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A preview of this weekend's key late-season college dual meets



With the college wrestling season winding down, teams are now in their final dual meet home stretch. These important individual and team matchups are vital for the upcoming conference meets. This weekend will be another exciting weekend for college wrestling with many top dual meets that will already add to the intrigue of this season. On Friday evening, the upstart Ohio State Buckeyes take their No. 8 team ranking to Carver Hawkeye Arena to tangle with the fourth-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes. Also that evening, No. 5 Iowa State travels to battle its conference rival, No. 9 Nebraska. On Sunday, the Bedlam series returns to Gallagher-Iba arena as the No. 6 ranked Oklhoma Sooners visit the No. 2 ranked Cowboys of Oklahoma State for their bi-annual in state showdown. Also on Sunday, the top-ranked Minnesota Gophers renew their heated rivalry with No. 4 Iowa. The other top match on Sunday will feature Ohio State again, as they visit Champaign, Ill to finish their tough road trip with the No. 7 ranked Illini . Here's a look at the matchups: Friday Ohio State (#8) vs. Iowa (#4) This is an important dual for both teams, as it could set the tone for good or bad things to come in the upcoming post season. Ohio State is back in the saddle again after some down years, led by a youthful but talented squad. They will have to keep the bonus points to a minimum, as the bottom of Iowa's line up which is loaded with five ranked wrestlers. If the Buckeyes can do this, and score well where they are strong from 165 through Hwt., then they are right where they want to be. Key matches for the Buckeyes will be at 197 pounds and heavweight, where they are capable of scoring big bonus points if not two fall's. The Hawkeyes will need to set the tempo early as the Buckeyes will certainly be feeding off of a strong performance posted against Michigan recently. Iowa State (#5) vs. Nebraska (#9) Every Big 12 match has major implications in the national rankings, both for teams and individuals. This bout will help determine key seedings for the conference championships. Iowa State's lineup is loaded with stars, including two-time NCAA champion Cael Sanderson at 184 pounds. Nebraska has a returning NCAA champion of its own, Brad Vering at 197 pounds. If the Cornhuskers, under new head coach Mark Manning, can upset the Cyclones on its home mats, it will be a big boost for the Nebraska program. Vering's match against longtime rival Zach Thompson could be important in the final outcome. Sunday Oklahoma (#6) vs. Oklahoma State (#2) This is the second installation of this year's Bedlam series which always produces plenty to talk about in college wrestling circles. OSU won the first meeting of the year on Dec. 10th in Norman, 22-13. The Cowboys bring a powerful lineup into this dual with all 10 wrestlers ranked, including seven in the top 10. Coach John Smith has made a few changes in their lineup since the last meeting. Charles Walker has moved up a weight class to 141 pounds and Johnny Thompson is the man at 133. Ty Wilcox , who is out for the remainder of the season at 165, has been replaced by true freshman Chris Pendleton. This dual meet could paint a totally different picture than the previous one as the lineups for both teams have changed considerably. Minnesota (#1) vs. Iowa (#4) College wrestling fans all love HEATED rivals, and this one is exactly that. The top-ranked Golden Gophers, currently on a 12-meet winning streak and the No. 4 ranked Iowa Hawkeyes will look to close out their dual meet season with a bang. Iowa holds a 53-19-1 advantage over Minnesota in a series dating back to 1926. In their last meeting, Minnesota defeated Iowa 20-17 in the semifinals of the National Duals in January. Minnesota has seen a boost to its lineup, with the addition of Olympic bronze medalist Garrett Lowney at heavyweight. If Minnesota can keep it close and win two of five weights at the bottom, they will be in the drivers seat, with the distinct possibility of bonus points for the Gophers at a number of their upper weights. Illinois (#7) vs. Ohio State (#8) Ohio State ends their tough three-match road trip with their third top 10-ranked team in seven days. How the Buckeyes perform against Illinois will largely determine how they come out against Iowa. Illinois is a very deep team led by senior Adam Tirapelle at 149 pounds. This dual appears very evenly matched, with a slight edge going to the more experienced Illini. However, Ohio State has made a believer out of many critics, and should be favored in 4 of 10 weight clasess. This match could even be considered a toss up, and could come down to upsets and bonus points.
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