#5 IOWA (6-0) VS. #23 LEHIGH (3-2)
Yes, Iowa is really wrestling a dual at 4pm CT this afternoon against a legitimate opponent (Lehigh). No, I have no idea why they're wrestling at 4pm CT on a Thursday. I assume the wacko scheduling is for Lehigh's benefit, since I'm sure Iowa would rather schedule the meet at a more sensible hour and get a bigger crowd. Of course, CHA is also booked Thursday night (for the Iowa-ISU women's hoops game) and Friday night (for the Iowa-ISU men's hoops game), which limits Iowa's options. Then again, Lehigh doesn't have anything scheduled after this meet until the Midlands on 12/29 and 12/30, so it's not like they're hustling off to another dual meet after this one... I got nothing. This is just weird.
Lehigh is a solid team and a step up from the Iowa State meet this past weekend. Lehigh has two legitimate stars in Joey Napoli (4th at 157) and Robert Hamlin (3rd at 184). Hamlin is a two-time All-American at 184 and was the national runner-up in 184; he's the real deal. Beyond those two stars, though, the Lehigh lineup is a little lacking. Penn State beat Lehigh 29-6 when they met earlier this season and I'd expect a similar scoreline for Iowa this afternoon. A few quick thoughts...
125: Matt McDonough is slated to face a guy who is 1-4 on the year. Yeah, this is gonna be ugly.
133: Lehigh's starter here, Cody Kievman, is off of a solid 7-4 start in his freshman season... but Ramos is a huge step up in quality. Prediction? Pain, and lots of it.
141: Anthony Salupo, Ballweg's opponent, is 3-2 and ranked #18 in AWN's rankings, so he's no slouch. Ballweg may need to show a bit more offense than he did in the Iowa State dual.
149: Shane Welsh is ranked 19th by InterMat and AWN, despite his 2-3 record. That's technically higher ranked than Iowa's likely starter here, Mike Kelly (currently not ranked), but Kelly has been coming on of late and I look for him to grind out a win.
157: As briefly mentioned earlier, St. John-Napoli is the highlight match of the dual. Napoli is 5-0 on the season and ranked 4th in the nation after knocking off former #2 Dylan Alton of Penn State a few weeks ago. He'll be St. John's toughest test by far this season.
165: Nick Moore draws redshirt freshman Eric Hess, ranked 19th by AWN despite a 3-2 record. He looks decent, but this match likely comes down to which Nick Moore turns up. If it's the one that wrestled earlier this year and got pins nearly every time out, he should win. If it's the one that turtled up against Iowa State last week and stalled his way out of the third period, then who knows. Hess could very well beat that Nick Moore.
174: As always, there's intrigue about whether or not Mike Evans or Grant Gambrall will get the nod here. Lehigh counters with Nathaniel Brown, ranked 19th by InterMat with a 3-2 record. This should be a fun little match and a fine opportunity for Evans to impress the coaches and fans at his new weight; if Saturday was any indication, he should win here, too.
184: If St. John-Napoli is the main event of this dual, then this match, Robert Hamlin v. Ethen Lofthouse, is definitely the second-best bout on the card. Lofthouse passed his first test at 184, defeating ISU's Boaz Beard last week. The problem is, Beard is a good wrestler at 184... Hamlin is a great wrestler at that weight. I think he gives Ethen a rude "Welcome to 184, bitch!" comment.
197: Nathan Burak is 0-2 against all opponents since joining the Iowa starting lineup a few weeks ago, but he may not get a better chance to grab a win. John Bolich, his expected opponent, is just 1-4. Time for Burak to get off the schneid.
285: The expected Lehigh wrestler at this weight, Jack Delia is 3-2. Telford struggled to put away ISU's Matt Gibson last weekend, but I think he'll bounce back here.
In all, this looks like a meet that should be another Iowa rout, unless Lehigh springs a few upsets or flips all of the "PUSH" matches their way. I don't think that will happen, though. I see Iowa winning by about 28-6.
Feel free to use this thread as an open thread for the dual as well; the usual rules apply. I won't be around much to update it with results until later tonight, so feel free to post results on your own if you like. In addition to the video streaming options noted above, you can listen on the radio on 800 KXIC (if you live in the Iowa City vicinity) and you can follow @IowaWRLive and @Hawks_Wrestling on Twitter for live updates.