The Hawks are set to host #3 Wisconsin on Sunday, Dec. 1, at 7PM GT.
Iowa enters this dual as the #1 ranked team for the first time since 2015. We had sky high expectations coming into this season, now all the hard work is starting to come to fruition. We all hoped we could take over the #1 spot, but I don’t think any reasonable fan thought it would happen this early. But with that ranking comes extra heat. Now every team sees the bullseye on our back. Now let’s see how we respond to being up front, in the spot light, with all eyes focused solely on us.
This will be the 90th meeting between these two B1G rivals dating back to 1923. Iowa is leading the all-time series 78-8-3 and we’re seeking our 40th win against Wisconsin at home.
Every win over a top program is note worthy, but this time there is extra significance because Head Coach Tom Brands is currently sitting at 99 career conference wins while at the helm. A win here will push him into the century mark and keep the ball rolling in the right direction.
***I use wrestlestat.com for individual rankings***
The Badgers have started 6-0, but another win will solidify their best season start in well over a decade. Outside of a close 16-15 win over Army in early November, they haven’t been challenged nor have they faced elite competition.
However, they return several national qualifiers, including 2018 All-American, Trent Hillger (285lbs) and are led by former SDSU Jackrabbit (and ex-Hawk) and 2018 NCAA champ, Seth Gross (133lbs). They also have perennial All-American and legit finalist contender, Evan Wick, locking down 165lbs.
They are rocking a formidable lineup with four guys in the top 5: #1 Seth Gross, #3 Evan Wick, #6 Tristan Moran, and #5 Trent Hillger.
Our Hawkeyes are coming off a dominating performance over Iowa State, 29-6. Things are clicking nicely early on, which seems to be a bit of a change from pervious starts, where it’s taken them a handful of duals to get into the swing of things.
Nevertheless, they’re already wrestling at a high level and they have to continue that torrent pace if they want to fend off these pesky Badgers.
The hawks have all 10 guys ranked. In fact, all are in the top 20 with seven of them appearing in the top 10.
But there are still concerns/ questions surrounding our lineup, especially at 141lbs and 184lbs. Max Murin is listed in the probable lineup yet again, but there’s been no confirmation as to whether or not he will be going. If he doesn’t, it’s entirely possible that Austin DeSanto bumps back up to give Iowa a better chance at stealing a win between 133/141.
Also, the human spark plug aka, Nelson Brands, has exploded onto the scene after knocking off ranked opponents in back-to-back weeks. Cash Wilcke very well could still be the long term solution at 184lbs, but the young Brands is currently in the drivers seat.
I’m going to say this every week/ every preview I do, but this dual will come down to bonus points. We’re favored in seven of the ten matches, and are expected to find bonus points in four of them. We have swing matches at 133, 141, 165, and 285. So, it’s imperative we get the job down at the weights that we’re supposed to. But it all starts with Spencer Lee. Lee has to be Lee and give us an early 5 or 6 points cushion.
Furthermore, Michael Kemerer and Jacob Warner need to push for a tech fall or pin to keep the pressure on Wiscy. Also, I want to see how Kaleb Young rebounds after dropping his tough match to David Carr (ISU) last week. I’m willing to bet a fire was lit under his ass following that devastating loss and he’ll have his offensive kicked into high gear for Sunday.
In addition, I’d love to see Pat Lugo extend his winning streak to 3-0 against Cole Martin by pushing for the major. Lugo had lady luck on his side last weekend against Jarrett Degen, now I want to see him remove all luck and go get the job done without risk. Just raw bad ass wrestling is what we need.
FWIW- Wrestlestat has us winning 23-12.
133: #2 Austin DeSanto (2-0) vs #1 Seth Gross (6-0). Both of these guys are wrestling at an elite level and are two of the most exciting guys in this sport. Austin has blown up since coming over to Iowa, which has only added fuel to his polarizing fire. But, Gross is perhaps the best wrestler in college right now. He recently competed at the Bill Ferrell freestyle open and dominated his way to win, knocking off three former NCAA champs: Nick Suriano, Darian Cruz, and Nathan Tomasello. By doing so he has booked his ticket to the Olympic Team Trials in April. Now... he can concentrate 100% on the NCAA playing field.
