This matchup has been all Iowa all the time. Iowa has a 24-0 record over Lehigh and the winning trend should continue Friday. The weather is not good at all in Bethlehem, PA, so it was smart for the Iowa team to leave Wednesday. The team got into town early Thursday, but without a few normal starters. Let's take a look at who's getting the nod Friday night.
WHO: #21 Lehigh (9-3)
WHEN: 6 PM CT; Friday, Feb 14th, 2014
WHERE: Bethlehem, PA
RADIO: AM-800 KXIC (free), Hawkeye All-Access ($)
TWITTER: @IowaWRLive, @hagertony
#3 IOWA HAWKEYES (12-2)
125: #5 Thomas Gilman (RS FR, 15-3)
133: #3 Tony Ramos (SR, 21-2)
141: #9 Josh Dziewa (JR, 21-5)
149: Michael Kelly (JR, 10-5)
157: #2 Derek St. John (SR, 22-2)
165: #4 Nick Moore (JR, 17-2)
174: #5 Mike Evans (JR, 21-3) or Alex Meyer (RS FR 21-6)
184: #4 Ethen Lofthouse (SR, 17-2) or Sammy Brooks (RS FR 17-7)
197: #16 Nathan Burak (SO, 11-3)
285: #3 Bobby Telford (JR, 17-3)
#21 Lehigh Mountain Hawks (8-5)
125: Darian Cruz (FR, 16-6)
133: #6 Mason Beckman (SO, 18-2)
141: Laike Gardner (SO, 13-5)
149: #13 Mitch Minotti (RSFR, 17-7)
157: #12 Joey Napoli (SR, 10-2)
165: Ben Hass (SO, 5-7)
174: #20 Elliot Riddick (RSFR, 16-8)
184: Zach Diekel (RSFR, 16-10)
197: John Bolich (SO, 15-9)
285: Doug Vollaro (RSFR 15-6) or Max Wessell (SO, 6-3)
#5 Thomas Gilman (RS FR, 15-3) vs Darian Cruz (FR, 16-6)
TONY: Don't read too much into this start by Gilman. From what I have been told and seen, Clark will be the guy at 125 lbs. for the rest of this season. Gilman shouldn't have any problem with freshman Darian Cruz. Gilman via decision.
ROSS: Cruz doesn't have any notable wins this year and against the top guys at this weight he hasn't fared too well -- #1 Nahshon Garrett beat him 10-3 and Nico Megaludis crushed him via 19-4 tech fall. If Gilman does indeed get the call here, I won't really be expecting bonus points, but he should get a solid decision win.
#3 Tony Ramos (SR, 21-2) vs #6 Mason Beckman (SO, 18-2)
TONY: This will be the first meeting between these two highly-ranked wrestlers. Ramos needs one more win to tie Ryan Morningstar for 25th on Iowa's all-time wins list. Beckman has only two losses on the year, one to A.J Schopp (5-0) and one to Alan Waters (2-0). I expect a tough match, but I think Ramos will be too much for the sophomore. Ramos via decision.
ROSS: This is a potential NCAA Tournament quarterfinal or semifinal showdown. Beckman was an NCAA qualifier last year and he has a very strong 18-2 record this year. His best win is probably a 5-2 win over Missouri's Waters, although he also has wins over Purdue's Cashe Quiroga (7-3) and Penn State's Jimmy Gulibon (7-6). Ramos has been a little bit more vulnerable than we expected this year and Beckman is good, but I think Tony is gearing up for one last push for greatness in March and he'll be able to take care of business here. Ramos by decision.
#9 Josh Dziewa (JR, 21-5) vs Laike Gardner (SO, 13-5)
TONY: Dziewa has had much tougher competition than Gardner this year and it will show on Friday. While I don't think this match is a layup for Dziewa, it should be a win for the Hawkeyes. Dziewa by decision.
ROSS: Dziewa returns to his home state for this dual; the last time he was in PA to wrestle (against Edinboro in December) he got put on his back. That was not good. Gardner isn't in Port's class, though, so we shouldn't have to worry about that happening again here. Hopefully. Probably. Dziewa could really use a convincing win here to erase the taste of that disappointing loss last Sunday. I'll favor him to take a decision here, but I don't know how impressive it will be.
Michael Kelly (JR, 10-5) vs #13 Mitch Minotti (RS FR, 17-7)
TONY: I'm not 100% sure why Kelly will apparently be getting the nod Friday, but my guess would be to give Grothus some rest. Grothus has faced some very tough competition over the last several weeks and we will need him fresh for the Big Ten Tournament. Kelly hasn't wrestled in over a month for the Hawkeyes. This is a match that Kelly should win, but given the layoff I see him losing tonight. Minotti via decision.
