The #2 ranked Iowa Hawkeyes, aka the New York Yankees of Wrestling, head to Michigan this weekend to face the Wolverines on Friday (7 pm) and the Spartans on Sunday (1 pm).
These duals look a lot differently than what was predicted before the season. Michigan made some lineup/redshirt decisions with injuries to Adam Coon and Dom Abounader forcing their hand. All-American Alec Pantaleo joined the redshirts setting up a young lineup this year in favor of a high-powered lineup next season.
Despite the redshirts, there are a few intriguing story lines to work with here. The 165 lb weight class for the Hawkeyes has been a fixation so far this year with no established guy to hold the place down while two talented freshman redshirt leaving many to think that they will be forced to activate one of them to attempt to win a team National Championship this year. Alex Marinelli and Kaleb Young took 4th & 5th respectively this past week at the Midlands. Marinelli is a huge recruit that was a 4-time Ohio state champ. Young, in his own right, is a state champ from Pennsylvania. Iowa traditionally does not use first-year freshmen unless dire circumstances force them to, but the opportunity to win a National Championship this season seems like a good reason.
Of course, the caveat to this story is that 165 is by far the strongest weight class Michigan & Michigan State combine to offer. The Wolverines' Logan Massa has been on a tear including a win over NCAA finalist and 2-time Big Ten champ Isaac Jordan (Wisconsin) in the Las Vegas finals. Sparty's Drew Hughes is a true freshman out of Indiana who has only suffered two losses this year. He's a really tough top wrestler who used such skills to win the Reno TOC. Hughes and Marinelli actually wrestled at our IA Wrestle friends' Night of Conflict in 2015 with Marinelli winning that match 17-6, but that was a long time ago.
At 133, Cory Clark has yet to compete this season due to injury. Tom Brands said (reported by Andy Hamilton) he would be traveling to Michigan saying he was ready for the Midlands, but they wanted to be extra careful and hold off. Michigan's Stevan Micic (ranked #8) has just two losses on the year with one of those being when he pushed Tomasello (Ohio State) in the Las Vegas finals to just a 3-2 match.
At 157, Michigan's Senior Brian Murphy, an All-American in 2015, has been a top ten guy for a few seasons and always an interesting challenge. Iowa's Michael Kemerer has been very impressive undefeated on the year and winning the Midlands last week.
At 174, redshirt freshman Myles Amine has been a surprise to many knocking off several ranked guys for the Wolverines. Iowa has All-American Alex Meyer who is coming off of a 4th place finish at the Midlands. Intermat has it as #7 vs #11 so expect a good match.
The odds of Michigan and/or Michigan State pulling off the upset is certainly really long odds. However, interesting matches for Michigan lie at 133, 141, 157, 165, 174, and possibly even 197. Michigan State has some say at 141 and 165. So while the team scores won't likely be pretty, these duals should be fun to watch. Anytime Iowa comes to town with the Brands brothers in the corner, it's going to memorable.