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  • Photo: Photo/Tony Rotundo

    Photo: Photo/Tony Rotundo

    Best match to watch in every weight class this weekend

    Isaiah White gets in on a shot against Evan Wick in the NCAA consolation semifinals (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)

    After the big midseason tournament, the conference dual schedule really kicks into high gear. This weekend there are several key Big 10 matches as well as some interconference bouts. The following are some of the top matches on the dual meet slate this week.

    125: No. 1 Spencer Lee (Iowa) vs. No. 5 Devin Schroder (Purdue)

    After starting the season with three straight bonus victories, Lee took a hiatus from folkstyle in order to train for the 2019 Senior Nationals in freestyle. The two-time NCAA champion dominated his way to the tournament title and outscored his opponents 52-6 along the way. Lee returned to the collegiate mats at the Midlands Championship. He won his first three matches in less than six minutes combined. Lee then defaulted out of the tournament. Head coach Tom Brands has assured fans that it was a coach's decision, and the number-one ranked wrestler at 125 pounds will be good to go.

    After qualifying for the NCAA tournament for the first time last year, Schroder has worked his way all the way to the five spot in the rankings. He is 17-2 on the season, and he avenged his first loss of the season to No. 9 Michael Colaiocco (Penn) in the very same tournament. The Purdue wrestler has also knocked off No. 12 Alex Mackall (Iowa State) and No. 13 Brandon Courtney (Arizona State).

    Lee should be the clear favorite going into this match. Schroder has wrestled some of the top guys in the country tough, but it is hard to see him avoiding the tilts and turns from Lee. The real story here will be Lee's status. The teams wants it out there that he is fine, but a strong performance here would go a long way toward reinforcing that message.

    Prediction: Lee (Iowa) major decision over Schroder (Purdue)

    133: No. 3 Roman Bravo-Young (Penn State) vs. No. 5 Sebastian Rivera (Northwestern)

    After a strong start to last season, Bravo-Young somewhat struggled down the stretch. However, he still pulled it out and finished with an eighth-place finish to become an All-American. This year, he has plowed his way through the competition and built a 10-0 record. He has not faced the toughest schedule, but he was able to knock off No. 17 Josh Kramer (Arizona State) and score bonus points in six of his 10 matches.

    Rivera moved up to 133 pounds after finishing third last year down at 125. He has been out of the lineup as he has pursued a spot of the freestyle national team for Puerto Rico. However, Rivera has made the most of his time. He dropped an extremely close match against No. 1 Seth Gross (Wisconsin) at the Midlands, and he has bested the rest of his competition.

    This should be a pretty interesting contest. Both wrestlers like to do the majority of their scoring on the feet, so this might come down to a single takedown. Rivera is still not 100% filled out at 133 pounds, but his ability in the neutral position should drive him to a victory here.

    Prediction: Rivera (Northwestern) decision over Bravo-Young (Penn State)

    141: No. 3 Mitch McKee (Minnesota) vs. No. 11 Tristan Moran (Wisconsin)

    For his junior season McKee has started things off right. He has won 20 of his 21 matches on the year with his only loss coming against No. 1 Luke Pletcher (Ohio State). Not only has he been winning matches, but he has also been racking up the bonus points. His list of 20 wins includes eight falls and signature wins over No. 4 Dom Demas (Oklahoma), No. 5 Ian Parker (Iowa State) and No. 12 Sa'Deran Perry (Old Dominion).

    Moran transferred to Wisconsin from Oklahoma State for last season. He nearly became an All-American as he fell during the round of 12 at the NCAA tournament. This year Moran has started the season with a 13-2 record, and he has scored wins over the likes of No. 14 Zach Sherman (North Carolina) and No. 13 Grant Leeth (Missouri).

    These two went to overtime in their first meeting last year. It was tied at eight when Moran turned a deep whizzer into a roll and the fall. McKee got the better of the rematch at the NCAA tournament and walked away with a 7-6 victory. This match will almost certainly be close, but McKee has been wrestling some of his best matches so far this year.

