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Big Ten powers Iowa, Ohio State to collide
The Big Ten dual meet championship hangs in the balance as two Big Ten wrestling powers collide tonight. No. 1 Iowa hosts No. 4 Ohio State at 7 p.m. CST at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa. The dual meet will be broadcast on same-day delay tonight on the Big Ten Network at 10 p.m. CST with Tim Johnson and Lee Kemp on the call. Both teams are undefeated in the Big Ten. Iowa is 21-0 overall and 6-0 in the Big Ten, while Ohio State is 18-1 overall and 7-0 in the conference. The Hawkeyes will be looking to win their school-record 60th straight dual meet. Below is a weight-by-weight prediction of tonight's dual meet. 125: Nikko Triggas (Ohio State) vs. No. 3 Matt McDonough (Iowa) With just two matches remaining in the regular season, McDonough remains undefeated at 27-0. On Sunday, the redshirt freshman had his way with returning All-American Zach Sanders of Minnesota, earning a 13-2 major decision over the Gopher sophomore. Triggas, a two-time NCAA qualifier, has been wrestling well and is on a pinning spree. He has pinned his last four opponents over the past two weekends to bring his season pin total to 12 and career total to 34. He ranks fifth on the all-time pins list at Ohio State. Bottom Line : McDonough is wrestling as well as anyone on the Hawkeyes right now. He should win handily as long as he stays out of the positions where Triggas is strong and does not get caught on his back. Prediction : McDonough (Iowa) major dec. Triggas (Ohio State) 133: Ian Paddock (Ohio State) vs. No. 3 Daniel Dennis (Iowa) Dennis, who is ranked No. 3, will be one of six Hawkeye seniors competing in his final dual meet at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. He is coming off his only Big Ten loss this season, which came at the hands of No. 1 Jayson Ness of Minnesota, 8-4, on Sunday. He comes into tonight's match with a 15-2 mark. Paddock, a true freshman, started his Big Ten season with three straight victories, but has since lost three of his last four matches. He was hammered by defending NCAA champion Franklin Gomez in his last outing, losing 14-2 on Sunday. Bottom Line : Dennis has won by major decision and put up double digit points against the last three unranked opponents he has faced in the conference. Look over Dennis to overpower the true freshman and pick up bonus points. Prediction : Dennis (Iowa) major dec. Paddock (Ohio State) 141: Pat Harrington/No. 2 Reece Humphrey (Ohio State) vs. No. 4 Montell Marion (Iowa) The big question entering this dual meet is whether or not No. 2 Reece Humphrey will take the mat for the Buckeyes. He was held out against Michigan State on Sunday after getting injured in a 14-9 victory last Friday against Ryan Prater of Illinois. Humphrey has been getting to his offense and putting points on the scoreboard lately. In his last three matches (not counting his forfeit victory), the Buckeye senior has scored 56 points. Harrington, who began the season at 125 pounds, got the start on Sunday and lost 7-2 to Dan Osterman of Michigan State. Marion has been wrestling very well of late and has climbed all the way to No. 4 in the rankings after winning seven of his last eight matches. The only hiccup during that span was an 8-6 sudden victory loss to No. 20 Adam Lynch of Penn State. He is coming off perhaps his most impressive victory of the season, a 15-7 major decision over No. 8 Mike Thorn of Minnesota, a wrestler who pinned him earlier this season. Bottom Line : Ohio State coach Tom Ryan has always stressed the importance of dual meets ... and this is certainly a very important dual meet for the Buckeyes. With that said, Ryan will not put a less-than-one-hundred-percent Humphrey out on the mat unless he believes the Buckeyes have a legitimate shot to beat the Hawekeyes. The gut feeling is that Humphrey will sit and Harrington will get the call. Prediction : Marion (Iowa) technical fall Harrington (Ohio State) 149: No. 2 Lance Palmer (Ohio State) vs. No. 1 Brent Metcalf (Iowa) Metcalf has not yet been tested in the Big Ten conference season. Of his seven conference victories, four have come by pin, two by technical fall, and one by disqualification. The undefeated and top-ranked Hawkeye will be looking for his 100th victory in his final match at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Palmer, much like Metcalf, has been dominating his Big Ten competition. He has pinned his last three opponents and has picked up bonus points in six of his last seven matches. Bottom Line : These two know each other well ... having faced each other three times during their college careers. Metcalf has won all three meetings, but Palmer has been competitive. All three matches have been within four points. Prediction : Metcalf (Iowa) dec. Palmer (Ohio State) 157: Sean Nemec (Ohio State) vs. Jake Kerr/Aaron Janssen (Iowa) Nemec has battled injuries all season, which has led to inconsistent training. When he has been on the mat, he has been solid, going 14-5. All five of his losses have come to wrestlers who have been ranked at some point this season. He picked up two conference wins last weekend, including a 6-0 shutout over returning NCAA qualifier Anthony Jones of Michigan State. Iowa has alternated Janssen and Kerr throughout the Big Ten season ... in hopes that one would step