Beat the Gophers... one more time.
#2 Iowa (20-1) vs. #4 Minnesota (14-2)
Date: February 23, 2013
Time: 1:00 pm CT
Location: Williams Arena, Minneapolis
Line: Pick 'em
A full report on last night's quarterfinal meet between Iowa and Cornell is forthcoming (probably as part of a jumbo-sized Duals recap), but suffice to say Iowa was not in fine form in that dual. They won, but Iowa needed Bobby Telford to pull out a win in the evening's final bout to secure the win, 21-16. All of Iowa's strongly favored wrestlers won (and four of Iowa's five wins involving bonus points, which proved invaluable in getting the overall win), but Iowa didn't win any of the toss-up matches and all the close matches went Cornell's way. If that happens again today, Iowa is going to be staring at a few dual meet losses. So let's hope for some sharper performances today.
FAVORED: Iowa in 5, Minnesota in 5
SWING BOUTS: 141, 165, 174, maybe 197
I'm going to eschew weight-by-weight breakdowns for this one. On paper, this shapes up as another five match split. Last night, Iowa used bonus points to secure a winning margin against Cornell; in Iowa's five match split with Minnesota earlier this season, it was tiebreakers that gave Iowa the win. Bonus points figure to be in short supply for Iowa again here -- on paper, Tony Ramos and Derek St. John should have strong opportunities to get bonus points, but both failed to get bonus points in their matches with Dardanes and Zilverberg earlier this year and in DSJ's case, Zilverberg is riding high off a shocking upset win of #7 Jesse Dong last night. Tony Ramos has been in imperious form of late, so bonus points are certainly possible, but Dardanes won't make it easy.
On the flipside, Minnesota doesn't have a ton of great opportunities to get bonus points, either -- their best bets are probably Dylan Ness and Kevin Steinhaus. Ness had two bonus point wins over Kelly last year, but Ness hasn't been quite as dynamic this year and while Kelly's lack of offense has been frustrating, he's been pretty good this year about not giving up bonus points in defeats. Steinhaus is coming off a pin last night, but Lofthouse is difficult to score bonus points on (even if, like Kelly, his own offense is often frustratingly non-existent) and should keep a loss there to a decision.
Close matches are the other puzzle for Iowa to solve if they want to win this dual. They came up short last night against Cornell (Ballweg and Kelly each lost 3-1 decisions, Lofthouse lost a 3-2 decision, and Burak lost a 6-3 decision after a late takedown). They had mixed results in close matches in their first dual with Minnesota. McD won 6-3, Ballweg won 3-1 (after a late takedown and ride-out), but Evans lost a 4-3 decision, Lofthouse lost a 6-3 decision, Burak lost a 3-1 decision in OT, and Telford lost 2-1. Iowa will probably need to flip the result in at least one of those matches to get a win in this dual. They also have to avoid losing the matches they won in the first go-round, which could be problematic, given Ballweg's recent skid and Moore's inconsistency.
Meanwhile, in the other semifinal...
FAVORED: Okie State in 5, Mizzou in 3, 2 matches are basically pushes
SWING BOUTS: Maybe everything but 125 and 149, frankly.
Like Iowa-Minnesota this is another regular season rematch. Okie State won the first meeting, 21-13, although that result carries a caveat: #1 ranked heavyweight Dom Bradley didn't wrestle for Mizzou in that meet and his replacement was pinned by Oklahoma State's Alan Gelogaev, which was potentially a 9-point swing. That match also had an incredible number of close decisions:
125: Waters DEC (4-2) Klimara
133: McCormick DEC (4-3) Morrison
141: Hucke DEC (5-4) Feikert
149: Oliver DEC (4-2) Houdashelt
157: Dieringer DEC (5-3) Bradley
165: Caldwell DEC (3-1 OT) Toal
184: Chionuma DEC (5-4) Larson
197: Rosholt DEC (4-3) Haynes
The only blowouts were Gelogaev's aforementioned pin and the shocking result at 174, where then-#1 Chris Perry lost to Todd Porter via major decision, 9-1. Every other match was decided by two points or fewer, even the matches involving very highly-ranked wrestlers like Waters and Oliver.
So this dual could probably go in a lot of different directions and none of them should be too surprising. Okie State is probably still the favorite, since they did win last time, but this should be one tense dual meet.
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