Penn State just wrestled Minnesota in a dual last Sunday, coming out on the losing end, 17-16. I decided to chat up our old friend bscaff of Black Shoe Diaries fame to get the skinny on what the Gophers look like right now; we ended up doing a back-and-forth preview of each weight for Friday's #1 versus #2 throwdown. Enjoy.
J-Rob pulled a redshirt off a dude at this weight last week. You saw Ethan Lizak with your own two eyes last week -- can you understand why he pulled that shirt? How did Lizak look? How worried should I be about him pulling a Brancale on Gilman?
BSCAFF: I heard on Jason Bryant's recent Short Time Wrestling podcast with Brandon Eggum that Brancale is done (this year) with a shoulder injury, and that Jordan Bremer tweaked his back. Those two injuries kinda sorta forced Goldy's hand, and J-Rob's gang decided to "go for it". "It", I believe, was implied to mean the NCAA Championship.
Lizak looks like he would benefit from a redshirt year that Minnesota can't afford to give him any longer. Lizak's going to have a difficult time bringing an auto-bid to Big Tens, given Goldy's remaining schedule. And with Delgado presumably sucking one of those bids up at the conference tournament, Lizak's behind the 8-ball already in his quest to make the NCAA field. Pulling his shirt is a tough deal.
On the mat, Lizak's neutral style is similar to Gilman's - hand fight, sweep single from tie up. But as a true frosh, he's just not as good as Gilman at it. Lizak will ride legs on top, so prepare mentally for potential frustration about parallel rides not being called stalling. Finally, Lizak's a better scrambler than Brancale, but he's not a thrower. So you won't have to worry about Gilman getting caught by two different 5-point moves. I expect Gilman, who beat Lizak at Midlands 11-4, to extend that lead into a major decision on Friday night.
Chris Dardanes is 17-0 and ranked #1 at this weight, but... how much do you believe in him? He needed a furious comeback to get by Zane Richards a few weeks ago and a late takedown to get by Jimmy Gulibon last week. Is he really the top guy here or has he just been the most successful at dodging bullets so far?
BSCAFF: Jim Gibbons dropped an off-the-cuff pearl of wisdom during the Midlands broadcast that struck me like a bolt of lightning: you can't win a national championship by attrition. That is, a 6th place finish as a sophomore doesn't mean that you're going to win the title as a senior simply because the guys previously ahead of you graduated. You have to improve.
Tony Ramos is the positive example of that. Junior Ramos would kick the tar out of sophomore Ramos. Senior Ramos probably adds a riding time point on his way to bonus. I don't have the same feeling about Dardanes. He posted a 4-2 decision over Michigan's Rossi Bruno on January 9th. Ten days later Johnni bleeping DiJulius, the guy whose own teammates and announcers pan for his "unique" (read: boring) style, tech falled Bruno in 4:44. Both Dardanes are awfully tough suckers. But everyone is tough at NCAAs. Count me in your "most successful at dodging bullets so far" category. And, actually, I like Clark to validate that assessment Friday night.
According to InterMat, Jeva is 5th, just one spot behind Friday's opponent Nick Dardanes. That's mind-bottling. My thoughts are trapped in a bottle. Does it make sense to you?
ROSS: Remember that quote you had from Jim Gibbons at 133 about not winning a national championship by attrition? I think that applies to Jeva's ranking, too. He's ranked #5 in the country, but that's a function of beating the guys he should (more or less) and losing to the guys that are better than him (i.e., Logan Stieber). Outside of the Stieber loss, Jeva has lost to Illinois' Steven Rodriguez (a loss he avenged at the Iowa-Illinois dual meet a few weeks ago), Rutgers' Anthony Ashnault, and Lehigh's reshirting super-frosh Joseph McKenna. None of those are bad losses. On the other hand, he doesn't have any wins over top-10 guys at 141 and he mainly seems to keep rising because guys in front of him have been stubbing their toes and losing. This would be a big win to prove that he really does deserve a top-5 ranking.
I think Dardanes is beatable, but I don't expect much out of this match. In three matches against the other Dardanes brother (Chris) last year, Dziewa and Dardanes combined for 12 match points. This is most likely going to be a slow-paced match with plenty of hand-fighting and tie-ups; whoever gets a takedown in the third period (or perhaps sudden victory) will almost certainly win the match. Through two years, Dziewa's record against top-10 opponents is 3-7, with two of those wins coming over Rick Durso at Midlands last year and the other coming in a bizarre 1-0 win over Chris Dardanes; suffice to say, I'm not expecting big things here.