up, but it has not happened yet. Janssen has a better record this season, but Kerr has the biggest win, which came over sixth-ranked Cyler Sanderson of Penn State on January 29. Bottom Line : This is one of only two matches in the dual meet that does not include a ranked wrestler. This is not only a critical match in the dual meet, but also critical in the sense that both wrestlers who step on the mat will be showcasing their ability in hopes of earning a starting spot in the lineup for the Big Ten Championships. Prediction : Nemec (Ohio State) dec. Kerr (Iowa) 165: No. 6 Colt Sponseller (Ohio State) vs. No. 4 Ryan Morningstar (Iowa) The fourth-ranked Morningstar is coming off a weekend in which he picked up bonus points in both matches to improve to 22-3 on the season. Prior to last weekend, he had not earned bonus points in any of his five previous conference victories. All three of his losses this season have come at the hands of Big 12 opponents. He lost twice to No. 2 Jon Reader of Iowa State (before defeating Reader in the third meeting) and once to No. 8 Alex Meade of Oklahoma State. Sponseller, who is ranked No. 6, has won his last eight matches and sports a record of 24-3. His last loss came to Reader, 6-0, at the NWCA/Cliff Keen National Duals on January 9. Bottom Line : These two met twice last season, with Morningstar winning both matches, once in sudden victory and once in the tiebreaker. Expect another tight one. Prediction : Morningstar (Iowa) dec. Sponseller (Ohio State) 174: No. 11 Dave Rella (Ohio State) vs. No. 2 Jay Borschel (Iowa) Borschel has not only been winning, but he has been dominating his opponents. The Hawkeye senior is undefeated on the season (26-0) and has earned bonus points in his last five conference matches. On Sunday, Borschel completely dominated eighth-ranked Scott Glasser of Minnesota, 14-2. Rella, a senior, is wrestling well right now. He has gone 7-0 in Big Ten competition. Last weekend, though, he was tested in matches against No. 13 Jordan Blanton of Illinois and Ian Hinton of Michigan State, winning both in sudden victory. Bottom Line : Both Borschel and Rella are wrestling with a lot of confidence right now. The two met at the Big Ten Championships (consolation semifinals) last season, with Borschel winning that match 7-0. Prediction : Borschel (Iowa) major dec. Rella (Ohio State) 184: No. 7 Mike Pucillo (Ohio State) vs. No. 11 Phillip Keddy (Iowa) When the season began, many believed this would be the national championship match as they were the two highest returning placewinners at this weight class. Both certainly have the ability to still reach the NCAA finals, but at the beginning of the season it would have been hard to fathom that neither wrestler would be ranked in the top five and one would be outside the top 10. Both have had solid seasons, but have lost some tight battles. Pucillo dropped his first conference match last weekend to second-ranked John Dergo of Illinois, 6-2, on Friday, but bounced back on Sunday to pick up a 12-6 victory over Curran Jacobs of Michigan State. Keddy has gone 5-1 in the conference, but lost to the only ranked opponent (No. 10 David Erwin of Penn State) that he has faced in those matches. Bottom Line : Pucillo and Keddy have met four times during their college careers. Pucillo has won three of the four meetings, but Keddy took the last one, a 5-2 tiebreaker victory in the semifinals of the Big Ten Championships last season. Prediction : Pucillo (Ohio State) dec. Keddy (Iowa) 197: C.J. Magrum (Ohio State) vs. Luke Lofthouse (Iowa) Lofthouse will compete this weekend for the final time this season as Chad Beatty is expected to return to the Hawkeye lineup for the Big Ten Championships. He has gone 6-6 since stepping in the lineup and is 19-12 overall. Lofthouse has won four of his last five matches. Magrum, a redshirt freshman, moved up two weight classes after competing at 174 pounds during his redshirt season. Magrum dropped three of his first four conference matches, but has picked up steam lately, winning his last three. He comes into tonight's match with a season record of 16-10. Bottom Line : These two have similar results against common opponents, which probably means it will be a very competitive match. Prediction: Lofthouse (Iowa) dec. Magrum (Ohio State) 285: Corey Morrison (Ohio State) vs. No. 10 Dan Erekson (Iowa) Erekson, a returning All-American, has gone 6-0 since stepping in the lineup on January 24 after missing the first two months of the season. The only ranked wrestler he has faced in those six matches is No. 12 Cameron Wade of Penn State, who he defeated 6-1. On Sunday, Erekson was pushed hard by Minnesota heavyweight Ben Berhow, but the Hawkeye senior heavyweight prevailed, 5-3, in sudden victory. Morrison has been wrestling well of late, winning his last three matches to improve to 18-10 overall on the season, but he's still looking for his first victory over a ranked opponent this season. Bottom Line : Erekson didn't look great against Berhow on Sunday, but still pulled out a close victory against a quality heavyweight. Morrison seems to beat the heavyweight he should, but has struggled with ranked heavyweights. Prediction : Erekson (Iowa) dec. Morrison (Ohio State) Dual Meet Prediction: Iowa 29, Ohio State 6 Digg | Del.icio.us | Reddit | Newsvine | Email | Print
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