A dual season that started way back in November is finally coming to a close now, three months later. Iowa's had a pretty solid season thus far, going 14-2 in dual meets. They dropped dual meets to Penn State and Minnesota, two of the top of teams in the country. Of course, since the Penn State dual meet was the result of non-conference negotiations between Iowa and Penn State, Iowa's actually 6-1 in official Big Ten duals, meaning that a win over Wisconsin in the final dual meet of the B1G season would technically give Iowa a share of the Big Ten dual meet championship (Penn State and Minnesota already finished Big Ten play 7-1; Penn State lost to Minnesota, while Minnesota lost to Michigan).
Regardless of the dual meet title implications, this is an important and intriguing deal meet because of some of the matchups. As has been the case in almost every dual Iowa's had this season, Iowa's depth and quality is likely going to be too much for Wisconsin to overcome in the larger scope of the entire dual meet. But they do have a handful of very good wrestlers (four ranked in the top 10 at their respective weights) who can -- and likely will -- make life very difficult for their Iowa counterparts. But those are the matches Iowa needs to win, to shore up seeds for the Big Ten and NCAA Tournament and to gain confidence for potential showdowns down the road.
WHO: #15 Wisconsin (12-5,
WHEN: 1 PM CT; Sunday, Feb 23rd, 2014
WHERE: Madison, WI
ONLINE: video.BTN.com, Hawkeye All-Access ($)
RADIO: AM-800 KXIC (free), Hawkeye All-Access ($)
TWITTER: @IowaWRLive, @hagertony
(all rankings via Intermat)
#3 Iowa Hawkeyes (14-2, 6-1)
125: UN Cory Clark (14-0, RS FR) or #5 Thomas Gilman (16-3, RS FR)
133: #3 Tony Ramos (22-2, SR)
141: #13 Josh Dziewa (21-6, JR)
149: #7 Brody Grothus (21-8, SO)
157: #2 Derek St. John (23-2, SR)
165: #4 Nick Moore (18-2, JR)
174: #5 Mike Evans (22-3, JR)
184: #4 Ethen Lofthouse (17-2, SR) or UN Sammy Brooks (18-7, RS FR)
197: #13 Nathan Burak (12-3, SO)
285: #3 Bobby Telford (18-3, JR)
#15 Wisconsin Badgers (12-5, 5-2)
125: #9 Ryan Taylor (14-2, RS FR)
133: #5 Tyler Graff (25-3, SR)
141: UN Jesse Thielke (16-11, RS FR)
149: UN T.J. Ruchell (14-11, RS FR) or UN Ryan Lubeck (5-6, RS FR)
157: #7 Isaac Jordan (23-4, RS FR)
165: UN Frank Cousins (11-12, JR) or UN Ben Cox (4-5, JR)
174: #20 Scott Liegel (16-9, SR)
184: UN Jackson Hein (12-6, SR) or UN Dylan Iczkowski (4-6, JR)
197: UN Timmy McCall (13-11, JR)
285: #10 Connor Medbery (20-6, SO)
UN Cory Clark (14-0, RS FR) or #5 Thomas Gilman (16-3, RS FR) vs. #9 Ryan Taylor (14-2, RS FR)
ROSS: The mystery of which Iowa 125er will be favored continues. Clark or Gilman? Gilman or Clark? Tastes great or less filling? Hard to say which one will be favored here. Taylor is fresh off a 5-3 SV win over fellow bottom-of-the-top-10 wrestler Tim Lambert (Nebraska), who also gave Gilman some fits a few weeks ago. But against his two toughest opponents (Jesse Delgado and UNI's Dylan Peters) he's lost via pin. If Clark goes, I think he has a good chance at getting bonus points here (and maybe even a pin); if Gilman goes, I'm less confident about potential bonus points. But either way it should be an Iowa win. I'll go with Clark via major.
#3 Tony Ramos (22-2, SR) vs. #5 Tyler Graff (25-3, SR)
ROSS: Tyler Graff didn't wrestle in Wisconsin's dual meet against Nebraska on Friday night, but I don't know if that means much for his odds of wrestling in this dual. I think we have some idea what to expect if Ramos and Graff tangle again: a close, cagey match without a ton of scoring or action. Last year, Ramos won both encounters (3-1 in the Big Ten semifinals and 6-4 in sudden victory in the NCAA semifinals). I'd expect another close Ramos win if Graff goes here; if Graff sits out and Tony gets a backup, I like Tony to end his Iowa dual meet career with a flourish -- and a pin. I'm going to assume that Graff wrestles, though. Ramos via decisoion.
