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It has been almost two years since Iowa and Penn State met in a dual meet. The Hawkeyes have won six of the last 10 times they met, but Penn State is on a two-dual winning streak.
Iowa will be ranked ahead of Penn State in seven of 10 matches this Friday, but Penn State has a clear path to victory in this dual.
Iowa Is Heavily Favored at 4 Weights
The bad news for Penn State fans is that Iowa will be heavily favored to win at four weights. Spencer Lee is a bonus-point machine and will be expected to earn either a fall or a technical fall at 125. Third-ranked Pat Lugo and fourth-ranked Kaleb Young will be heavy favorites over unranked Jarod Verkleeren and Bo Pipher at 149 and 157, respectively. Heavyweight Tony Cassioppi will be a similarly heavy favorite over #16 Seth Nevills, especially after his technical superiority win at the 2019 Junior Nationals.
Penn State Needs 141 and 174
The two weights where Penn State has the clear favorite are 141 and 174. At 141, #2 Nick Lee will see #3 Max Murin. Despite being ranked right next to one another, Nick Lee's dominant season and his two wins over Murin last season suggest that he'll get the job done again here.
At 174, two-time NCAA champion Mark Hall will be favored over #3 Mikey Kemerer. While Kemerer is one of the most interesting challengers at 174 this year, Hall's proven track record against top competition give him the edge in this one.
Will Cenzo and RBY Get Over the Hump against Marinelli and DeSanto?
In most dual meets, the Nittany Lions can count on wins from their top ranked 165-pounder and fourth ranked 133-pounder, but in this case, each will have two losses to his opponent on Friday.
Roman Bravo-Young's first loss to Austin DeSanto was a 20-point affair at the Big Ten championships. Their match two weeks later at the NCAA Championships had a wild third-period, but DeSanto ultimately came out on top.
Vincenzo Joseph and Alex Marinelli have also wrestled twice in their careers with Marinelli coming out on top both times. Vincenzo Joseph's two NCAA titles suggest that he's capable of beating Marinelli, but so far, he hasn't. For Penn State to win on Friday, a Cenzo win will critical.
Brooks and Rasheed Can Get Upsets
At the beginning of the season, Aaron Brooks would have been considered a favorite over Abe Assad, and Shakur Rasheed would have been considered by many to be a favorite over Jacob Warner.
Both #10 Brooks and #8 Assad are in their true freshman seasons, eligibility-wise. Wrestling fans have high expectations for both 184-pounders, but so far, Assad's win over Taylor Venz, who just beat Brooks, has him a couple spots ahead of Brooks in the rankings.
Still, 184 is a very winnable match for Penn State, and a match they will probably need in this dual.
At 197, 2018 All-American Shakur Rasheed will need to earn a win over 2019 All-American Jacob Warner. Rasheed has been recovering from surgery this season and hasn't been able to replicate his success from two seasons ago.
Warner has put together solid wins but has also dropped a few surprising matches including, most recently, a 3-1 decision to Nebraska's Eric Schultz. This match feels unpredictable, but if Penn State can get a win here, they just might win this dual.