ROSS: I was looking forward to seeing where Grothus stood with another Round-of-12-type guy at this weight, but I can't argue with giving him the night off, he's wrestled an incredible gauntlet of Top 10 talent over the last month or so and there's more to come at the Big Ten Tournament. If a breather here helps him recharge his batteries, so be it. But if Kelly is getting the start here, I certainly don't have much faith in an Iowa victory. Minotti by decision.
#2 Derek St. John (SR, 22-2) vs #12 Joey Napoli (SR, 10-2)
TONY: DSJ has faced Napoli once before, beating him 6-0 in last year's dual. I expect a similar match between the two this year. DSJ has wrestled twice as many matches as Napoli and that will be the difference in this match. DSJ will dominate the whole match. DSJ via decision.
ROSS: Not that long ago this would have been a showdown of Top-10 -- maybe even Top-5 wrestlers -- at 157. St. John's mostly held up his end of the deal there, but Napoli hasn't, dropping down to 12th as of the most recent rankings. DSJ handled him pretty easily the last time they fought and while I don't expect a rout or bonus points from him, I do think he'll put together another solid win over Napoli.
#4 Nick Moore (JR, 17-2) vs Ben Hass (SO, 5-7)
TONY: Moore should be looking for bonus points in this match. Hass is nowhere near Moore's caliber and that is why I have Moore winning by major decision.
ROSS: Nick Moore, wrestling as confident and aggressively as I can recall seeing him in an Iowa singlet, against a sophomore with a losing record? Yeah, this looks like a good opportunity for Iowa to grab some bonus points. Moore should be looking to put Hass on his back, but I'll settle for a major decision.
Alex Meyer (RS FR 21-6) vs #20 Elliot Riddick (RS FR, 16-8)
TONY: My source tells me that Evans will not be wrestling on Friday, which seems odd since Evans is from PA and this would have been an opportunity to wrestle in front of some fans from home. It's possible that Brands may be giving him some much-needed rest heading into the Big Ten Tournament in a few weeks. Or maybe it's because Meyer already has a win over Riddick this year, having defeated him 5-3 (in sudden victory) at Midlands earlier this year. This should be another great battle, with Meyer coming out on top. Meyer via decision.
ROSS: I expected to see Evans get a rare chance to wrestle in front of some friends and family here, so I would be a little surprised to see Meyer get the nod instead, but if that's what Tony is hearing, then I'm happy to go along with it. Meyer and Riddick had a tight match at Midlands and I wouldn't be surprised to see that again. Riddick has a lot of close losses, including to some good wrestlers (like 8-5 to Penn State's Matt Brown). This looks like a great opportunity for Lehigh to win another match and I'll go along with that. Riddick by decision.
Sammy Brooks (RS FR, 17-7) vs Zach Diekel (RS FR, 16-10)
TONY: All signs are pointing to Brooks getting the nod again vs. Diekel. Brooks has been a great fill-in for the Hawkeyes with three wins over ranked opponents. Diekel has had a rough couple months and his life won't get any easier with Sammy Brooks. Brooks by decision.
ROSS: Sammy really has done a nice job of filling in for Ethen over the last month and a half and I would expect another solid performance here. Brooks has looked good against better opponents than Diekel, so I'd expect a strong showing here; Brooks by decision.
#16 Nathan Burak (SO, 11-3) vs John Bolich (SO, 15-9)
TONY: Burak has been grinding out matches since his return to varsity action. Is he not 100%? Burak needs to get some confidence back and he should get some against Bolich on Friday. Burak should win another decision here.
ROSS: "Grinding out" is a pretty apt way to describe Burak's matches over the last month or so; they've rarely been too pretty or very impressive, but wins are wins. It would be nice to pick for him an impressive win here, but it's hard to bank on that given his recent body of work. I'll take Burak via simple, boring decision.
#3 Bobby Telford (JR, 17-3) vs Max Wessell (SO, 6-3)
TONY: Telford has a chance against the sophomore to open up his offense and find some shots. Telford should be able to wear down Wessell and get an easy decision.
ROSS: Telford gets a respite from the parade of top-5 ranked shaved bears that he's seen in recent weeks and hopefully this match will be good for what ails him on offense. He could use a match like this to build some confidence in his offense. Telford via decision.
Neither Tony nor myself are predicting much in the way of bonus points. The matchups don't really seem to lend themselves to bonus points, but then again you never really know how results might pan out. Still, let's go ahead and set the over-under here pretty low: 31.5
DON'T FORGET: You can watch Iowa vs. Lehigh LIVE ON BHGP.