On Sunday I watched Goldy's Jake Short gas a bit against PSU's Zack Beitz, as Beitz turned a 2nd period deficit into a 9-4 victory - just short of bonus point territory. Bonus points, as always, are likely to be a big deal Friday, especially with Dylan Ness coming up next at 157. Do the Hawks need bonus from Sorensen here, and can he deliver it?
ROSS: I don't think they need bonus points from Sorensen at this weight, but it would sure help. I have Iowa winning the dual without bonus points from Sorensen, but that's also contingent on a Mike Evans win at 174, which is no sure thing. Bonus points from Sorensen would give Iowa some much-needed breathing room and might be the difference in an otherwise tied match. Can he get them? Possibly, but I'd probably bet against it. Short hasn't given up bonus points in any of his losses so far this year (although he's kind of trending the wrong way, since two of his worst losses of the year have been in his last three matches) and Sorensen hasn't been a rock when it comes to bonus points this year. Throw in the fact that Short has had some freestyle success against Sorensen in the not-too-distant past and it's hard for me to see Sorensen getting bonus here unless he's able to put Short on his back. I think a 4-5 point decision win is more likely.
Cody Law lost to Dylan Ness last week (of course), but he kept the damage to a 9-1 major decision loss, which is not too shabby. How'd he do that? Is there anything Mike Kelly can take away from that result?
BSCAFF: I was pretty sure that Law, a freshman, was going to get decked. Law pressured forward from neutral, and shot a couple of pretty good low singles. Below the knee, no elevator. Yes, freakishly long Dylan Ness reached behind, grabbed an ankle, cut the corner, and eventually turned Law's deep shots into his own takedowns. But, it took Ness 30+ seconds to do so, and never resulted in back points. Actually, Law was never very close to getting turned, though he did get ridden like a pony. It's weird, because as good as Ness is, he's not half ape like Alex Dieringer, nor flash of lighting James Green. Take away Ness' elevator and his (admittedly impressive) arsenal of throws by keeping solid position, and suddenly he's kinda almost like a regular dude (who is a 3x All-American, 2x finalist, and freakishly long, Gumby-like scrambler).
What's Nick Wanzek's deal at 165? He doesn't have any great wins, but most of his losses are respectable and he avoided giving up bonus points to Taylor Walsh and Alex Dieringer, which is no mean feat. What are his odds of upsetting Nick Moore?
BSCAFF: I thought PSU's Hammond had close to even odds at beating Wanzek. Nope - this was a blowout. Wanzek dominated Hammond with 3 takedowns and 1 reversal for an easy 8-4 victory. Wanzek shot, Wanzek scored. Hammond shot, Wanzek scored. Hammond loves to funk, and is great in scrambles. Wanzek never gave him the chance. He hit a couple of right-handed high crotches that were textbook. Do not dive for an ankle, do not scramble, do not collect $200. Go directly to bottom.
Speaking of right-handed high crotches, I'm not sure what to make of Nick Moore yet. I heard Brands tell a story about driving past Moore this summer while Moore was doing some Rocky IV style training, alone, somewhere in the hinterlands of campus. Bear crawling up a hill in a knit hat, and screaming "Unicorn!!!" at the peak, or some such. At the time, I bought in, and figured Moore would be the guy to beat at 165 in the Big Ten (with apologies to both Jordans). But I guess he got injured at Midlands, and then sat out the Okie State matchup with Dieringer? Whatever. That's a lot of words when I could have just to written, "I dunno what to make the odds of a Wanzek upset." I'd guesstimate it at 30 - 40%.
I haven't seen much of 'Stache this year, and checking his season results I know why - he has nine D1 matches on the books, not including a forfeit from jNW, and a season opening intrasquad match against Alex Meyer. We've both seen Evans and Storley (and Brown and Kokesh) wrestle each other a ton the last few years. So, I don't really have a question for you here. Instead, I'll share a bit of shocking news from last Sunday's Storley vs Brown match: Storley attempted first period shots of his own. Several of them, in fact. I bet Storley fired 4, maybe even 5 (!!!) shots in the first period against Brown. Given 'Stache's style, he has got to be hoping he sees a little bit of that action out of Storley Friday night, right?
