WHO: #2 Minnesota Golden Gophers (10-0, 6-0)
WHEN: Friday, January 30, 6 PM CT
WHERE: Williams Arena (Minneapolis, MN)
RADIO: AM 800 KXIC (local), Hawkeye All-Access (non-local; $$)
Yeah, this is a big dual. I've written a lot about it already, so let's just cut straight to the match-by-match preview.
125: #5 Thomas Gilman (SO, 19-1) vs. UN Ethan Lizak (FR, 22-8)
I'm not sure anyone on the Iowa roster is chomping at the bit to face Minnesota tonight as much as Thomas Gilman. Gilman suffered an absolutely stunning loss in last year's Iowa-Minnesota dual, not just losing, but getting pinned by unheralded Sam Brancale. That 9-point swing in the dual was enormous in a match between two such evenly-matched teams. Gilman won't get a chance to avenge that loss against Brancale, so true freshman Ethan Lizak will have to suffice. With the way Gilman has been wrestling the last few weeks, I think bonus points are a good possibility here.
PREDICTION: Gilman via MAJ DEC (IOWA 4-0)
133: #5 Cory Clark (SO, 16-2) vs. #1 Chris Dardanes (SR, 17-0)
Cory Clark hasn't had the best luck against top-10 opponents lately, dropping decisions to Illinois' Zane Richards and Ohio State's Jonni DiJulius and now he gets the #1 guy at this weight, Chris Dardanes. Dardanes' hold on the top spot is shaky, though -- he didn't have many wins of note until beating Richards and Penn State's Jimmy Gulibon in recent weeks and he needed late scores (and a big comeback in the Richads match) to do that. This would be a great win to get things going again for Clark, but I don't quite have the confidence in him being able to get it on the road.
PREDICTION: Dardanes via DEC (IOWA 4-3)
141: #5 Josh Dziewa (SR, 18-4) vs. #4 Nick Dardanes (SR, 16-1)
Jeva went 1-2 against Chris Dardanes a year ago (The Dardanes Boyz wrestled up a weight last year), but none of the matches featured many points. I don't expect much to be different here, even with Nick Dardanes getting the nod for Minnesota. I suspect this match will be decided by a takedown in the third period (or sudden victory) and Dardanes seems like the safer bet to get those points.
PREDICTION: Dardanes via DEC (MINN 6-4)
149: #2 Brandon Sorensen (RS FR, 24-2) vs. UN Jake Short (RS FR, 11-7)
Sorensen has one match left in January, a month that's seen him score big win after big win and rocket up the rankings at 149. Short has had an up-and-down season, but has had some freestyle success against Sorensen in the past. I don't think that's enough to stop the Sorensen Express from chugging along yet again.
PREDICTION: Sorensen via DEC (IOWA 7-6)
157: #15 Mike Kelly (SR, 17-3) vs. #1 Dylan Ness (SR, 22-0)
Mike Kelly's put together a pretty solid season up a weight at 157, but he's certainly a cut below the top guys at this weight. Illinois' Isaiah Martinez treated him like a ragdoll in two matches earlier this season. Now Kelly gets the top guy at this weight, a guy he wrestled several times when they were both down at 149 with no success. The job for Kelly here is simple, though: don't get pinned. Ness is a master at stacking guys up, but Kelly can't afford to give up six points for Iowa here. The score won't be pretty, but I think he'll avoid getting pinned.
PREDICTION: Ness via MAJ DEC (MINN 10-7)
165: #7 Nick Moore (SR, 14-4) vs. #17 Nick Wanzek (RS FR, 14-7)
Nick Moore's overtime win over Pierce Harger last week hopefully gave him some much-needed confidence going forward. Wanzek is a guy that Moore absolutely has to beat if he's going to finally get on the podium and become an All-American. It would be nice to see bonus points here, too, but I'm not willing to go that far.
PREDICTION: Moore via DEC (TIE 10-10)
174: #2 Mike Evans (SR, 18-0) vs. #4 Logan Storley (SR, 20-2)
Rankings-wise, this is the match of the dual. This is the fifth time Evans and Storley have wrestled and they've always been close. Storley won the first three encounters back in 2012-13 (4-3, 3-1, 3-2), but Evans finally got his first victory over Storley at the Iowa-Minnesota dual last year, winning 2-1 with an escape in overtime. That said, this match is still a complete toss-up -- I don't think Evans' win last year gives him any sort of significant edge in this rivalry. This matchup has always featured some wild scrambles and I don't expect it to be any different tonight -- the key to the match is going to be which guy can best control those scrambles and come out on top. I think Evans makes a statement at this weight with a key win over Storley.
PREDICTION: Evans via DEC (IOWA 13-10)
184: #8 Sammy Brooks (SO, 18-2) vs. #11 Brett Pfarr (SO, 19-5)
I've said elsewhere that this is my pick for the match of the night and I'm standing by that -- these two guys aren't afraid to push the pace and try and score points most of the time, which should lead to an entertaining, high-energy match, with a healthy amount of scoring (or at least scoring opportunities; both guys are pretty good at wiggling out of dangerous situations). I think Brooks comes out on top after a key takedown in the third period.
PREDICTION: Brooks via DEC (IOWA 16-10)
197: #3 Nathan Burak (JR, 13-0) vs. #6 Scott Schiller (SR, 16-3)
Burak is 0-4 lifetime against Schiller, going 0-3 in 2012-13 (3-1, 9-3, 3-1 SV) and 0-1 in 2013-14 (16-5), so this is going to be an enormous test of Burak's undefeated record. I think the 3-1 decisions are much more indicative of the difference between these two guys than the 16-5 major decision loss last year; these two just seem pretty evenly matched. Burak is bigger, stronger, and harder to score on this year. The key question to me is whether or not Burak can score on Schiller -- he's struggled mightily to do that in their previous four showdowns. I think the key to a Burak win in this match is his ability to keep it close into the third period -- if he can do that, maybe his late takedown mojo will kick in yet again and he can steal a decision here. I'm not betting on the guy that's 0-4 lifetime in this matchup, though.
PREDICTION: Schiller via DEC (IOWA 16-13)
285: #2 Bobby Telford (SR, 18-1) vs. #13 Michael Kroells (SO, 18-8)
Kroells is solid, but he's not on the same level as the top guys at this weight, as evidenced by his 0-5 record against top-10 heavyweights this year. I don't think he's going to break that streak against Telford, who should be hungry to get back on track after his narrow loss to Mike McMullan last week.
PREDICTION: Telford via DEC (IOWA 19-13)
Feel free to follow along with the results tonight in the comments.