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Iowa Wrestling: No. 2 Iowa vs No. 21 Illinois - Preview, HTW Guide & Match Thread

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Iowa looks to finish their weekend road trip with a second beat down.

Syndication: HawkCentral Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK

Iowa made quick work of Northwestern on Friday and things went as well as could be expected. Ayala and Murin both pulled off upset wins over top 10 opponents and bonus points came freely from the upper weights. More curious than concerning at present was the absence for the second straight dual of DeSanto at 133. Eierman also got a break Friday to rehab an injured finger but traveled with the team this weekend. No word of injury has come out at this time nor is there reason to suspect anything serious for DeSanto. Covid can also be ruled out as he’s been with the team, not quarantined. Let’s hope they’re both rested and back in action again soon.

Meanwhile, Cullan Schriever at 133 became the second true freshman to have his redshirt pulled this year joining Drake Ayala. Once a rarity under Tom Brands, giving young guys mat time is becoming increasingly common and his hand is being somewhat forced to do whatever is necessary to keep Iowa in the title hunt. Drew Bennett also got his first start in the varsity lineup at 141. Unfortunately, neither were able to come away victorious but do have the luxury of a short turnaround time before their next matches. We will likely see them each get a second chance vs Illinois.

The Illini lost their Friday dual to Rutgers 21-13, taking 4 of 10 matchups.

PROBABLE LINEUPS:

125lbs: #11 Drake Ayala vs #24 Justin Cardani

133lbs: Cullan Schriever vs #5 Lucas Byrd

141lbs: Drew Bennett or #2 Jaydin Eierman vs We Rachal

149lbs: #13 Max Murin vs Christian Kanzler

157lbs: #11 Kaleb Young vs Joe Roberts

165lbs: #4 Alex Marinelli vs Danny Braunagel

174lbs: #2 Michael Kemerer vs D.J. Shannon

184lbs: #19 Abe Assad vs #18 Zac Braunagel

197lbs: #3 Jacob Warner vs #20 Matt Wroblewski

285lbs: #5 Tony Cassioppi vs #17 Luke Luffman

TEAM Outlook:

Once again, Iowa should have little trouble claiming a team victory. Illinois doesn’t offer much in the way of heavy hitters or consistent depth over their roster. If things are going particularly well through the first half of the dual, Iowa could even rest a starter or two in the upper weights.

KEY MATCHUPS:

125lbs: #11 Drake Ayala vs #24 Justin Cardani

Expectations are at a high enough level for Ayala that I debated even listing this top 25 matchup as one of exceptional significance for him. But, after facing three straight top 10 opponents, it’ll be intriguing to know how he looks against a guy he “should” beat.

133lbs: Cullan Schriever vs #5 Lucas Byrd

Schriever was a highly regarded recruit and has held his own even in losses wrestling unattached. This is a future building match for him, particularly given that Byrd is a redshirt freshman. We may see these two face off a good number of times in the coming years. Bout one happens now.

184lbs: #19 Abe Assad vs #18 Zac Braunagel

Abe’s ranking seems low but there haven’t been many opportunities for him to build upward just yet. For now, he’ll need to hold serve vs Braunagel. More than winning, putting on a show would do himself well. Assad has shown great versatility mixing up attacks, threatening upper body moves, and is riding well. His confidence seems to be increasing also and that is a dangerous thing for his future opponents.

Broadcast Info

Opponent: #21 Illinois

Dual time: 3PM God’s Time (Central) // Sunday January 16th, 2022

TV: BTN

Location: State Farm Center // Champaign, Illinois