Get ready, the biggest week of the dual season is upon us. Unlike some weeks, this time around, we had a plethora of great duals to choose from when selected TOM’s Dual of the Week. Other options included #1 Penn State vs. #11 Arizona State, #3 Nebraska vs. #17 Northern Iowa, #5 Lehigh vs. #15 Princeton, or even #10 Oklahoma State vs. #12 Minnesota. Iowa and Iowa State gets the honor due to the ranking of both teams, the potential juicy head-to-head matchups, and the tradition between both schools.
Last years dual was one for the ages; it featured a wild match at 197, an unexpected return at 285 lbs, and a frantic attempt for a match-winning fall at 133 pounds. Ultimately, it was the Hawkeyes who came out on top Iowa State 19-18. To think I received a nasty email after posting Iowa/Iowa State as the match of the week last year from a fan who felt that it would be dull and not close.
Since the arrival of Tom Brands as Iowa’s head coach in the 2006-07 season, one thing has been consistent. That is his ability to top Iowa State. Brands’ team has won all 14 of their meetings with their in-state rival and 15 straight overall. This year's match will be held in Ames, a place where the Cyclones have not topped the Hawkeyes since Iowa assistant Ryan Morningstar was a junior in high school (2003-04). Brands will bring a loaded team into Ames, perhaps the best of his head coaching career. The only question is whether or not the Hawkeyes have enough firepower to overthrow Penn State. In Iowa’s first match of the year, the Hawkeyes shut out Chattanooga by the score of 39-0. A couple of the matches with the lightweights will help dictate whether this is another close, classic match, or another Iowa route.
The man attempting to lead the charge to upset the #2 ranked Hawkeyes is Iowa grad, Kevin Dresser. Dresser is in his third season at the helm of an Iowa State program that has undergone a rapid resurgence. The first year under Dresser saw only one ISU wrestler qualify for nationals, while year two had nine. With eight of those nine qualifiers returning, Iowa State starts the year ranked in the top ten and will not sneak up on anyone this year. In Iowa State’s first dual meet of the season, they turned away a young Bucknell team, 24-15. Of course, that score looks a little closer than one would imagine due to a disqualification at a match where the Cyclones were heavy favorites. Now that Dresser and his crew have helped elevate Iowa State back into the top ten, you can look forward to this dual, once again, being one of the marquee events on the DI wrestling calendar.
Here’s a breakdown of the probable matchups and TOM’s predictions, along with projections from WrestleStat.
125 lbs - #1 Spencer Lee (Iowa) vs. #7 Alex Mackall (Iowa State)
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