The #20 North Carolina Tar Heels will test their skills against the #6 Pittsburgh Panthers this Friday. In my estimation while 165 & HWT will probably be blowouts for the higher rated team, the other eight matches should be rather competitive.
|#19 Jack Wagner Vs #33 Colton Camacho
North Carolina goes into this match favored, but not guaranteed. Colton Camacho pulls off a handful of upsets every season & this could be one of them. While I would predict Wagner to win this match, it wouldn't surprise me if Camacho pulled it off.
|U.R. Joey Melendez Vs #6 Micky Phillippi
We have an unranked wrestler taking on the #6, who in the opinions of many (including JT#1) is one of the best wrestlers in the nation yet to make All American. I do not see an upset here, but I do think Melendez can keep this match to a decision. NCAA DI wrestling is so loaded this season, that we're seeing a lot of quality wrestlers outside of the top 33 rankings. Melendez is one of them. On paper it would look to be a situation where one wrestler just destroyed the other. While Phillippi should win this one comfortably, I don't think that'll be the case.
|#13 Lachlan McNeil Vs #3 Cole Matthews
With six freshmen currently in the rankings, the 141 lbs class is just loaded with new, young and fresh talent. Thus far Cole Matthews has bested one of them (Tom Crook of Virginia Tech 6-2) & he'll get tested by another, as he'll take on Canadian sensation, Lachlan McNeil. A methodical and patient wrestler, I say Matthews will pick and choose his shots in what I predict to be a tactical match.
|#27 Zach Sherman Vs #29 Tyler Badgett
Rankings suggest that this will be a good, competitive match & I predict the same. Badgett has had an up and down season, 14-8 on the year, having gone 2-3 in his last five matches. Zach Sherman, who hasn't wrestled nearly as many matches, has pretty much faired the same way, currently at 4-3. Both recently lost close decisions to Virginia's Jared Verkleeren. At the current moment, both Sherman and Badgett could use a high caliber victory. Come Friday night, one of them will get it.
|#3 Austin O'Connor Vs U.R. Dazjon Casto
Here's a match that I can see going completely different than it did the last time these two met. At the 2022 NCAA championships, Dazjon Casto pulled off the biggest upset of his career, when he knocked off Austin O'Connor in an 8-2 sudden victory effort. The only thing that would top it or match it, depending on your personal perspective, is if he were to upset him again on Friday. I do not see that happening. O'Connor is 100% at the moment, both mentally and physically. 13-0 on the moment, he's on a roll, focused and determined. Casto on the other hand has seemed to have lost himself. Currently 5-6 on the season, he is struggling much more than anyone could have ever imagined. I do think there is potential for him to once again find himself this season, but I do not think it'll be in this match against O'Connor. My prediction? Vengeance be mine, sayeth the O'Connor.
|#8 Clay Lautt Vs U.R. Luca Augustine
I feel about this match the same way I feel about 133 lbs. On paper it would look like a #8 would just destroy an U.R. but on the mat, I think Augustine will keep it respectable against Lautt. Can't see Lautt ever being in danger during this match, but I don't think he'll blow Augustine out of the water either. 7-2, 5-1, I predict a score like that.
|#13 Gavin Kane Vs #18 Reece Heller
This is a match that interest me. Kane likes to slow the match down & go at a calculated, methodical pace. He doesn't mind winning a match by a point or two. Heller on the other hand wrestles at a faster rate of speed. Whose style will ultimately win out? I can see Kane frustrating Heller, as he's difficult to score on. I can see Heller going for some offensive moves & Kane being able to fend them off, thus slowing Heller down. However, if Heller is able to penetrate Kane's defense, I can see the match going his way.
|U.R. Max Shaw Vs #2 Nino Bonaccorsi
Now here's a meeting that you would think would end in a major decision, yet in two meetings thus far, it hasn't. Max Shaw has been able to keep it to a decision each time he's wrestled Nino Bonaccorsi. The matches have ended 7-1 & 9-3 in favor of the Panther. Therefore, I would think Shaw should be able to keep this to a decision once again.