The National Duals this weekend are very exciting for the first time in a very long time. The top dual teams in the land will travel to Carver-Hawkeye Arena to try to defeat the #1 Iowa Hawkeyes and claim to be the best dual team. They will undoubtedly try to accomplish this in the land that Gable built, but do any of them have a chance to succeed?
In no particular order:
Minnesota (4 seed)
- The Gophers would have to defeat Cornell in the quarters which they should do, but not easily. The Big Red are favored in 4 of the matches so with an upset or two they could be the one in the semis with the Hawkeyes. When the Gophers hosted the Hawkeyes in Williams Arena I predicted a 5-5 matchup, but the Evans-Storley ot call went Evans' way. The Hawkeyes also won the bonus points battle by picking them up at 165 & 125. I don't expect Nick Moore to get another pin and maybe Dylan Ness will be healthier to pull off a pin against Kelly instead of the 11-9 slop with the dual out of reach (last match of the night). So let's say Storley beats Evans, Moore just gets a decision, and Ness gets a pin. That would mean a Gophers win, but that is a lot to go their way. It is possible though.
Cornell (5 seed)
- The Big Red would be favored in three matches against Iowa if they were to get by the Gophers in the first round. Garrett (125), Realbuto (157), and Dean (184) can very well win their tough matches, but I really don't know where the other points would come from.
Ohio State (3 seed)
- Iowa beat the Buckeyes 18-14 back on January 4th in Columbus. DiJulius was able to upset Clark and Burak was able to beat Snyder with the extra choice due to injury time. 125 & 184 were also close matches but those both went Iowa's way. The Buckeyes would need to pick up 2 of those 4 matches this time around and that is possible. It's unlikely, but it is certainly possible.
Illinois (7 seed)
- For Illinois to make the finals it would be an amazing run. They would have to defeat Missouri and Ohio State and then have to face the #1 team in the land at home. This healthier version of the Ilini is more capable than the team that fell to Iowa 25-12 a month ago. They picked up wins at 133 (upset of Richards over Clark), 157, and 165 (Morse over Moore's backup). They could (of course) win those three weights and then possibly 125 with the return of Delgado. That gives them 4 wins and Rodrigues at 141 is not that far off from Dziewa losing only 3-2 last time. Those 5 wins with bonus points from Imart could complete the most amazing run we have ever seen. It's not very likely, but that's what would make the run so amazing.
Lehigh (6 seed)
- Lehigh would have to have a similar to Illinois miraculous run to get to the finals, and once they got there they would only be favored at 184.
Missouri (2 seed)
- The Tigers are the only team not names Iowa yet to lose a dual this year. They have wins over Ohio State, Cornell, and Oklahoma State. This time around with the Buckeyes should be a battle and the match with a healthier Illinois team in the first round won't be a cake walk especially if Waters falls to Delgado. If they do conquer the two Big Ten teams to meet the Hawkeyes in the finals, it will not be an easy task. They would only be favored in 3 matches (125, 141, & 197) and those wouldn't be slam dunks. 149, 174 & 184 has the possibility for upsets, but this seems like it is a lot having to go right for them.
Chattanooga (8 seed)
- It's really cool that UT-Chattanooga was able to pull off the upset of Oklahoma in front of the Mocs home crowd. Their odds to beat Iowa though are not great. They have 2 ranked guys (at 125 & 133) but they will both be significant underdogs still. It's great to see the SOCON represented and the growing program for the Mocs though.
- There are a couple strange things here that factor in. The seeding is fine based on concrete results from this season, but dual meets come down to match-ups. I like Missouri to beat Illinois & Ohio State, but I think the Illini & the Buckeyes have a better chance to beat Iowa than the Tigers do based on how the lineups shape up. If I am right, Iowa's biggest test will be in the semi-finals against Minnesota. This should be some highly entertaining duals with a lot of great individual matches. Remember with just ten weight classes an upset or two can wildly swing things in the opposite direction. Yet ultimately prediction is chalk though with Iowa over Minnesota & Missouri over Ohio State in the semis and Iowa cruises past Missouri in the finals. I think Missouri, Ohio State, and Minnesota have a much better chance in St Louis than they do this weekend in Iowa City.