If anything Brands ought to call up Chris Bono of Wisconsin & thank him for the Badgers giving Iowa a scare last week. Seems that Iowa always seems to compete better once they've had a fire lit under their ass & this time the flame came from Madison. You can bet the Hawkeyes are coming into Rec Hall prepared to do battle. We got Normandy on our hands.
I predict this dual to be exceptionally close. I've scored it a couple of different ways & each time whether it's Iowa winning or Penn State winning, I have the dual coming down to an 18-15 score. There are certain things that each team has to have happen in order to succeed. Let's take a look weight by weight.
U.R. Gary Steen Vs #1 Spencer Lee
What Penn State Needs: If by some miracle Gary Steen can last the entire match with Spencer Lee, he will be a hero for the blue & white, even if that match ends 14-0. Hell, even if the match ends via technical fall, he'd still be a hero. Each point in this dual is crucial for each team. There's a huge difference between giving up 6 & giving up 4. In a dual like this, there's even a big difference between giving up 6 & giving up 5.
What Iowa Needs: The Hawks need Spencer Lee to do what Spencer Lee does. That's go out onto the mat, put Steen on his back & say, "Slap the Mat Referee, I'm Spencer Lee."
#1 Roman Bravo Young Vs #17 Brody Teske
What Penn State Needs: There's probably a bit of resentment against Brody Teske. He was after all, at one time a Nittany Lion himself. I'm sure RBY wants to welcome him back to Centre County with a beating. RBY is going to want to turn it up & try and get the major.
What Iowa Needs: The idea of Teske upsetting RBY is extremely far-fetched. That just isn't going to happen, but the idea of him keeping this at a decision isn't. He's gonna have to for Iowa's sake.
#4 Beau Bartlett vs #2 Real Woods
What Penn State Needs: At 14-0, Beau Bartlett has been looking exceptional this season. Thing about it is though, he hasn't faced the toughest of competition yet. Woods will be his best test to date & it's going to take wrestling at his best to overcome the Hawkeye.
What Iowa Needs: Woods is currently 9-0 & I would argue has faced tougher competition than Bartlett. At times he's really turned it on & just dominated his opponents. Four tech falls, a major decision & a fall. Do I think he'll get bonus Vs Bartlett? No, I do not. However, he'll have to wrestle as if that's the goal.
#13 Shayne Van Ness Vs #7 Max Murin
What Penn State Needs: Well Bonnie Tyler, I found your Hero match. This is one of those vital confrontations that could very well be the match that either wins it or loses it for either team. SVN has the advantage of competing on his home mat in front of his home fans. We don't talk about it, we act like it doesn't happen & we turn a blind eye to it BUT the reality of the situation is, if a call is up in the air, ref's usually side with the home team. It'd be no different if this dual took place in Carver. That's just how things are. So, SVN has those advantages going for him as he heads into this match.
What Iowa Needs: Max Murin has plenty of his own advantages. He's been around the block a few times. Wrestling in front of a hostile blue & white crowd isn't going to phase him any. His experience will be his greatest ally. The fact that he can score for any position & that he absolutely refuses to give up any points without a fight. I've been calling him as good as an NCAA finalist all season long. It's matches like this he gets a chance to prove it.
#9 Levi Haines Vs #15 Cobe Siebrecht
What Penn State Needs: To burn Levi Haines redshirt. It's essential. I don't think Penn State can beat Iowa without him. There's no one else at 157 that I can see defeating Siebrecht. Even with Haines in the lineup, it's not a guaranteed W for the Nittany Lions. I give the advantage here to Haines. He's looked outstanding a couple of times this season, but he's also had some very close matches & he even had a loss to Northern Colorado against an unranked wrestler. He'll have to come in here and defeat an opponent that has had his own successes this season.
What Iowa Needs: Essentially the same thing Penn State needs. The Black & Gold are gonna need Siebrecht to step it up & wrestle at his best. He's gonna have to do what he did against Anthony Artalona, Garrett Model & Trevor Chumbley. Come in and win a match against a very, very tough opponent.
#5 Alex Facundo Vs #13 Patrick Kennedy
What Penn State Needs: The Nittany Lions are hoping for another Kennedy assassination on Friday night, but I don't see it happening. 11-1 Alex Facundo is extremely good, but I can't see him getting anything more than a decision on the Hawkeye.
