What is Dispatches from Blogfrica? Pretty simple: I ask questions of an blogger for an opposing team; he (or she) answers. A truly revolutionary idea, no? Today: Brandon from The Champaign Room, SB Nation's fine blog for all things Illinois.
1) Can you give us an update on the injury situation? Is Jesse Delgado going to wrestle? Have you heard when he might be back and if he'll be at top speed by the time the Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments roll around? Are there any other notable injuries among Illinois wrestlers?
BRANDON: Delgado was listed as a meet-time decision against Rutgers a week ago, but did not wrestle. He's close to a return. I don't see him coming back on the road against top 5 competition like Thomas Gilman. If he doesn't return against Minnesota, Illinois next meet, the next three meets look promising: Nebraska, at Northwestern and Maryland.
2) Among the lower weights (125-141), what's the match that you're most looking forward to seeing? How do you think it plays out?
BRANDON: IF Delgado were to wrestle it would be seeing him, obviously. And, even then you've got to lean to 133-pounds: Cory Clark vs Zane Richards, a rematch of the Midlands Championship bout and Richards' lone loss this season. Richards has looked sharp lately and takes this one 4-2.
3) Similarly, among the middle weights (149-165), what's the match that you're most excited about? How do you think it plays out?
BRANDON: While undefeated redshirt freshman Isaiah Martinez falls in the middle weights, he's already dominated Mike Kelly. My focus lies at 165-pounds with Nick Moore vs. Jackson Morse. A rested Moore against a frustrated Morse should be a good bout. Morse, on his birthday, major decisioned Rutgers' Nick Gravina between two losses to Indiana's Taylor Walsh. This one is a toss up, I'll take the homer pick here, Morse 5-3.
4) And finally, what about the upper weights (174-285), what's the match you can't wait to see? How do you think it plays out?
BRANDON: At 174-pounds there is another Midlands rematch. Mike Evans was able to sneak by Zac Brunson with a 2-1 decision at Midlands, handing Brunson his lone loss of the season. I think Evans holds off Brunson again, this time by a 3-2 score.
5) OK, prediction time -- how are things going to shake out?
BRANDON: Iowa wins this one and the score line can look devastating to the Illini if they drop both Midlands rematches at 133 and 165. Gilman earns a major decision at 125, Illinois' Richards wins a decision at 133l then Josh Dziewa extends Iowa's lead to 7-3. Brandon Sorenson keeps things rolling for the Hawkeyes with a major decision and Illinois answers with a major decision from Martinez and a decision from Morse. Iowa would be up by one point. Evans makes it a four-point lead for Iowa, Illinois' Nikko Reyes picks up a decision to make it 14-13, but Nathan Burak and Bobby Telford close the door with a decision and fall, respectively, for a 23-13 win to celebrate Sally Mason's retirement.
Thanks for being a good sport, Brandon, but I still hope your team gets mollywhopped tonight. You can check out the The Champaign Room crew at The Champaign Room. You can also follow The Champaign Room on Twitter at @Champaign_Room and Brandon at @BrandonMCain. The Iowa-Illinois dual meet is in Iowa City, IA on Friday, January 16, and is scheduled to start at 7:00 pm CT, with TV coverage from Mediacom 22 and streaming coverage from BTN2Go.