Christian Pyles, College Analyst
I said it last week and I’ll say it again this week, this college season has been churning out amazing events each week.
Iowa and PSU became a fast rivalry when Cael Sanderson brought them to legitimacy (and beyond) a few years ago. The meteoric rise for Penn State can be attributed to a few things, but one thing's for certain: Sanderson and Brands aren’t going anywhere for awhile. So this rivalry will only become more heated and legendary as time goes by.
Furtherfmore, the rankings discrepencies at those weights are marginal at 125, 157 and 174. The outcomes for these matches will tell the tale for this dual.
The dual can be seen live on the Big Ten Network and on IPads and other mobile devices on btn2Go.com
* Iowa wrestler listed first
125: #1 Matt McDonough v. #2 Nico Megaludis
McDonough really looked good against Thorn last week. Completely unphased when giving up the first takedown, he dominated the rest of the match. Megaludis has had a nice season so far with the one blemish being a loss to Anthony Zanetta. No doubt both guys have had this date highlighted for some time and Megaludis would love nothing more than to start this dual off right for the Nittany Lions.
McDonough, who has a history of slowly figuring key opponents out, has widened the gap from their first meeting. His Sophomore year he struggled early with Brandon Precin, losing at Midlands. In the next dual, he struggled as well and was in real danger of losing before he hit his trusty lefty headlock and pinned Brandon. In their Big 10 final, McDonough was able to keep Precin at bay and get his own takedowns, and his NCAA semi final victory was possibly his most dominating win. Not that he has struggled with Megaludis on the level he struggled with Precin (if one loss could really be considered a struggle), but his style is problematic at times, and I think Brands and company will have him prepared for the looks Nico will give him.
Matt McDonough WBD Nico Megaludis
133: #2 Tony Ramos v. #20 Jordan Conaway
141: #9 Mark Ballweg v. #19 Bryan Pearsall
Pearsall is not impervious to giving up bonus points either, so it’s possible Ballweg can get the ball rolling. Though Pearsall is ranked, his season has been fairly up and down this season with quite a few losses to unranked opponents. They have two common opponents Julian Feikert: Pearsall lost 7-4 and Ballweg won 8-3; and Anthony Salupo: Pearsall won 7-6 and Ballweg won by major. The more I look at this match up, the more I think Ballweg get’s the bonus point victory here. It’s a big mismatch stylistically, and if Ballweg goes after it, I see him getting the major decision.
Mark Ballweg WMD Bryan Pearsall
149: Mike Kelly v. #8 Andrew Alton
While Andrew had been competing in opens during his suspension (or whatever it officially was called), it was his first time back in the PSU singlet in awhile and the nerves that could be associated with that could have lead to his struggle and gas tank issues.
Additionally, Jake Sueflohn is not coming out of the tunnel at Carver Hawkeye. It’s Mike Kelly. Sueflohn is a skilled wrestler who pushes the pace and has worn out the likes of Hunter Stieber in his career with his relentless attitude and skills. Mike Kelly has had some solid moments this season, no doubt. However, he’s still struggling to get to score on his feet, and does not have the elite defense to prevent being taken down.
Predicting bonus points can be very difficult. As you can tell, I’m definitely wavering back and forth here. Kelly has prevented bonus against tougher wrestlers before (Molinaro, Oliver, Ness). However, Kelly has a tendency to get tossed on his back from his feet. His upper body skills are not well developed for someone who tends to go upper body as much as he does. Alton might be taylor made to exploit this flaw. I’m not mentioning all these factors to hedge all outcomes, but they are all relevant facts. My thinking is that Kelly will be able to ride the storm, stay off his back. I’m far from confident, but it’s how I see it playing out.
Andrew Alton WBD Mike Kelly
157: #1 Derek St. John v. #3 Dylan Alton
These two have two prior meetings with St. John winning both 3-1 in SV. I like DSJ in this spot as well. I think there’s been a solid improvement in his neutral game this year so far, and I see him getting the takedown in regulation. Alton is tough, and if he decides to fire off and be aggressive instead of settling for a low scoring match, he could pull the upset. A lot of times Alton is satisfied (unlike his twin) with letting the match come to him. Sometimes it works (James Green), other times it doesn’t (DSJ). DSJ is lethal with his counters so perhaps that’s why Alton is pretty conservative against St. John. At any rate, I like St. John in a 1 takedown match.