#13 Josh Dziewa (21-6, JR) vs. UN Jesse Thielke (16-11, RS FR)
ROSS: There's no bigger question mark -- and, not coincidentally, no bigger source of frustration -- in the Iowa lineup right now than Josh Dziewa. Dziewa is riding a two-match losing streak, losing both matches in eerily similar fashion: getting an early lead thanks to a first-period takedown before losing it all by getting ridden out in the second period and then giving up match-losing takedowns in the third period. Thielke is an opponent that Dziewa should beat -- against common opponents Jeva is 9-1, while Thielke is 4-4* -- but it really depends on which Dzeiwa shows up for this match. If it's the guy we've seen the last two weeks, then this is a match that he is eminently capable of losing. But I'm going to hope that those two losses have lit a fire under his ass and we see a better Jeva this week. Dziewa via decisioon.
NOTE: You can easily check out the comparative h2h results for Iowa and several opponents by checking Wrestlestat.
#7 Brody Grothus (21-8, SO) vs. UN T.J. Ruschell (14-11, RS FR) or UN Ryan Lubeck (5-6, RS FR)
ROSS: Grothus got a week off for Iowa's trip to Lehigh last week, but I don't expect him to miss two meets in a row (although Kelly is listed as an option at 149 on the official match notes for this dual. Either Ruschell or Lubeck would be a welcome step down from the string of top 10 opponents that Grothus has faced for most of January and February, though, and bonus points could be possible. I'll take Grothus via comfortable decision.
#2 Derek St. John (23-2, SR) vs. #7 Isaac Jordan (23-4, RS FR)
ROSS: If Graff sits out this dual, then St. John-Jordan is definitely the match of the dual -- and it might be anyway. DSJ and Jordan tangled earlier this year, at Midlands, where DSJ managed to eke out a 4-2 win in sudden victory. Jordan is a very strong opponent, though -- if his tight match with DSJ doesn't persuade you, then maybe this will: he just handed Nebraska's #1 James Green his first loss of the season (3-1 in sudden victory) on Friday. He's another guy that's going to be a load at this weight for years to come. Green's loss could already throw a monkeywrench into the seeding at this weight; I don't want to try and figure out what another DSJ loss might do to things. But this is a match where DSJ will need to be at this sharpest to win... but I have faith that he'll get the job done. DSJ via close decision.
#4 Nick Moore (18-2, JR) vs. UN Frank Cousins (11-12, JR) or UN Ben Cox (4-5, JR)
ROSS: The upper weights are not particularly strong for the Badgers, so Iowa could make some serious bonus point hay in those weights in this dual. Cousins got majored on Friday night and Moore has been on a roll pretty much all season. I'll take Moore via major decision.
#5 Mike Evans (22-3, JR) vs. #20 Scott Liegel (16-9, SR)
ROSS: Liegel got mauled by Robert Kokesh on Friday night (lost via technical fall); I look for The 'Stache to make it a looong afternoon for him as well. Evans via major decision.
#4 Ethen Lofthouse (17-2, SR) or UN Sammy Brooks (18-7, RS FR) vs. UN Jackson Hein (12-6, SR) or UN Dylan Iczkowski (4-6, JR)
ROSS: It's not clear whether Lofthouse's gimpy knee is sufficiently healed up enough to let him go here or not, but neither Lofty nor Brooks should have too much trouble in this match. Iczkowski lost via major decision on Friday night to Nebraska's TJ Dudley. Hein is a bit scrappier, but he should fall to Lofty or Brooks, too. I'll say Brooks/Lofthouse via comfortable decision.
#13 Nathan Burak (12-3, SO) vs. UN Timmy McCall (13-11, JR)
ROSS: Despite having a hugely unimpressive overall record, McCall does have a (semi-inexplicable) win over #4 Nick Heflin (3-1 in sudden victory), so he's certainly capable of scoring the upset here. Especially since Burak has had some ups and downs since returning from injury earlier this year. But.. it's hard to ignore that record. McCall has lost to a LOT of guys, not all of them very impressive opponents. I think Burak grinds out a decision here.
285: #3 Bobby Telford (18-3, JR) vs. 285: #10 Connor Medbery (20-6, SO)
ROSS: Medbery is a solid heavyweight, but based on his results thus far this season he's a cut below the top guys at this weight: he's lost to Tony Nelson (4-1), Mike McMullan (4-3), and Adam Chalfant (fall, 1:53). He also got blasted by Mike McClure (12-4 major decision). (He hasn't faced Michigan's Adam Coon yet.) Bobby's gone 3-3 against that crew this year (which includes two losses to Coon), but I think he's closer to that group than Medbery is. Telford via decision.
I don't feel good about predicting an Iowa shutout, but... Wisconsin's two best wrestlers are Graff and Jordan and they wrestle at the same weights (133 and 157) as Iowa's two best guys. And Iowa's guys have beaten them in the past. So... yeah. An upset or two certainly would not surprise me, but I'm going to stick with my shutout pick.
Let's set the over-under at 35.5. I'm advisedly taking the under, but I could see a fair number of bonus points in this meet, too.
This will also serve as the open thread for the dual.