WHO: #7 Ohio State Buckeyes (4-2, 0-0)
WHEN: Sunday, January 4, 1 PM CT
WHERE: Value City Arena?
RADIO: AM 800 KXIC (local), Hawkeye All-Access (non-local; $$)
TV: no TV; BTN2Go or BTN Plus online ($$$)
After dispatching Rutgers on Friday night, Iowa's east coast sojourn continues with a trip to Columbus to take on Ohio State today. The Buckeyes are ranked just #7 in the dual meet rankings, but that's the product of missing a few key players due to injury early in the year and sustaining two losses in dual meets (to Missouri and Virginia Tech). Even those losses have a caveat, though -- both came via criteria after the duals were tied after ten matches. This is a very good team and they're still going to be a serious contender for Big Ten and NCAA championships in March. But this might not a bad time to face them in a dual meet -- they're not operating at top form right now and they've also been off for several weeks (their last competition was a 12/14/14 dual against Missouri).
Let's break it down weight-by-weight:
125: #4 Thomas Gilman (SO, 15-1) vs #8 Nathan Thomasello (RS FR, 14-3)
This is the first official collegiate showdown between these two -- but almost certainly not the last. This looks like it could be quite a rivalry for the next few years. They have history against each other from their freestyle days, where Gilman has been victorious. That should give Gilman some confidence for this match. This seems like it should be a tight match -- the key for Gilman is going to be whether or not he can get to his offense. He looked great in that regard on Friday, but Thomasello is few steps up in class from his Rutgers opponent.
PREDICTION: Gilman via DEC (Iowa 3-0)
133: #4 Cory Clark (SO, 14-0) vs #9 Johnni DiJulius (JR, 16-1)
Clark sat out the dual against Rutgers on Friday night, apparently because of a skin infection issue. If that hasn't cleared up by today, then he'll have to sit out again, which means that undersized Philip Laux could end up wrestling again here -- or he could wrestle Thomasello at 125 and Gilman could bump up to 133 and face DiJulius. Neither option is that appealing, frankly. Hopefully Clark gets a clean bill of health and is able to wrestle here; if he does, I think he grinds out a close win over DiJulius.
PREDICTION: Clark via DEC (Iowa 6-0)
141: #6 Josh Dziewa (SR, 15-3) vs #1 Logan Stieber (SR, 11-0)
Jeva's lost three matches already this week and Stieber is going to make it four -- the only question mark is how bad the damage will be. Stieber is phenomenally skilled and great in all positions, so it certainly wouldn't shock me in the least to see him pick up a technical fall or a pin here. That said, Jeva has typically been good at avoiding getting blown out and his tendency to take the air out of matches could actually be a benefit here. I think he might just keep the damage to a major decision.
PREDICTION: Stieber via MAJ DEC (Iowa 6-4)
149: #10 Brandon Sorensen (RS FR, 20-2) OR UN Brody Grothus (JR, 14-2) vs #5 Hunter Stieber (JR, 0-1) OR UN Blake Riley-Hawkins (RS FR, 3-4)
Brody injured his ankle during his loss to Jason Tsirtsis at Midlands, so this should be another run-out for Brandon Sorensen. Sorensen look good in steamrolling his way to a major decision win on Friday night, but Stieber would be a big step up in quality. That said, Stieber has been dealing with injury issues all season and didn't look good at all in his last match (he got pinned by Missouri's Drake Houdashelt), so even if he goes here I don't think this is a slam-dunk win for Ohio State. If he doesn't wrestle, Sorensen becomes the favorite here -- and could get bonus points. I'm feeling good about Sorensen right now, so I think he'll record a decision win -- even if Stieber is the opponent. (I changed my mind after giving my picks to LGHL earlier.)
PREDICTION: Sorensen via DEC (Iowa 9-4)
157: UN Mike Kelly (SR, 15-1) vs #6 Josh Demas (SR, 9-0)
The controversy over the starting job at 157 is over: it's Mike Kelly's. He grinded his way to a solid 3rd place finish at Midlands and looked good in knocking off a ranked opponent on Friday night. He's wrestling at a high level right now. Unfortunately, Demas doesn't look like a very good matchup for him -- Demas is much slicker and and quicker than Kelly. To win, Kelly is going to need to keep things tight, outwork Demas, and wear him out in the third period. That's doable, but I think the safer bet is that Demas lands a few quick takedowns and Kelly isn't able to catch up.
PREDICTION: Demas via DEC (Iowa 9-7)
165: #7 Nick Moore (SR, 13-3) vs #9 Bo Jordan (RS FR, 5-0) OR UN Justin Kresevic (SO, 10-10)
Like Hunter Stieber, Bo Jordan has been dealing with some injury issues this season, but is expected back for this match. Jordan is a blue-chip recruit who looked impressive while redshirting a season ago and good in his brief debut earlier this season. Nick Moore is Nick Moore. If he wrestles intelligently and confidently, he should have a chance to score a tight win here. If he gets sloppy, though, Jordan can absolutely make him pay. I see Moore getting caught flat-footed in the third period, allowing Jordan to record the winning takedown.
PREDICTION: Jordan via DEC (OSU 10-9)
174: #2 Mike Evans (SR, 15-0) vs #12 Mark Martin (JR, 11-6)
Martin is solid, but he's lost to far worse wrestlers than Evans a few times this year. The worry here is that Evans' struggles from neutral continue and this is a close match in the third period, giving Martin a chance to steal the match with a takedown. If Evans is able to get a few takedowns here, he should cruise -- and this could be bonus points for Iowa.
PREDICTION: Evans via DEC (Iowa 12-10)
184: #8 Sammy Brooks (SO, 15-1) vs #12 Kenny Courts (JR, 12-2)
It's time for another episode of The Sammy Brooks Show. Courts is solid, but Brooks is wrestling very well right now. I think he pushes the pace and wears down Courts, leading to a solid decision win. This could be another bonus point opportunity for Iowa if Brooks is able to get a few takedowns and work his deadly tilts.
PREDICTION: Brooks via DEC (Iowa 15-10)
197: #6 Nathan Burak (JR, 9-0) OR UN Kris Klapprodt (JR, 10-6) vs #7 Kyle Snyder (RS FR, 14-1)
This could be one of the marquee matches of the dual -- if Tom Brands actually pulls Nathan Burak's redshirt and has him wrestle here. Will he do that? Your guess is as good as mine. The Burak situation is about as clear as mud at the moment. If Klapprodt goes, this is a loss for Iowa and very likely bonus points for Ohio State. Snyder is a another freshman phenom and he's absolutely fantastic on his feet. Burak-Snyder would be an interesting tactical battle, though. We'll see it eventually, I suspect -- I just don't know if that will be today.
PREDICTION: Snyder via DEC (Iowa 15-13)
285: #3 Bobby Telford (SR, 15-0) vs #10 Nick Tavanello (SO, 13-5)
The dual concludes with Telford taking on another fringe top-10 heavyweight -- just like Friday night. And just like Friday night, I expect Telford to pick up a solid decision win.
PREDICTION: Telford via DEC (Iowa 18-13)
This is also your open thread for the dual. I'll be providing results and observations in the comments; join the fun!