With the regular season approaching its end, the #15 Cyclones are up in the Twin Cities tonight to take on the #18 Gophers. This dual has been scheduled since last year, but due to the Pac-12 champion pulling out of the NWCA National Duals at the last minute it is now part of the Big Ten vs. everybody else National Duals series. So Big XII pride is on the line. Or something like that.
While the two teams are closely ranked, many of the matches in this dual are likely to end up one sided. Five of the ten matches will pit a top ten wrestler against an unranked or barely ranked opponent. Another three will feature a mid-teens ranked wrestler against an unranked or barely ranked opponent. Yet another will have a JuCo national champ going against a guy with a losing record. Add all that up and 125 pounds is the only match that is likely to be between two evenly matched opponents and might end up being the only regular decision of the dual.
Where: Minneapolis, MN
When: 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Febrauary 19th
|Weight||Iowa State Wrestler||Record||-||Minnesota Wrestler||Record|
|125||Kyle Larson||20-12||vs.||UR/UR/#29 Steve Polakowski||11-6|
|133||#7/#7/#7 Earl Hall||26-6||vs.||UR/UR/#27 Sam Brancale||15-16|
|141||Nathan Boston||4-5||vs.||#6/#7/#8 Tommy Thorn||29-7|
|149||Blayne Briceno||12-9||vs.||#16/#13/#14 Jake Short||29-7|
|157||Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer||16-10||vs.||UR/UR/#32 Brandon Kingsley||18-11|
|165||#10/#12/#10 Tanner Weatherman||25-7||vs.||Brandon Krone||11-10|
|174||UR/UR/#20 Lelund Weatherspoon||21-9||vs.||UR/UR/#27 Nicholas Wanzek||16-9|
|184||UR/UR/#29 Dane Pestano||21-11||vs.||Chris Pfarr||9-18|
|197||Marcus Harrington||6-7||vs.||#3/#3/#3 Brett Pfarr||30-2|
|HWT||UR/UR/#29 Quean Smith||16-8||vs.||#9/#8/#8 Micheal Kroells||26-6|
This is probably the only toss up match in the dual. And with Minnesota favored in five of the other nine matches it is a match Larson has to win if Iowa State is going to end their regular season with a victory. And outside of the implications this match has for the dual, a win here just might be enough to push Larson into earning an NCAA allocation when they are announced next week.
If we're lucky, Hall will repeat the results of the last time he wrestled Brancale.
Minnesota will be favored here, with #32 Kingsley expected to take the mat for them. But #32 isn't a very intimidating ranking and this'll be a chance for Breitenbach or Rodriguez-Spencer to pick up a good win and build momentum going in to the dead period between now and the Big XII Championship.
Iowa State will be favored in all of these matches along with 133. Since the matchups in this dual slightly favor the Gophers, the guys who take the mat at these weights will need to do more than just avoid upsets. They'll need to pick up some bonus points in order to give the Cyclones a chance to leave Minnesota with a victory.
At these weights the Iowa State wrestler will be a heavy underdog. So it'll be the opposite of the 133/165/174/184 situation. The Cyclone wrestler will need to avoid bonus points and maybe grab an upset win to get some momentum for Big XIIs.
The matchups don't favor ISU in this one. I think Minnesota wins six matches and takes the dual 20-13.
The Cyclones will be taking a week off and then headed to Kansas City for the Big XII Championships on March 5th and 6th.