Derek St. John WBD Dylan Alton
165: #14 Nick Moore v. #2 David Taylor
If it takes Taylor a minute of riding to get NF2, that’s wasted time. DT could get 3 Takedowns in a minute's time against Moore (in my opinion), who I believe can be caught flat footed.
Moore is a strong kid, and I don’t think he’ll go to his back easy. So basically you can tell I’m not debating the result (Taylor's going to win with ease here), rather the degree of domination we will see. I think if DT racks up his takedowns, those takedowns will then flow into quick nearfall points. Then I think we could see the major or even a tech-fall.
The skill disparity is vast, Taylor just needs to go where he can score quicker. As the match wears on, Moore’s positioning will open up creating more opportunities for Taylor.
Taylor is the ultimate competitor and I see him looking for the big points, but falling short of the tech fall. I may be giving too much credit to Moore here, but I feel alright about this.
David Taylor WMD Nick Moore
174: #4 Mike Evans v. #7 Matt Brown
Brown has been solid, but is still yet to notch a signature win. Both guys are brawlers, maybe Brown moreso than Evans from a ‘beat-on-your-head’ standpoint. Brown likes his single leg as his go to, but he has a tendency to leave himself vulnerable at times. While Evans is not the most polished neutral wrestler, it is very evident he has made strides in this area and is only getting better.
In Brown's two toughest matches( Storley and Kokesh) he has put himself in poor positions and been put on his back. I’m not predicting nearfall necessarily, but I think Brown's overall sloppiness will put him at a disadvantage against Evans. I like Evans (a Carver-Hawkeye favorite) to take momentum back and get the win over Brown.
Mike Evans WBD Matt Brown
184: #15 Ethen Lofthouse v. #1 Ed Ruth
However, I’m not of the opinion that more fire in the belly is really a recipe for success against Ed. To be honest, is there a recipe for success? The answer is probably no. Ed got the major last year, but I think he is unquestionably better up at 184. Meanwhile, Ethen is unquestionably worse at 184 this year. Until I see otherwise I see Ethen getting dismantled in this spot. If Ed wants the tech, I think he’ll get it. He better want it, it’s there for the taking from what I have seen of both guys. This is an absolute mismatch in every aspect. I’m calling the tech with swipes.
Ed Ruth WTF Ethen Lofthouse
197: #19 Nathan Burak v. #3 Quentin Wright
Is that my sole reasoning for thinking this match won’t be a blow out? No, not really, but I think Burak brings a lot of things to the table that can help prevent getting blown out. He’s a good hand fighter for a young guy and has good hips.
Note that Burak struggled with Atwood who was a tough leg rider. Quentin likes to throw legs as well so this could be an area of difficulty for the Freshman.
In the end, I think Burak is still improving and will be ready to keep this one somewhat close.
Quentin Wright WBD Nathan Burak
#7 Bobby Telford v. #16 Jon Gingrich
Gingrich has had an up and down season. He’s notched some really solid wins beating Chalfant and McClure, yet has a loss to Jack Delia. I see this as a slow paced match. One kedown wins it and I think that takedown will belong to Bobby Telford. The stage will be set for high drama, yet I don’t see these two guys providing a very entertaining finale. Regardless it will feature two quality heavyweights with the season’s biggest dual on the line in wrestling’s most storied venue.
Bobby Telford WBD Jon Gingrich
Final Score: 20-15 Iowa
I feel pretty good about my match winners here. Obviously 125, 157,174 and maybe 285 could go either way, but I feel there is a slight favorite in each match. In each of those matches, I picked the Iowa wrestler. It doesn’t take a mathematician to figure out that if one of those matches swings for the Nittany Lions, they’re probably winning this dual.
I don’t know if we’ll have that signature “Carver Magic” match, but I think there are going to be some great moments. Each of the 10 bouts has its own individual wrinkle that makes the match interesting and must watch.
Is it Friday yet?