Austin is going to be an underdog, but it’s well within reason to think he could keep this close late in the 3rd and with his drive and ability on his feet, anything can happen. However, he will eventually go under Gross and he has to find a way to escape. If he doesn’t, it could turn sideways on him in a hurry. If DeSanto hangs tight and even pulls off the upset, it’s going to be a monster boost to Iowa’s season ending goals. This 133lbs match is a powder keg!
Nevertheless, if ADS doesn’t go here, we could see either Paul Glynn or Gavin Teasdale. My guess would be Glynn. He has good defense and at this stage in their respective careers, can keep it closer. Either way, they’re going to be thrown to the wolf if that happens.
141: #14 Max Murin (1-0) // Carter Happel (4-1) vs #6 Tristan Moran (6-0) Moran is bringing an undefeated record into Carver-Hawkeye and is hoping to make a statement win in hostile territory. Murin obviously isn’t 100% healthy yet, but it would be nice see him make his return. A win by Murin would shoot him back up the rankings where he belongs.
Happel got the nod last week and looked good a dramatic loss to #18 Ian Parker (ISU), but Moran is a different animal. Happel has the talent to upset a top 10 opponent, but his work is cut out for him. Also, don’t be surprised if DeSanto bumps up to 141, to try and solidify a much needed win.
165: #3 Alex Marinelli (2-0) vs #2 Evan Wick (6-0). The Bull has looked solid to start the season, but he hasn’t looked stellar. Evan Wick on the other hand, is rolling. Of his six wins, five of them have been by bonus points: Three major decisions, one tech fall and one fall.
This is quickly turning into one of the best rivalries in wrestling. They’ve faced off four times with Marinelli winning the last three. Actually, all three of those wins came last season. Not only is this a fantastic battle between two of the best at this weight, it’s also a big time clash of styles. The Bull is what his name indicates, he wears down his opponents and bulldozes through his opponents late in matches. Wick on the other hand, is tall, lanky, and a stellar rider that can find ways to score near fall points in any position. Simply put, he’s a dangerous wrestler that looks to drive the score up.
The Bull needs to up his game and wrestle with a sense of urgency if he wants to beat Wick for the fourth consecutive time.
285: #11 Tony Cassioppi (2-0) vs #5 Trent Hillger (6-0). This is easily Big Cass’ biggest match of his young career. Hillger is a returning All-American, placing 8th last year. He’s 6-0 and is coming off a big win by pinning #9 Tate Orndorff (Utah Valley) last weekend.
Cass has the talent and athleticism to hang with almost any heavy weight in the country so I look for that to be on full display Sunday night in front of a home crowd that is quickly falling in love with him and his style. If Cass pulls off the upset here the expectations are going to sky rocket and it’ll vault him firmly into the top 10.
125: #1 Spencer Lee (1-0) // Aaron Cashman (3-0) vs Michael Cullen (4-2)
133: #2 Austin DeSanto(2-0) // Paul Glynn(1-0) // Gavin Teasdale(3-1) vs #1 Seth Gross (6-0)
141 #2 Austin DeSanto // #6 Max Murin (1-0) // Carter Happel (4-1) vs #6 Tristan Moran (6-0)
149 #3 Pat Lugo (2-0) vs #21 Cole Martin (5-1)
157 #3 Kaleb Young (1-1) vs #57 Garrett Mordel (2-4)
165 #2 Alex Marinelli (2-0) vs #3 Evan Wick (6-0)
174 #3 Michael Kemerer (2-0) vs #35 Tyler Dow (3-2)
184 #13 Nelson Brands (2-0) // Cash Wilcke (4-0) vs #24 Johnny Sebastian (2-1)
197 #4 Jacob Warner (2-0) vs #62 Taylor Watkins (0-5)
285 #11 Tony Cassioppi (2-0) vs #3 Trent Hilger (6-0)
By now I think most people know the story of Alex Marinelli and Eli Stickley. I won’t dive into that right now, but if you’d like to know more, I encourage everyone to stay tuned after the dual on BTN Network for the premiere of an original documentary “Alex & Eli.”