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Wrestling Preview: No. 1 Penn State at No. 2 Iowa

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just another Friday night dual between two top five programs, NBD.

welcome back, chef bardy
Heather Weikel | Black Shoe Diaries

Another week, another top three matchup for the Nittany Lions. This week, they take on the former #1 Hawkeyes (in Iowa City, naturally), and former PSU wrestling great Bo Nickal, for one, is excited.

That’s not bulletin board material or a terrifying jinx at all!

But Bo’s not the only one with some…bold…takes this important week (not Clay’s take, but rather the quoted one):

On the heels of last week’s very successful trip through the state of Michigan, there’s an even tougher test ahead. And similar to the dual meet last Friday, this week’s late challenge for PSU includes a lot of on-paper toss ups—but after their performance in Ann Arbor, the Penn State grapplers are the higher seeds in seven of the ten bouts.

That’s not to say that these are gimmes for the Lions—far from it. Just like a week ago, this match could go anywhere from 9-1 PSU to 8-2 Iowa, and it wouldn’t be a complete shock! Odd are, unlike last week, it lands somewhere in the middle. Though i’m not picking any upsets on here, I did decide to do something different and rank these bouts in terms of upset potential.

It’s no infusion of Star Wars quotes, but it is another discussion point around everyone’s biggest dual of the year!

How To Watch

What: #1 Penn State vs #2 Iowa*

Where: Carver Hawkeye Arena, Iowa City, IA

When: Friday, January 28, 9 pm

Audio: Free, via GoPSUSports

Video: Big Ten Network

Lineup

#1 Penn State WT #2 Iowa
#1 Penn State WT #2 Iowa
#7 - Drew Hildebrandt (Sr., Granger, IN) 125 #11 - Drake Ayala (Fr., Fort Dodge, IA) OR Jesse Ybarra (Fr., Tucson, AZ)
#1 - Roman Bravo-Young (Sr., Tucson, AZ) 133 #3 - Austin DeSanto (Sr., Exeter, PA) OR Cullan Schriever (Fr., Mason City, IA)
#1 - Nick Lee (Sr., Evansville, IN) 141 #2 - Jaydin Eierman (Sr., Colombia, MO)
#19 - Beau Bartlett (So., Tempe, AZ) 149 #10 - Max Murin (Sr., Ebensburg, PA)
Terrell Barraclough (So., Kaysville, UT) OR Tony Negron (Jr., North Babylon, NY) 157 #12 - Kaleb Young (Sr., Punxsutawney, PA)
#11 - Brady Berge (Sr., Mantorville, MN) OR Creighton Edsall (Jr., Wyalusing, PA) 165 #5 - Alex Marinelli (Miamisburg, OH)
#1 - Carter Starocci (So., Erie, PA) 174 #2 - Michael Kemerer (Sr., Murrysville, PA)
#1 - Aaron Brooks (Jr., Hagerstown, MD) 184 #17 - Abe Assad (So., Carol Stream, IL)
#2 - Max Dean (Jr., Lowell, MI) 197 #4 - Jacob Warner (Sr., Tolano, IL)
#3 - Greg Kerkvliet (So., Grove Heights, MN) 285 #5 - Tony Cassioppi (Roscoe, IL)

125 LBS

Upset potential ranking: 5

Ayala’s redshirt was pulled upon Spencer Lee’s season-ending surgery, and he’s wrestled admirably in his stead. No one is like Lee (except maybe Gable Steveson) but Ayala will get them some points in March. This bout will be a good test of how far Hildebrandt can go this year, and may just set the tone for the dual.

Prediction: Hildebrandt by decision

Score: PSU 3, Iowa 0

133 LBS

Upset potential ranking: 6

This upset potential ranking shows just how close some of these bouts could be, as a #1 vs #3 matchup. But RBY hasn’t lost to DeSanto since 2019 (in a very controversial outcome in Pittsburgh) and I don’t see that streak ending here, despite some expected Carver home reffing.

Prediction: RBY by decision

Score: PSU 6, Iowa 0

141 LBS

Upset potential ranking: 3

If this was 2021 Eierman, I’d have this as the most likely upset—but then again, if this was last year, Lee would be the underdog. But despite being a matchup of the top two guys at this weight, I’ve just not seen anything from Eierman that makes me think he can out-tank Lee. And his current undefeated record has an asterisk next to it.

Prediction: N. Lee by decision

Score: PSU 9, Iowa 0

149 LBS

Upset potential ranking: 4

Beau will keep this close, and despite the expected outcome, I think the PSUer will learn from this bout (especially the benefits of opening up one’s offense) and use it to have an excellent March.

Prediction: Murin by decision

Score: PSU 9, Iowa 3

157 LBS

Upset potential ranking: 9

I don’t think this bout will feel particularly close, though Bear Claw will make a valiant effort at the end, when Young gets a last few seconds takedown to win by four or five.

Prediction: Young by decision

Score: PSU 9, Iowa 6

165 LBS

Upset potential ranking: 7

Berge could absolutely beat Marinelli, but I think the odds are that any such victory happens in Detroit. Especially since the then-#1 165er lost in his last outing—-he’s good enough to fight thru and not lose two in a row.p (if the Bull had beaten Kharchla, I’d likely increase this upset potential). This bout comes down to a single takedown, either way.

Prediction: Bull by decision

Score: PSU 9, Iowa 9

174 LBS

Upset potential ranking: 2

I’m putting the at a two based solely on Kem’s talent and potential. I’m not so sure he’s as good this year as last (when he beat Carter at the Big Tens, but lost in St Louis)—and Carter is undeniably better. This may be generous in rankings, but anything from a close, last-second Ken win to a borderline major decision for Starocci wouldn’t be that incredibly surprising to me.

Prediction: Starocci by decision

Score: PSU 12, Iowa 9

184 LBS

Upset potential ranking: 10

Aaron Brooks is PSU’s best shot at an individual title this year. Don’t just take it from me!

great idea, fanswin! I think retroactively an Iowa wrestler should’ve had to leave the NCAA tourney last year when Berge got injured. Only fair, right?

Prediction: AB by major decision

Score: PSU 16, Iowa 9

197 LBS

Upset potential ranking: 1

I debated moving this down on the list, but the jury’s still out for me on how Max responds to his first loss of the season to now top ten Cam Caffey. His ranking didn’t suffer (likely to a muddled field at 197) and I expect that if this matchup occurs in March, Dean beats Warner pretty handily. But how he takes to the PSU coaching philosophy will be on display this weekend.

Prediction: Dean by decision

Score: PSU 19, Iowa 9

285 LBS

Upset potential ranking: 8

Let’s be honest—being ranked 2nd or 3rd makes no difference for Kerk. But it’s still irritating on paper that the ASU coaches’ decision to have Schultz seemingly duck Kerk at the collegiate duals have made him number two, ahead of the PSUer. Le sigh.

Much like last Friday, Cass won’t know what hit him and this one won’t be particularly close.

Prediction: Kerk by decision

Score: PSU 22, Iowa 9

Overall score prediction: PSU 22, Iowa 9


*The Penn State athletic department, in its official capacity, uses Intermat Tournament Rankings in all its match literature; I’m using Intermat’s Dual Meet rankings because this happens to be a dual; luckily for this dual, Penn State is #1 in both rankings, and Iowa is #2 in both.