    Prediction: McKee (Minnesota) decision over Moran (Wisconsin)

    149: No. 4 Brock Mauller (Missouri) vs. No. 7 Max Thomsen (Northern Iowa)

    Mauller suffered his first loss of the season in the South Beach Duals as he fell against Jaron Jensen (Wyoming). Despite the upset, he has held onto his top ranking due to his overall season performance. After becoming an All-American as a true freshman, he has won 14 of his 15 matches this year. It should be an interesting season, since there is a lot of new challenges at this weight, and he has missed most of them so far.

    Thomsen is looking to get back on the podium this year. After becoming an All-American as a freshman, he has seen his season end in the round of 12 in back-to-back years. Thomsen recently had a solid performance at the Midlands. He made it to the semifinals before dropping a close match against No. 1 Pat Lugo (Iowa).

    These two have a bit of a history. They have wrestled twice before with Mauller taking both matches. He scored a 9-3 decision last January and followed that up with a late-match fall at the NCAA tournament. If Mauller is back in that form, but there is a question he may be still recovering from that upset.

    Prediction: Mauller (Missouri) decision over Thomsen (Northern Iowa)

    157: No. 2 Hayden Hidlay (North Carolina State) vs. No. 5 Quincy Monday (Princeton)

    Since dropping a match against No. 1 Ryan Deakin (Northwestern), Hidlay quickly returned to form. Since the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational, he has won six straight matches and captured the tournament title at the Southern Scuffle. Along the way, he picked up a key victory over No. 7 Jesse Dellavecchia (Rider) via a 10-0 major decision.

    After dropping a match against Dellavecchia in the season opening Princeton Open, Monday went on a run through multiple duals that saw him defeat Dellavecchia in a rematch and knock off No. 6 Kaleb Young (Iowa). Monday had a bit of a hiccup as he dropped a match against No. 15 Markus Hartman (Army). However, he got back on track and defeated No. 8 Kendall Coleman (Purdue) in the third-place match.

    When Hidlay is at his best and getting to his offense, there are very few wrestlers who can hang with him at this weight. He has had some trouble with defensive wrestlers who are able to match him in the strength department. Monday has a lot of his success due to pace and scrambling. Look for Hidlay to control the pace of this match and take the decision victory.

    Prediction: Hidlay (North Carolina State) decision over Monday (Princeton)

    165: No. 3 Isaiah White (Nebraska) vs. No. 5 Evan Wick (Wisconsin)

    White is off to the best start he has had since transferring to Nebraska and moving up from the Division II level. His record currently stands at 12-0, and he has worked his way into the top three of the rankings. White has had limited opportunities against ranked competition, but he has made the most of them. He has already scored a pair of victories over No. 6 Josh Shields (Arizona State) and bested No. 13 Ethan Smith (Ohio State).

    Wick has already become an All-American twice during his career at Wisconsin, and he still has two more years left. This season he has gone 15-2, but both of his losses have been close matches against highly ranked wrestlers. He dropped a two-point match against rival No. 2 Alex Marinelli (Iowa) and dropped a one-point match against No. 4 David McFadden (Virginia Tech).

    This is an interesting match. On one hand, White holds the higher spot in the rankings and comes into this match with the more impressive record. On the other hand, Wick has the advantage in their series. White won their first meeting in 2018, but Wick has since won the next four matches. All of their bouts were close and one was in overtime. As always, Wick's ability to ride give him the edge in what is expected to be another close encounter.

    Prediction: Wick (Wisconsin) decision over White (Nebraska)

    174: No. 2 Michael Kemerer (Iowa) vs. No. 4 Dylan Lydy (Purdue)

    Since Kemerer missed an entire season with injury and then moved up two weight classes, Iowa has been understandably careful with their 174-pounder this year. He has wrestled only four matches on the year, and he recently sat out the Midlands. With that being said, his time of the mat has been outstanding. He has won all four of those matches with bonus points including a fall, two technical falls and a major decision.

