Who: #1 Iowa 11-0 (8-0) vs #18 Minnesota 9-6 (4-3)
Where: Carver-Hawkeye Arena |Iowa City Iowa
When: Saturday, February 15, 2020 –  8:30 PM CT
Watch: BTN – TV

Cassioppi will face #1 Steveson after taking his first loss last week against Michigan – Cam Kramer Photo

This weekend in Iowa City, the top ranked Iowa Hawkeyes can clinch the regular season Big Ten dual title with a win over #18 Minnesota. The Hawks enter the contest unbeaten including marquee wins over Wisconsin, Nebraska, Ohio State, and Penn State. Most recently they are coming off a top 25 win over the Michigan Wolverines in Ann Arbor where they won eight of ten matches.

The Gophers come into this match with a 4-3 conference record, taking losses to Ohio State, Michigan, and most recently Penn State at home. They come into the dual with five ranked wrestlers though they have been without at least one of those wrestlers for a majority of the season.

To begin the season it was #1 ranked Gable Steveson who was absent from the lineup, but currently the Gophers have been without the likes of Pat McKee at 125 pounds. The redshirt freshman lost by technical fall to Purdue’s Devin Schroder back on January 31st and miss the next two duals against Indiana and Penn State. It’s uncertain whether or not McKee will return for this dual thought he staff clearly doesn’t see the situation as dire enough to pull true freshman Matthew Ramos out of redshirt. If Minnesota finds themselves once again without McKee that could mean an easy six points for the Hawkeyes.

This week could also be the notable return of All-American Austin DeSanto, who had to medically forfeit out of his match against Penn State almost two weeks ago. In his stead, we’ve seen senior Paul Glynn go 1-1, with a win over Michigan State. Last week the University didn’t even list DeSanto on their probable sheet for the team’s trip to Michigan, but he was included on this week’s list. Should the junior return to the lineup he could face 2019 NJCAA champion Boo Dryden, who is a recent addition to the Gopher squad.

After that the dual could have back-to-back top ten matchups at 141 and 149 pounds. Max Murin has been absent from Iowa’s lineup for three weeks due to an undisclosed injury, but like DeSanto he was once against listed in the probable lineup by the University for this weekend’s matchup. Should he return he will return to face Mitch McKee. The Gopher wrestler is 2-0 against Murin, with a 5-3 victory in last year’s dual and a 2-1 win at last year’s Big Ten tournament.

The other big match at 149 would pit #2 Pat Lugo against #7 Brayton Lee at 149 pounds. At this point there is no questioning’s Lugo’s strength of schedule as Lee will be the fifth top ten opponents Lugo has faced this season and his 10th ranked opponent according to InterMat’s rankings. Lugo is currently 8-1 against the top 20, with his lone loss coming to #1 Sammy Sasso of Ohio State. Lugo is also scheduled to close the regular season out against #6 Boo Lewallen of Oklahoma State next weekend.

The 174-pound bout will also feature a top ten meeting between #1 Michael Kemerer and #8 Devin Skatzka. The two-time All-American has been flawless in making his transition to 174 pounds including posting a win over three-time NCAA finalist Mark Hall of Penn State two weekends ago. This will be Kemerer’s fifth top ten opponent he’s faced since the calendar flipped.

To this point we’ve been holding out on the biggest matchup of the dual on paper. This weekend we could see a class of top three wrestlers at heavyweight if Gable Steveson takes the mat against #3 ranked Tony Cassioppi. Coming into this match the Hawkeye freshman is coming off a loss by fall to Michigan’s Mason Parris, but aside from that match Cassioppi has looked every bit the part of an All-American contender including several wins over 2019 All-Americans Matt Stencel (Central Michigan) and Trent Hillger (Wisconsin).

After missing the last three weeks, Max Murin is back in Iowa’s probable lineup – Nic Ryder Photo

Dual Preview
#1 Iowa vs #18 Minnesota   
125 #1 Spencer Lee (Iowa) vs #13 Pat McKee (Minnesota)
133 #3 Austin DeSanto or Paul Glynn (Iowa) vs Boo Dryden (Minnesota)
141 #9 Max Murin or Carter Happel (Iowa) vs #4 Mitch McKee (Minnesota)
149 #2 Pat Lugo (Iowa) vs #7 Brayton Lee (Minnesota)
157 #5 Kaleb Young (Iowa) vs Ryan Thomas (Minnesota)
165 #2 Alex Marinelli (Iowa) vs Bailee O’Reielly (Minnesota)
174 #1 Michael Kemerer (Iowa) vs #8 Devin Skatzka (Minnesota)
184 #9 Abe Assad or Cash Wilcke (Iowa)  vs Owen Webster (Minnesota)
197 #6 Jacob Warner (Iowa) vs Hunter Ritter (Minnesota)
285 #3 Tony Cassioppi (Iowa) vs #1 Gable Steveson (Minnesota)

By Ross Bartachek (@rossbchek)

Lead Editor of IA Wrestle