The Hawkeyes hit the road tonight, to face another B1G opponent, #19 Northwestern. The Northwestern Wildcats will be a welcome sign for some of Iowa's wrestlers after a tough dual against Minnesota last Saturday. The Hawkeyes have an impressive 68-7-1 all-time series record against the Wildcats. The last time the Wildcats beat the Hawkeyes was 2005. Will Smith was one of the top pop artists in 2005. Yep - it's been a long time.
WHO: #19 Northwestern Wildcats (6-5, 1-5)
WHEN: 7 PM CST; Friday, January 31st, 2014
WHERE: Evanston, ILL. Welsh-Ryan Arena
ONLINE: Big Ten Digital Network ($) Hawkeye All-Access ($)
RADIO: AM-800 KXIC (free), Hawkeye All-Access ($)
TWITTER: @IowaWRLive, @hagertony
#2 IOWA HAWKEYES (11-2, 4-1)
125: #5 Thomas Gilman (RS FR, 15-3) or Cory Clark (RS FR, 12-0)
133: #3 Tony Ramos (SR, 19-2)
141: #9 Josh Dziewa (JR, 20-4)
149: #12 Brody Grothus (SO, 19-7)
157: #2 Derek St. John (SR, 20-2)
165: #4 Nick Moore (JR, 15-2)
174: #5 Mike Evans (JR, 19-3)
184: #4 Ethen Lofthouse (SR, 16-2) or #10 Sammy Brooks (RS FR, 16-7)
197: #16 Nathan Burak (SO, 9-3)
285: #1 Bobby Telford (JR, 15-1)
#19 Northwestern Wildcats (6-5, 1-5)
125: Garrison White (SO, 7-10)
133: Dominick Malone (SO. 10-8)
141: Pat Greco (JR, 11-10)
149: #4 Jason Tsirtsis (RS FR, 19-3)
157: Benjamin Sullivan (RS FR, 7-6)
165: #7 Pierce Harger (JR, 17-4)
174: #15 Lee Munster (JR, 6-3)
184: Jacob Berkowitz (SO, 8-10)
197: #17 Alex Polizzi (JR, 16-6)
285: #3 Mike McMullan (JR, 7-1)
#5 Thomas Gilman (RS FR, 15-3) or Cory Clark (RS FR, 12-0) vs Garrison White (SO, 7-10)
TONY: Look for Cory Clark to get the nod Friday. I was told Clark was supposed to wrestle against Minnesota but woke up with some funk on his face. His weight was fine, but there was no way he would pass skin check. Gilman either wasn't ready to wrestle or just got caught last weekend. Brands and Co. haven't put a kibosh to Clark starting for a reason and I hope we see it Friday. Clark should have no problem getting bonus.
ROSS: I'll defer to Tony on who gets the start for Iowa at this weight, but I hope we see a better performance out of whoever goes for Iowa tonight. Gilman has struggled of late for sure. White has an unimpressive record and no good wins, but he has wrestled a few top-10 125ers close (an 8-6 decision loss to #9 Tim Lambert, a 7-3 decision loss to #4 Josh Martinez). Clark pinned him in a minute and a half when they faced each other at Midlands. I think he gets bonus points for Iowa if he wrestles; I'm less sure if Gilman does the same. If Tony thinks Clark goes tonight, I'll go with that. Clark via major.
#3 Tony Ramos (SR, 19-2) vs Dominick Malone (SO, 10-8)
TONY: A poster on another site called Tony Ramos's match performance "pathetic." Another poster said he doesn't put up bonus points. Oh my. Ramos leads the team with 57 dual meet points and he has nine falls and a 64-2 overall record in career duals. He's been a work horse for Iowa and it drives me nuts when people talk bad about Tony because he has lost a couple matches this year. David Thorn was a ranked opponent who had dinosaur arms the whole match. What was he supposed to do? If you want to see bonus points, you'll get it Friday against Dominick Malone. Malone was TF 24-9 by Tyler Graff Sunday and was majored by David Thorn 16-5 a couple weeks back. History shows Mr. Malone will be on his back Friday at some point. Ramos by fall.
ROSS: Malone was a 125er a year ago and let's just say the move up to 133 has not been great for him. He's lost five of his last six matches and as Tony noted, he got wrecked by Thorn and Graff. Tony Ramos is very good. Tony Ramos is probably very angry about not getting bonus points last week against Thorn. Dom Malone is in trouble. Ramos by fall.
