clarity. Instead, the only matchup between ranked wrestlers is Missouri's Bradley (#2) taking on Bloomsburg's Grant (#19).

As for Iowa's duals, I'm not going to bother with tables or weight-by-weight breakdowns. Hofstra has only three ranked wrestlers and Bucknell has just one, so suffice it to say that any table I made would feature a lot of arrows pointing at Iowa. They will be heavy favorites in both meets and should win handily.

IOWA V. HOFSTRA

This meet features three matches against ranked opponents:

125: #1 Matt McDonough (Iowa) vs. #19 Steve Bonanno (Hofstra)
141: #11 Mark Ballweg (Iowa) vs. #14 Luke Vaith (Hofstra)
149: UN Mike Kelly (Iowa) vs. #6 Justin Accordino (Hofstra)

As noted earlier, Bonanno is still technically ranked, but at 7-5 he's off to a rocky start this year and a match with McD doesn't figure to change that too much. I expect McD to win with bonus points here. Luckily, the other two matches should be much more useful for the Iowa wrestlers involved. Ballweg has been Iowa's most pleasant surprise this season, a strong wrestler strutting his stuff in his final go-round, but in Vaith he'll be facing one of his toughest opponents of the year thus far. Meanwhile, Kelly will have an even stiffer test in the form of Accordino; a win there would probably be the biggest of his career and could springboard him to even more success at 149. Hofstra doesn't have ranked wrestlers at any other weight, so I'd expect several blowout wins for Iowa there, which would pave the way for a lopsided final score, too.

IOWA V. BUCKNELL

This meet features just one matchup between ranked opponents:

165: #16 Corey Lear (Buckenll) vs. #19 Nick Moore (Iowa)

Lear is 14-3 on the year with several bonus point wins;' he won't be a pushover, but he's exactly the sort of wrestler that Moore will need to defeat in the first few rounds of the NCAA Tournament if he wants to contend for All-America honors. A win by Moore here would certainly give us a bit more confidence in his abilities.

IOWA V. BUFFALO

Finally, they're not an opponent at the Grapple at the Garden event, but Buffalo is taking on Iowa in a dual meet on Monday evening. They're also a bit short on ranked wrestlers, although they do look to matchup better with Iowa than Bucknell.

133: #3 Tony Ramos (Iowa) vs. #19 Erik Galloway (Buffalo)
165: #15 Mark Lewandowski (Buffalo) vs. #19 Nick Moore (Iowa)
174: #7 Mike Evans (Iowa) vs. #17 John-Martin Cannon (Buffalo)

If memory serves, this is Ramos' first match of the season against a ranked opponent. But Galloway isn't the strongest opponent (9-5 record) and Tony has looked so dominant this season that I expect a bonus point win here anyway. Lewandowski is 13-2 on the season, but he enters this showdown on a 2-match losing streak. Still, he should pose a nice challenge for Moore and give us a better picture of where Nick stands among the rest of the pack at 165. Finally, the final ranked matchup of the evening features Evans taking on Cannon. Cannon is just 1-1 on the year (he's been rehabbing an injury for much of the season, I believe), but he was an NCAA qualifier a year ago.

Honestly, the biggest intrigue of the weekend might not be who Iowa wrestles against in their matches, but rather who wrestles for Iowa this weekend. Given the packed schedule -- back-to-back dual meets on Sunday morning, followed by another meet in Buffalo on Monday evening -- Iowa's taking along several wrestlers in addition to the regular starters. Those wrestlers include:

125: Matt Gurule (SO, 4-3)
141: Josh Dziewa (SO, 10-2)
149: Brody Grothus (RS FR, 2-1)
174: Grant Gambrall (SR, 3-2)
197: Tomas Lira (JR, 4-3)

There are no backups listed at 133, 157, 165, 184, or 285, so perhaps Ramos, St. John, Moore, Lofthouse, and Telford will be wrestling all three matches at their respective weights this weekend. In any event, will all of the back-up wrestle? Maybe, maybe not. But some of them almost certainly will, especially at weights like 149, 174, or 197, where a definitive starter has yet to be announced. 197 is probably the most up in the air -- Burak's underwhelming performances have assuredly cracked open the door for Lira to contend for the starting job -- while it's probably just a matter of time (and maybe not very much time) before Kelly and Evans are the permanent starters at their respective weights.

#5 IOWA (7-0) VS. HOFSTRA (0-9)

Date: December 16, 2012
Time: 9:30am CT
Location: Madison Square Garden in New York City, NY
Television: none; no internet streams, either
Radio: Hawkeye All-Access, AM-800 KXIC
Line: none

#5 IOWA (7-0) VS. BUCKNELL (2-1)

Date: December 16, 2012
Time: 11:30am CT
Location: Madison Square Garden in New York City, NY
Television: none; no internet streams, either
Radio: Hawkeye All-Access, AM-800 KXIC
Line: nada

#5 IOWA (7-0) VS. BUFFALO (0-1)

Date: December 17, 2012
Time: 6pm CT
Location: Alumni Arena in Buffalo, NY
Television: none; no internet streams, either
Radio: Hawkeye All-Access, AM-800 KXIC
Line: zip

The lack of online streams, pay or otherwise, is extremely disappointing; hopefully that changes if they do this event again next year. In the meantime, I guess we'll just have to listen to the always-entertaining Steven Grace and Mark Ironside call the action for Iowa. That's not so bad. @IowaWRLive and @Hawks_Wrestling should be live-tweeting results from the duals and I'm sure there will be some liveblogs from the event, too -- I'll post links when/if I come across them.

This thread can also serve as the open thread to discuss the event: the usual rules apply.

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