ROSS: It's been a weird season for Evans. He's only faced pair of top-10 guys, Iowa State's Tanner Weatherman and Illinois' Zac Brunson, and he needed a third-period reversal and ride-out to beat the latter. He's coming off an absolute mauling of Oklahoma State's Jordan Rogers in his last actual match, but since Rogers is just a fringe top-20 guy, I guess that's not really saying a ton. In the next month, though, Evans should see Storley, Brown, and Virginia's Blaise Butler, all of whom are top-10 guys, so we'll get a much better feel for how he compares to the other top guys at this weight this season. An active Storley is an exciting proposition, both because it should make the match more fun to watch and because it should give Evans some chances to score on counters. Given the history between these two, we'll likely see a few crazy scrambles in this match; whoever can come out on top in those situations is going to win the match. I certainly hope it's The 'Stache.
This dual features a bonanza of top 5 individual rankings. But here at 184, we have a pair that Intermat thinks are borderline AAs. Is this the hidden gem of the evening?
ROSS: I think there's a good chance of that, yeah. Brooks and Pfarr are both pretty action-oriented, especially compared to other guys at the upper weights. They're young enough to possibly throw caution to the winds and just trade bombs, too, which would again be pretty damn entertaining. And if the match comes down to offense, I like Brooks' chances a lot -- he has a wicked single-leg and if he can get the match to the mat, he could definitely put Pfarr in a tilt-o-whirl and watch the points rack up. He might want to stay away from those big upper body throws, though. But I expect a lot of cagey, cautious wrestling in the other upper weight matches of this dual, so seeing these two go at it should be a nice jolt on Friday night.
Scott Schiller came into his match with Penn State's Morgan McIntosh last week on a nice little roll: 8 straight wins, all but three with bonus points of some variety. What did McIntosh do to knock him around and do you think Nathan "Master of the Late Takedown" Burak can make it two losses in a row for Schiller?
BSCAFF: Schiller couldn't keep McIntosh off his lower legs. Ankle pick, low single, sweep single, left or right - McIntosh got in deep on shots all the way thru the final whistle, and converted 3 of them for a 7-4 victory. Schiller never got into his gameplan from neutral, and his only points came from escapes.
In last year's dual at CHA, Schiller housed Burak, 16-5. He got to all kinds of neutral offense, and exposed him once or twice as well, if I remember correctly. Whatever - it was probably Schiller's best match all year. And I'm probably a moron, but I think there's something different about Short Time Burak from last year. Timmy McCall isn't the world's greatest 97, but that was still a hell of a comeback for Nathan at Midlands. Burak had to shoot, McCall knew it, and Burak still scored. If Nathan could convert one or two of those in the 1st period Friday night, then I think he takes it. But I don't get the sense that Burak can wait until minute 6 to start up his offense in this match. So, I'm leaning towards Schiller.
How grateful are you that college wrestling fans will never have to witness another Tony Nelson-Bobby Telford match ever again? Nelson's replacement, Michael Kroells, has had an up-and-down season, and he's especially struggled against top-10 heavyweights (0-5). How's he going to fare against Telford?
BSCAFF: Congrats, Hawk fans, the roles have reversed. Goldy's Kroells gets to play the part of Fr/So Telford in "Nelson-Telford: It Won't DIE!!!" - that's the Bobert who couldn't escape the spiral ride of doom, pre-Berhow. Kroells weighed in last Sunday a few cheeseburgers north of 250, so he'll be nearly invisible beneath Telford's circus tent-sized black singlet. So cackle, point, and laugh with joy during the big boys' match, Hawk fans. You've certainly earned that much.
Finally, give me your guess for the team score in the dual meet and your pick for the match of the night.
BSCAFF: I'm taking the Hawks, 19-13. Gilman and Ness both score majors. Iowa takes 125, 149, 165, 184, 285, plus one of 133 or 174. And, whoo-brother, I think the fur starts flying at 184. That should be a real treat.
ROSS: My pick for the team score is also 19-13 and I've got Brooks-Pfarr down as the most entertaining match of the night.
Thanks again to our pal bscaff from BSD. We'll certainly chat again ahead of Iowa's dual meet with Penn State in a few weeks.