2022 Arizona State vs Michigan

Why Nick Suriano's Debut Against ASU Is So Important

Why Nick Suriano's Debut Against ASU Is So Important

Four reasons January 3rd is so important for Nick Suriano, Michigan, Arizona State, and the rest of NCAA wrestling.

Dec 29, 2021 by JD Rader
Brandon Courtney Excited For Michigan Dual

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#3 Michigan vs #5 Arizona State will be electric for multiple reasons, but chief among them is the return of Nick Suriano. Now at Michigan, it is expected that the 2019 NCAA champion will make his Wolverine debut on Monday, January 3rd when the two teams square off in Austin, Texas.

Nick Suriano isn’t just an enigma, he’s one of NCAA wrestling’s biggest superstars. His decision to return to college wrestling and where he would end up was one of the biggest storylines of the preseason. Here’s why it’s such a big deal that he is returning against ASU.

1. Suriano’s Opponent Will Be #5 Brandon Courtney

Suriano isn’t getting a tune-up match in his first match back to collegiate wrestling. Currently #5 in the rankings, Brandon Courtney is a returning NCAA finalist. Going into the finals, Courtney was riding an 18 match win streak that spanned the entire 2021 season and Pac 12s of 2020. He lost to Spencer Lee in the finals but was the only wrestler capable of holding Lee to a regular decision all season. 

Watch Brandon Courtney make the 2021 NCAA finals below.

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A native of Arizona, Courtney is sure to be fired up to represent his team and state against an opponent that he is most likely very familiar with.

2. Suriano Used To Train At Arizona State

Suriano didn’t just join Michigan in November, he left Arizona State to join Michigan in November. For about a year, Suriano did most of his training in Tempe under Sunkist Kids RTC coach Mark Perry and ASU head coach Zeke Jones. 

Listen to Zeke Jones discuss Nick Suriano training in Arizona below.

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Jones specifically mentions Courtney as a training partner of Suriano’s in the clip above. While I think Suriano will still have a technical advantage, Courtney’s familiarity with Suriano might give him an advantage that few in NCAA wrestling will share. Both Suriano and Courtney are no strangers to close low-scoring matches. I think that’s what we could see here. Every movement will be crucial.

3) Can Suriano Beat Spencer Lee?

If I’m right and Suriano - Courtney is a tight match, the outlook on Suriano’s chances to win the NCAA title doesn’t really change much. Suriano’s got a decent shot, but Spencer Lee is still the favorite to win his fourth title. However, if Suriano comes out and dominates Courtney, I think a lot of people will start to look at Suriano as a serious threat to a non-healthy Lee. 

Watch Nick Suriano and Spencer Lee’s 2018 NCAA final below.

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4) Can Michigan Win The Team Title In March?

Iowa fans shouldn’t just be concerned about Lee losing in March, but the Hawks as a whole. Michigan is nipping at Penn State and Iowa’s heels. Suriano winning the 125 lbs title would obviously be huge for their title hopes, and it starts with Suriano beating the returning NCAA finalist on January 3rd. After all, Suriano didn’t come back just to win an individual title.