#9 Josh Dziewa (JR, 20-4) vs Pat Greco (JR, 11-10)
TONY: Dziewa is continues to impress the Hawkeye faithful with another win over a top five opponent last week. Dziewa will face Greco Friday night, who has an 11-10 record. Greco has battled with some of the top wrestlers at this weight and he's given up bonus points to some of them. Chris Dardanes (victim of a 1-0 loss to Dziewa a week ago) squeaked out a 3-2 win over Greco a few weeks ago, but Logan Stieber (tOSU) got a tech fall (15-0) over him and Zain Retherford got a major decision win (10-2). Dziewa is on a roll but is it only against top level wrestlers? Does he wrestle to his competition? I don't think Dziewa will get bonus on the road vs Greco and wins by a solid decision.
ROSS: Pat Greco continues to have one of the finest names in the entire Big Ten -- if not the entire nation. He does not have one of the finest records, though. But he's only been crushed by the very top guys at this weight; against everyone else he's put up very spirited battles. I expect the same against Dziewa. I think this will be a close, nail-biting match in the third period, but I'll take Dziewa to eke out the win. Dziewa by decision.
#12 Brody Grothus (SO, 19-7) vs #4 Jason Tsirtsis (RS FR, 19-3)
TONY: Grothus was on a roll there for a bit, knocking off #3 Josh Kindig (OKST) and then-#2 Jason Tsirtsis (NW). He's taken a few steps back since then, losing to #5 Jake Sueflohn (NEB) and #3 Nick Dardanes (MINN). I'm hoping for a similar match to their first meeting between these two for obvious reasons. At the beginning of the season watching younger Tsirtsis made me think what could have been if he had followed his brother Alex to Iowa. All those thoughts got thrown out the window when Grothus upset Tsirtsis at Midlands this year, though. It's hard to come back from a big dual meet loss and especially on the road. This is one top five wrestler Grothus won't get by, but a loss here will set up a nice rubber match in Madison at the Big Ten Tournament. Tsirtsis by decision.
ROSS: Brody Grothus' murderer's row schedule continues with yet another top-5 opponent in T-shirt the Younger. Grothus pulled off a stunning upset of Tsirtsis at Midlands, but Tsirtsis has gone 5-1 since then, losing only to Dardanes a few weeks ago. Grothus' win over T-shirt should give him some confidence for this match and despite the losses, he's wrestled pretty well against very strong opposition the last few weeks, so he's certainly got a shot here. If this dual was at Carver, I'd be more inclined to take him. But as it's in Evanston, I'll side with T-shirt to even their series up at 1-1. Tsirtsis via decision.
#2 Derek St. John (SR, 20-2) vs Benjamin Sullivan (RS FR, 7-6)
TONY: That was a tough loss for DSJ last week. I would say a lot of pressure is off DSJ and should give him some time to get back to the basics. Go back to being a grinder. Don't force shots. Sullivan has been getting beat up lately and he'll get no relief from DSJ. Look for St. John to score quickly and then grind on top. DSJ via major.
ROSS: DSJ screwed up and got caught by Ness last week. It sucked, but that can happen if you let your guard down against someone as funky as Ness. I think St. John will be much more wary if they meet each other again in the Big Ten or NCAA Tournaments. Of course, that has little to do with tonight's match. Sullivan doesn't have any impressive wins on his resume and shouldn't pose much of a threat to DSJ. I rarely expect bonus points out of St. John, though, so I'll just say that he gets a solid decision.
#4 Nick Moore (JR, 15-2) vs #7 Pierce Harger (JR, 17-4)
TONY: Harger has continued to close the gap on Moore. Can Harger come up with a huge upset? The answer is no. Moore is 3-0 all-time against Harger in college and he's been in complete control each match. In their most recent match, he defeated Harger, 7-4, in the Midlands quarterfinals. Moore also has a fall over Harger as a freshman and a 7-2 victory at last year's Big Ten Championships. Moore should be in control this whole match but I don't see bonus points. Moore by decision.
ROSS: After being on a nice little run of form lately, Moore took a step back against Zilverberg last week. The aggressive, attacking Moore we'd seen in several recent matches was replaced with the more tentative, flat-footed Moore we've seen in past years. Hopefully last week's performance was a blip because Harger is good enough to upset Moore if he's not sharp. That said, Moore is just a better wrestler than Harger at this point and I think he'll bounce back after last week's ho-hum showing. Moore via decision.
#5 Mike Evans (JR, 19-3) vs #15 Lee Munster (JR, 6-3)
TONY: I'm not sure what is going on with Munster -- it looks like he injury defaulted out of the match with Matt Brown (PSU). Brown was putting on a clinic and was up 10-1 when Munster pulled the plug. The match notes show Munster making the start but will he be 100%? Either way, I don;t think it will matter because the win over Storley last weekend should be a huge confidence booster for The 'Stache. After losing to the #2, #3 and #4 ranked wrestlers in the country we weren't sure how this season was going to end up for Evans. Evans has been tearing up lower-ranked wrestlers, though, and I see him continuing that trend Friday. Evans via decision.