What Iowa Needs: 12-2 on the season, Patrick Kennedy didn't look anywhere near as good in his 10-4 loss to Iowa State's David Carr as Facundo did in his 4-2 loss to the Cyclone. These types of results don't always mean anything though. Kennedy has done his homework, no doubt about it. He's studied and scouted Facundo as he's looked for any weaknesses within his style. If he's found any & Kennedy can figure out a way to expose them, we could see an upset here. Iowa needs that upset & Penn State can't afford to have it. I give the odds 75/25 in favor of PSU.
#1 Carter Starocci Vs #16 Nelson Brands
What Penn State Needs: The Nittany Lions need Starocci to come out and just take it to Brands. Light him up with takedowns and nearfalls in route to a big ole ugly major decision. They need him to immediately take Brands out of his element and keep him there an entire 7 minutes.
What Iowa Needs: The Hawkeyes need Nelson Brands to step out there and act like he belongs on the same mat with Carter Starocci. They need him to think he's Rocky Balboa, the Italian underdog against the greatest fighter in the world, Apollo Creed. He's gonna have to go out onto the mat and wrestle Starocci hard the same way he did Mikey Labriola when Iowa wrestled Nebraska. Keeping this match to a decision is vital for Iowa. Getting bonus here is vital for Penn State.
#1 Aaron Brooks Vs #12 Abe Assad
What Penn State Needs: Most of us can come to an agreement that Iowa is most likely gonna get 6 points at 125 lbs, right? I mean nothing is 100%, but in the laws of probability, I'd say the odds are pretty good. With that said, Penn State is gonna have to make up for those 6 points somewhere & 184 lbs is where that somewhere is most likely going to have to be. Brooks thus far has defeated Assad, 8-3 & 7-3. It's crucial for the Nittany Lions that he adds a few more points to the match to get that major.
What Iowa Needs: It's simple. Assad has kept it to a decision twice with Brooks & he's going to have to again. There's not much more to say to it other than that.
#4 Max Dean Vs #7 Jacob Warner
What Penn State Needs: The Nittany Lions can't afford the Max Dean that lost to Rider's Ethan Laird or to Lehigh's Michael Beard. They need the Max Dean who won the NCAA title last year. The Max Dean who owns both an 8-3 as well as a 3-2 decision over Jacob Warner. That's what Penn State needs.
What Iowa Needs: The Hawkeyes need the current Jacob Warner to pack his bags & say goodbye for the season & for the Jacob Warner who made the NCAA finals last season to make his long awaited return. The Warner we saw against Yonger Bastida of Iowa State & Zach Braunagel of Illinois ain't gonna cut it. That Warner could be in jeopardy of more than just a loss to Dean. However, the Warner who defeated Eric Schultz of Nebraska & Stephen Buchanan of Wyoming in route to NCAA silver last year? That Warner could beat Dean.
#2 Greg Kerkvliet Vs #3 Tony Cassioppi
What Penn State Needs: A lot can be learned from a loss & Greg Kerkvliet's recent loss to Michigan's Mason Parris may be for the best going into this dual. Kerkvliet was 3-1 against the Wolverine & it looked as if Parris may never figure him out. Then Parris hands him a 3-1 loss. It just goes to show that with enough hardwork & study of your opponent, you can figure out a way to beat him. Kerkvliet is currently 0-3 Vs Cassioppi. The Hawkeye has defeated him 9-0, 7-2 & 6-4. For Penn State's sake in this dual, Kerkvliet cannot let it become four in a row.
What Iowa Needs: The Hawks need Cassioppi to remain the thorn in Kerkvliet's side. As stated above, he's defeated Kerkvliet three times thus far & now he needs to make it four. It's absolutely essential that he does.
Penn State wins this dual I think the media will treat it as business as usual. If Iowa wins this dual, I think the wrestling media will have a heyday and I can see the outside media even making a big deal of it. To the degree of Rulon Gardner upsetting Karelin? No, but I do think it'll be big news. It was pretty big when Arizona State knocked off the Nittany Lions a few years back, but remember that took place in Tempe. This dual is taking place at Rec Hall. Sanderson doesn't lose at home, he just doesn't. So if he does, look for this to be headlines.