What: NWCA National Duals Match-Up
When: February 19th at 6:30 PM
Where: Blacksburg, Virginia
A year after defeating Michigan in the NWCA Dual Championship series, Virginia Tech will take on a new foe from the Big Ten Conference. This year, fifth-ranked Nebraska will travel to Blacksburg to take on the sixth-ranked Hokies in what promises to be a tightly contested affair. The dual will feature five matches between wrestlers ranked in the TOM Top 20. Even more dramatic, four of those matches are top 10 showdowns. Nebraska boasts a lineup with seven wrestlers ranked in the top 20. Virginia Tech will counter that with their own seven ranked wrestlers. This dual is exactly what the NWCA is looking for when they make matchups, a marquee dual between two top programs.
Virginia Tech comes into this match on a roll. The Hokies have won 13 straight duals this season dating back to a November 20th loss at Missouri. They recently clinched the ACC dual title with their win over North Carolina State and capped off the regular season with a win over South Dakota State last week on senior night. Firing on all cylinders and fired up over what must feel like backroom machinations, the Hokies are going to be looking to make a statement.
Nebraska has suffered through back to back tough losses to Iowa and Ohio State. Each left a bad taste in the Huskers mouth and they too are looking for a statement win to punctuate their season. Nebraska will lean heavily on their four wrestlers currently ranked in the top five, but it will take a team effort to come out of the unfriendly confines of Cassell Coliseum with a victory. Nebraska came up short in the always raucous Carver-Hawkeye Arena a week ago and will want to silence the Virginia Tech crowd early.
The dual is bookended with top ten matches and there is an excellent chance that the final results will come down to heavyweight. We break down the matches and make our predictions below.
125: #3 Tim Lambert (Nebraska) vs #5 Joey Dance (VT)
This match may seem to favor the Huskers if you look at the rankings, but they do not tell the whole story at this weight. Joey Dance has just one loss on the season, a 4-2 match against fourth-ranked Darian Cruz (Lehigh). Tim Lambert has put together a very strong season with two of his four losses coming by way of top-ranked Thomas Gilman (Iowa). While the Dance loss to Cruz was surprising, I still believe he is the second best wrestler at this weight. Lambert rode Gilman last weekend which is important in a match against a strong neutral wrestler like Dance, but I expect the Hokie to be too much from that position. Dance by decision in the three to five point range.
Virginia Tech 3 - Nebraska 0
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