The 11th-ranked Huskers travel this weekend for the first time in Big Ten play to face No. 2 Iowa at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
After a slow start to the season, Nebraska looked great to start Big Ten play with wins over No. 11 Northwestern and No. 12 Minnesota. The Huskers are 6-2 on the year, while the Hawkeyes are a perfect 10-0 in duals. Iowa has wins over No. 4 Iowa State as well as wins over tough teams in Penn and Northwestern.
The Hawkeyes boast a lineup where all 10 wrestlers are ranked with seven in the Top 10. Nebraska, on the other hand, has six ranked wrestlers with four in the Top 5 of their weight classes.
Now, don’t get me wrong, the Hawkeyes are certainly favored over Nebraska in a dual format, but this dual is definitely winnable for the underdog Huskers with a couple upset wins. Iowa has won 13 straight against the Huskers, dating back to 2005, including a 20-15 win last year in Lincoln.
The dual will air on BTN at 8 p.m. tonight.
Rankings according to FloWrestling
In one of the best matchups of the dual, Nebraska’s No. 3 Liam Cronin will take on the juggernaut that is No. 1 Spencer Lee.
Lee is a three-time NCAA champion and two-time Hodge Trophy winner. He’s 8-0 on the year and hasn’t lost a match since 2019. In his eight matches this year, he has five wins via pinfall in the first period as well as a tech fall and two major decisions.
The NCAA’s Wrestler of the Week last week, Cronin is 13-2 on the year and just knocked off then-No. 3 Pat McKee and then-No. 4 Michael DeAugustino to start Big Ten play.
Cronin is 0-3 against Lee with two losses by pinfall and another via tech.
Honestly, I’d consider this a win for Nebraska if Cronin can last the full seven minutes against Lee.
Here at 133, Nebraska’s Kyle Burwick is an honorable mention in the rankings after becoming eligible and losing two close matches against ranked opponents. Burwick fell to Minnesota’s No. 16 Aaron Nagao in overtime before a 6-1 decision loss to No. 11 Chris Cannon of Northwestern.
Burwick will face Iowa’s No. 12 Brody Teske tonight. The junior is 2-0 on the year after transferring in from Northern Iowa.
Burwick started the season 10-0 in open tournaments before his two Big Ten losses, and he just might be able to get back on track against the ranked Hawkeye.
The Huskers may just need a win from Burwick if they want a chance in this dual.
This one will be the match of the night as Nebraska’s No. 4 Brock Hardy takes on No. 2 Real Woods of Iowa.
Hardy has been a revelation for the Huskers this year as he’s won 18-straight matches and is 19-2 on the year. He started Big Ten play with back-to-back shutouts of No. 10 Frankie Tal Shahar (6-0 decision) and No. 11 Jake Bergeland (9-0 major decision).
Woods is 7-0 on the year after transferring from Stanford this summer. He’s coming off a 17-2 tech fall win over Tal Shahar.
This match really will decide the favorite in the Big Ten at the 141-pound spot. If the Huskers want to beat the Hawkeyes, they’ll need a win here too.
Last weekend, Nebraska’s Dayne Morton put his best foot forward in Big Ten play when he knocked off then-No. 18 Michael Blockhus of Minnesota 5-4. He followed that up with a close 4-2 decision loss to No. 4 Yahya Thomas. After a 3-7 start to the year, Morton showed he’s capable of competing with some of the best in the Big Ten.
Morton will likely take on No. 10 Max Murin. The senior Hawkeye is 12-2 on the year and is coming off a 3-2 decision loss to Thomas.
Morton will certainly be the underdog here, but after his performances last weekend he certainly has a chance against Murin.
Nebraska’s No. 1 Peyton Robb has separated himself from the pack at 157 pounds. Robb beat both No. 9 Trevor Chumbley of Northwestern and No. 10 Brayton Lee last weekend, both by 2-0 shutouts.
Robb (17-0) will face Iowa’s No. 13 Cobe Siebrecht tonight. A junior, Siebrecht is 7-1 on the year and just beat Chumbley 6-3.
Robb will be the heavy favorite here, and the Huskers may just need bonus points out of him to stay in the dual.
Wrestling for the Huskers, Bubba Wilson has been up and down this year. He’s currently an honorable mention in the rankings with his 9-8 record.
Wilson will likely face off against No. 10 Patrick Kennedy. The sophomore Hawkeye is 11-1 on the year with his only loss a 10-4 decision to No. 3 David Carr of Iowa State.
This is another weight where the Hawkeyes will be heavily favored, but Wilson has proven to be able to keep matches close, even against top-level competition. If Wilson can pull the upset, then the Huskers will have a much easier road to victory in the dual.
Here’s another weight where Nebraska will be heavily favored and might need bonus points out of No. 2 Mikey Labriola as he takes on No. 17 Nelson Brands of Iowa.
Labriola is a perfect 17-0 on the year with a win over NCAA champion Mekhi Lewis of Virginia Tech. Brands is 4-2 on the year for the Hawkeyes with both losses to ranked opponents.
Labriola needs to take one for the team and put Brands on his back.
This match may just be a toss-up as Nebraska’s No. 15 Lenny Pinto takes on Iowa’s No. 8 Abe Assad.
Pinto has been up and down this year but has proven that he has a very high ceiling. He’s 10-6 on the year after going 1-1 this past weekend. He fell to No. 11 Isaiah Salazar of Minnesota 7-6 on a last-second takedown before downing Northwestern’s Jon Halvorsen via 16-3 major decision.
Assad is 13-1 on the year with his only loss to No. 3 Marcus Coleman of Iowa State.
This match looks to be a must-watch.
In a dual full of great matches, here’s another one as Nebraska’s No. 13 Silas Allred takes on No. 10 Jacob Warner.
Allred is 16-4 on the year and is coming off a pair of Big Ten wins over honorable mentions in Michial Foy of Minnesota and Andrew Davison of Northwestern.
A three-time All-American and last year’s NCAA finalist, Warner is 10-2 on the year with a pair of 1-point losses to Top-10 guys.
The redshirt freshman Allred has had an impressive season, but this would certainly be his biggest career win if he pulls it off. And the Huskers may just need a win here if they want to win the dual.
Nebraska will send out senior Cale Davidson tonight to face No. 3 Tony Cassioppi. An honorable mention in the rankings, Davidson is 8-11 on the year and started Big Ten play with a 9-6 decision over Minnesota’s Garrett Joles.
Cassioppi has been dominant for the Hawkeyes with a 14-0 record. Cassioppi is fresh off a 4-3 win over No. 4 Lucas Davison. Davison beat Nebraska’s Davidson on Sunday via pinfall in 43 seconds.
Much like at 125 pounds, this one can be considered a win for Nebraska if Davidson avoids giving up bonus points.