ROSS: I think there are still some question marks about The 'Stache against top-5 opponents at this weight (the Storley win was nice to see, but it's still going to be difficult to win those matches if he can't score from his feet), but those are questions for another day. Munster is not a top-5 opponent and he's had his share of struggles this year. I think Evans wins comfortably, although I think he'll only get bonus points if he can turn Munster on the mat. I'll go with The 'Stache via decision.
#4 Ethen Lofthouse (SR, 16-2) or #10 Sammy Brooks (RS FR, 16-7) vs Jacob Berkowitz (SO, 8-10)
TONY: Brooks should get the start again Friday and it will be in his home state. Brooks is from Oak Park, Ill., just 45 minutes away. One could expect a nice home town crowd for Sammy Brooks here. Berkowitz hasn't won a match in over a month and does give up bonus points. I expect to see Brooks dominate this match and pull off the major decision.
ROSS: Berkowitz is riding a six-match losing streak and as Tony noted, that skid has included some lopsided losses: 14-5 to #8 Kevin Steinhaus, 18-4 to #10 Kenny Courts, and FALL (1:36) to #2 Ed Ruth. If Brooks gets another start here, I think his tempo and offensive skills will lead to another beatdown for poor Mr. Berkowitz. Give me a major decision win for Iowa here. (Unless Lofty gets the nod, in which case we'll drop that down to a ho-hum decision.)
#16 Nathan Burak (SO, 9-3) vs #17 Alex Polizzi (JR, 17-6)
TONY: Burak didn't show much in his last outing or really since his first varsity match this season. I can't pinpoint what his deal is but we all know he has crisp shots and great technique on the mat. Burak will have a battle wrestling #17 Alex Polizzi. Polizzi has eleven more matches under his belt and that could come into play here. Burak beat him 5-2 this year at the Midlands Championships and I see a similar match going down Friday. I think Burak is an overall better wrestler and he gets the job done. Burak via decision.
ROSS: Burak got his ass handed to him by Schiller last week; fortunately, Polizzi isn't in Schiller's class. This is a match Burak needs to win for seeding and confidence purposes and I think he gets the job done. Burak via decision.
#1 Bobby Telford (JR, 15-1) vs #3 Mike McMullan (JR, 7-1)
TONY: Telford continues to beat ranked opponents and he'll face yet another one again Friday night. McMullan, InterMat's #3 heavyweight, will be a big test for Telford, InterMat's new #1. Yep, Bobert is #1 in the land and is Iowa's only #1 ranked wrestler. I never thought I would see that day... This is the first time Telford has been ranked #1, so we'll see how he handles it. These guys have wrestled twice, going 1-1 overall. Telford come out on top, 4-2, back in 2011 in the Midlands semifinals, but McMullan beat him last season, 7-5, in overtime in the dual. Telford did beat Nelson last weekend but given their styles anyone can win that match-up. I do not think Telford will get beat by him again. McMullan, on the other hand, has a better offense than Nelson and will go after Telford. If Telford is aggressive, he can win the match, but if he sits back and waits, then McMullan will come out on top with his low attack. McMullan via decision.
ROSS: And now for the main event of the evening... Telford's in the middle of his own brutal stretch -- Nelson last week, #3 McMullan this week, #2 Coon next week. He'll definitely get a chance to prove his bona fides as the newly-minted #1 heavyweight wrestler in all the land over the next few weeks. As Tony said, McMullan presents a very different challenge for Bobby than Nelson. We've known for a while that if Telford could just finish one freaking takedown on Nelson that he would have an excellent chance to beat him. Sure enough, he was able to finish that takedown last week and he got the win. One takedown probably isn't going to be enough to beat McMullan, though. To me, Bobby needs to channel the aggressive mindset he had against Indiana's Adam Chalfant a few weeks ago when he won 9-5 in OT. He needs to get after it on offense, take some shots, and finish some takedowns if he's going to beat McMullan. I hope he can do it, but I fear a letdown, especially on the road. Give me McMullan in a squeaker.
As you can see, this dual looks like it could -- and probably should -- be a lopsided rout for Iowa. Northwestern does have OK-to-very good chances to win about five matches (149, 165, 174, 197, 285), but they would need to sweep all of those matches and grab an upset elsewhere (Greco at 141 is probably the best bet) to pull off an upset in the dual. They'd also need to avoid giving up bonus points to Iowa, which could be a challenge, especially at 133 and 184. This should be a solid bounce-back win for Iowa.
OVER-UNDER: Let's set the over-under at 35.5.
K.J. Pilcher reported the story of the Big Ten reprimanding former Hawkeye and Illinois assistant coach Mark Perry. Perry questioned the referee's call in the Megaloudis-Delgado match last week. We don't know exactly what Mr. Perry had to say but you can imagine his frustration when this was called a takedown. Illinois challenged with a video review, but the call was confirmed and it remained a takedown.