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At least it's not football.

WHO: #24 Rutgers Scarlet Knights (9-0, 0-0)
WHEN: Friday, January 2, 7 PM CT
WHERE: The RAC (Piscataway, NJ)
RADIO: AM 800 KXIC (local), Hawkeye All-Access (non-local; $$)

Just a few days removed from dominating the field at the 52nd Midlands Championship, Iowa heads out east for a weekend road trip.  Tonight is the appetizer, against Big Ten newbie Rutgers, and Sunday is the main course, with a nervy-looking dual against a loaded Ohio State team. Tonight is Rutgers' Big Ten Big Ten opener and they figure to be very amped for that.  Rutgers has a gaudy record so far, but that 9-0 record has come against weak competition: Centenary (49-3), Delaware State (38-6), Stevens Tech (41-0), Hofstra (33-6), Oklahoma (20-18), West Virginia (19-16), Buffalo (27-9), Army (24-13), Davidson (46-3).

Iowa is 1-0 against Rutgers historically; they beat them 33-9 in 2009.

This thread will also serve as the open thread for the dual.


125: #4 Thomas Gilman (SO, 14-1) vs UN Sean McCabe (SO, 10-3) OR UN Josh Patrick (RS FR, 13-5)

Gilman lost a frustrating match to #6 Joey Dance in the Midlands finals, dropping a 3-1 decision deep in overtime. Hopefully a match against an overmatched opponent will be what the doctor ordered for Gilman's offense.

PREDICTION: Gilman via MAJ DEC (Iowa 4-0)

133: #4 Cory Clark (SO, 14-0) vs UN Scott DelVecchio (SO, 11-3)

DelVecchio is unranked, but he's kept his losses close (including to #3 Cody Brewer), so while I expect Clark to win, I don't necessarily expect bonus points.

PREDICTION: Clark via DEC (Iowa 7-0)

141: #6 Josh Dziewa (SR, 15-2) vs #11 Anthony Ashnault (RS FR, 13-2)

This is one of the most intriguing matches of the dual and one of two that could feature two ranked wrestlers.  Ashnault was a highly-regarded recruit coming out of NJ and he's gotten off to a solid start as a redshirt freshman -- he's only lost to #1 Logan Stieber and #4 Nick Dardanes and he has a few wins over ranked wrestlers as well.  Dziewa is ranked higher, but I'm not convinced he's much better than Ashnault.  This feels like a toss-up match and I'll lean Ashnault since he's at home.

PREDICTION: Ashnault via DEC (Iowa 7-3)

149: #10 Brandon Sorensen (RS FR, 19-2) OR UN Brody Grothus (JR, 14-2) vs UN Ken Theobold (SO, 13-3)

Is the race at 149 settled?  It doesn't seem like it.  Brands refused to name a starter after Midlands and the Match Notes list both Sorensen and Grothus as options for this match.  Grothus took a medical forfeit in his final two matches at Midlands, but there's been no word that he's dealing with a serious injury.  Still, Sorensen looked solid at Midlands and he seems like a slight favorite to start here.  Whoever starts should be able to beat Theobold.

PREDICTION: Sorensen via DEC (Iowa 10-3)

157: UN Mike Kelly (SR, 14-1) vs #13 Anthony Perrotti (JR, 12-3)

Kelly has remained unranked all season, although he'll probably crack the top-20 after his 3rd-place finish at Midlands.  This looks like another close match and a Kelly win would hardly be surprising, but Perrotti seems like the safer choice.

PREDICTION: Perrotti via DEC (Iowa 10-6)

165: #7 Nick Moore (SR, 12-3) vs UN Nicholas Gravina (RS FR, 7-1) or Ethan Orr (JR, 7-4)

Nick Moore is in a funk.  He stumbled to a 4th-place finish at Midlands and looks short on confidence at the moment.  I'm not sure a win here would do a lot to boost his confidence... but it couldn't hurt.

PREDICTION: Moore via DEC (Iowa 13-6)

174: #2 Mike Evans (SR, 14-0) vs UN Phil Bakuckas (SO, 15-3)

Mike Evans claimed a championship at Midlands, but he scuffled in the finals, winning just 2-1 thanks to a reversal.  Bakuckas is a solid wrestler and one who could crack the bottom of the rankings at some point this season, but he's not in Evans' league.  This weight could also be an opportunity to get a backup some run as well -- Alex Meyer had a strong showing at Midlands (placing 3rd) and would likely do well here.

PREDICTION: Evans via DEC (Iowa 16-6)

184: #8 Sammy Brooks (SO, 14-1) vs UN Anthony Pafumi (SO, 11-6) OR UN Hayden Hrymack (JR, 9-4)

Sammy Brooks lost just one match at Midlands, dropping a nail-biter to Jack Dechow in the semifinals, but he looked slightly sluggish in the consolation bracket -- he wasn't the aggressive, points-scoring firecracker that he was the day before.  Still, Brooks punishes lesser opponents and that's what he should be faced with Friday night.

PREDICTION: Brooks via MAJ DEC (Iowa 20-6)

197: #6 Nathan Burak (JR, 9-0) OR UN Kris Klapprodt (JR, 10-5) vs UN Andrew Campolattano (JR, 0-0)

Brands has remained coy about whether or not Burak will redshirt this season, even after this first-place finish at Midlands.  The decision to redshirt or not will be based on health and Burak and Brands know more than we do on that front.  Burak looked fine at Midlands, though, and I still expect him to wrestle the rest of the year.  If Brands isn't ready to make that call, though, Klapprodt could easily get the nod here.  Campolattano is a former Ohio State wrestler, dismissed there after drug trafficking charges (since dismissed) but returned to the B1G via new member Rutgers.  Camp is making his season debut here.  He'll likely be fired up (especially to wrestle in front of his family and friends), but if Burak wrestles for Iowa, I like his odds of letting Camp gas out and beating him late.  If Klapp wrestles, the same gameplan is still a possibility, but a Camp win is more likely.

PREDICTION: Burak via DEC (Iowa 23-6)

285: #3 Bobby Telford (SR, 14-0) vs #9 Billy Smith (JR, 8-0)

And here's the other match of the dual, featuring two top-10 wrestlers.  Telford is fresh off a Midlands championship and has looked very good this year.  Smith has a nice record and a nice ranking, but he hasn't wrestled (let alone beat) anyone as good as Telford.

Telford via DEC (Iowa 26-6)

The usual rules apply.