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  • Photo: Sam Janicki

    Photo: Sam Janicki

    Dual of the Week: #15 Penn at #2 Iowa

    Iowa 149 lber Max Murin (left) and Penn's Doug Zapf (photos courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com)

    The Thanksgiving holiday has slowed down college wrestling this week as only three duals take place between today and Sunday. Luckily, we still have a fun dual to discuss for our “Dual of the Week,” as #2 Iowa hosts #15 Penn. Even with a balanced Quaker squad potentially suiting up nine returning qualifiers, most fans would likely give Iowa a relatively easy win. That won't be the case this afternoon. Tom Brands' team has been without three key starters (two of which are ranked top-two; #1 Spencer Lee/125 and #2 Real Woods/141) and are still trying to sort out a couple of other weights (133/157). Against a Penn team without any glaring holes, this could be a problem.

    Going match-by-match through the potential starters, there is a possible path to victory for Roger Reina's Quakers, as they need to sweep down low and limit bonus points up top. Of course, that's easier said than done against 184-285 lbers all ranked in the top eight nationally. Another factor has to be the location. Iowa fans will pack Carver-Hawkeye Arena in their first opportunity to see the 2022-23 Hawkeyes against a ranked foe. Giving Penn all of the toss-ups while competing on college wrestling's most challenging home mat seems like a foolish endeavor.

    We'll probably talk about the Hawkeyes again within the next week as Iowa hosts cross-state rival #9 Iowa State next weekend. Could Iowa get caught looking ahead to their date with the Cyclones? If so, that could spell upset today. Having witnessed Brands behind the Iowa bench for more than a decade and a half, that seems far-fetched. Penn also has some quality competition on the horizon (#12 Wisconsin and #25 Rutgers next Sunday), but this is the most high-profile opponent on their schedule.

    Below is a match-by-match breakdown of the “Dual of the Week,” between Penn and Iowa.

    125 - #17 Ryan Miller (Penn) vs. Aidan Harris (Iowa)

    Assuming we start at 125 lbs, this weight should present the best opportunity for Penn to collect bonus points. 2022 national qualifier Ryan Miller has been solid in his second year starting for the Quakers and holds a 5-2 record. Neither loss was particularly bad and he's generally beaten the opponents you'd expect him to defeat. Miller has been able to post bonus points in two of his five wins this year, but only 17% of the time in 2021-22. Iowa likely sends out Iowa Central transfer Aidan Harris, who has seen action in three duals meets this year. Harris has surrendered a pin to Army West Point's Ethan Berginc and lost decisions over four and five points. Penn's best chance for pulling out a win assumes a big lead in the lowerweights, so they could gain plenty of momentum from an impressive result from Miller.

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