    Lydy came into his senior season after back-to-back finishes in the round of 12. He has won all 20 of his matches and took the tournament title at both the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational and the Midlands. He benefited from Kemerer missing the Midlands, but they will likely face off here. Not only does Lydy have an impressive record, but his schedule has been tough. To reach 20 wins, he needed to defeat the likes of No. 20 Anthony Mantanona (Oklahoma), No. 14 Ben Harvey (Army), No. 12 Kimball Bastian (Utah Valley), No. 10 Anthony Valencia (Arizona State), No. 6 Mikey Labriola (Nebraska) and No. 5 Bryce Steiert (Northern Iowa).

    This will be Kemerer's first real test at this weight. He has passed the tests so far, but Lydy has been on a mission. With that being said, Kemerer's offense should create a lot of problems for the Purdue wrestler. Look for Kemerer to get out to an early lead and hold on for the victory.

    Prediction: Kemerer (Iowa) decision over Lydy (Purdue)

    184: No. 9 Samuel Colbray (Iowa State) vs. No. 12 Andrew Morgan (Campbell)

    It has been an up-and-down season for Colbray so far this year. He holds a 6-4 record, and he has dropped some tight matches against close competition. In his last match, Colbray scored an overtime win over Matthew Waddel (Chattanooga) who has proven himself to be a tough out so far this season.

    Morgan qualified for the NCAA tournament for the first time last season, and he is looking to take another step forward during his senior season. He has gone 17-5, but he has had some of his best performances against tough competition. Morgan has already defeated Jack Jessen (Northwestern), No. 14 Noah Stewart (Army) and No. 7 Nino Bonaccorsi (Pittsburgh).

    Matches like this one could easily turn out to be a preview of this year's round of 12. Both of these wrestlers will be on the bubble of All-American status at the end of the year. Colbray has been more steady this year, while Morgan has shown the better flashes.

    Prediction: Morgan (Campbell) decision over Colbray (Iowa State)

    197: No. 3 Patrick Brucki (Princeton) vs. No. 8 Nick Reenan (North Carolina State)

    Brucki finished his sophomore season with only three losses and a fourth-place finish at the NCAAs. He already has two losses on the year this season. Despite that he has cemented himself as one of the top wrestlers at this weight. Brucki already avenged a loss against No. 5 Jacob Warner (Iowa) as well as defeated No. 10 Ethan Laird (Rider) and No. 11 Dakota Geer (Oklahoma State).

    After wrestling in only one dual to start the season, Reenan entered the Southern Scuffle. He dropped a 1-0 match against Michael Beard (Penn State), but he scored three other major decisions before defaulting out of the tournament. Head coach Pat Poplizio has indicated that it was not due to an injury and more of a pitch count situation. The two-time NCAA qualifier certainly has the skill to be a player at this weight, but he has been slowed by injuries.

    Brucki should be the favorite in this contest. He has been much more active and much more successful as of late. However, Reenan is the type of wrestling who, if healthy, could give Brucki a lot of problems. The NC State wrestler is strong in the ties and does not get muscled around. This should be a good gauge to see where both of these competitors are at the moment.

    Prediction: Brucki (Princeton) decision over Reenan (North Carolina State)

    285: No. 7 Tanner Hall (Arizona State) vs. No. 15 Jere Heino (Campbell)

    The ageless wonder is back for one final season for the Sun Devils. Hall has gone 11-3 on the season. In his last outing, he defeated Gary Traub (Ohio State), but he failed to pick up the major decision that would have pushed Arizona State to another impressive dual victory. Hall has lost to all the ranked wrestlers he has faced so far, but that could change in the near future.

    Heino has already won a pair of tournaments on the year. He took first place at both the Navy Classic and the Reno Tournament of Champions. He dropped a pair of matches at the Midlands tournament, but he has maintained his ranking for the most part of the year.

    Hall holds a 4-1 edge over Heino in their series. However, three of the bouts were decided by a single point. Their last match went all the way to sudden victory before Hall took home the win. If you are a fan of heavyweight style wrestling this will be the match for you.

    Prediction: Hall (Arizona State) decision over Heino (Campbell)

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