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Preview: The ILLINI versus the Natural Corn Killers

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  • Preview: The ILLINI versus the Natural Corn Killers

    .
    INTRODUCTION

    This preview is my Tale of Two Cities, my Old Man and the Sea; this preview of the ILLINI wrestling team versus the grappling Nebraska Cornhuskers is my Brothers Karamazov. Will wrestling ever again witness prose reach such heights? You have chanced upon a wrestling preview writer at the peak of form, during his moonwalk, as he steps to the top of the Olympic podium; you are witnessing that final tug of the perfect wedgie in the corner of a grade school playground.

    WHAT: Dual with Nebraska
    WHEN: Sunday, February 21
    WHERE: Assembly Hall, Champaign-Urbana, ILLINOIS
    TV/STREAMING: ESPNU


    LAST TIME OUT

    The ILLINI are 5-2 after butchering Northwestern in Evanston by the score of 31-6. Before that, the Orange and Blue crushed the faded hopes and dreams of Indiana (39-3), Wisconsin (21-9), Ohio State (18-15) and Purdue (19-17). Alas! Losses were to Iowa (6-36) and Minnesota (13-25).

    Nebraska is 6-1 and coming off a win over Michigan State (27-10). Prior to that, they’ve beaten Indiana (47-0), Wisconsin (21-15), Maryland (36-0) and Northwestern (26-10), while starting off the season with a 22-14 win over Minnesota. The Huskers’ lone loss was to Iowa (6-31). Wisconsin is a common opponent, so let’s look at the box score for that match:

    Nebraska 21, Wisconsin 15

    125: #11 Liam Cronin (NEB) dec. Ethan Rotondo (WIS) 7-6 (NEB *, WIS 0)
    133: Kyle Burwick (WIS) dec. Tucker Sjomeling (NEB) 3-2 (WIS 3, NEB 2)
    141: #9 Chad Red Jr. (NEB) dec. Dominic Dentino (WIS) 8-3 (NEB 5, WIS 3)
    149: Drew Scharenbrock (WIS) dec. Brock Hardy (NEB) 7-6 (WIS 6, NEB 5)
    157: Garrett Model (WIS) pinned Caleb Licking (NEB) (4:26) (WIS 12, NEB 5)
    165: # 19 Peyton Robb (NEB) pinned Joshua Otto (WIS) (1:32) (WIS 12, NEB 10**)
    174: #4 Mikey Labriola (NEB) dec. Jared Krattiger (WIS) 10-4 (NEB 13, WIS 12)
    184: #11 Christopher Weiler (WIS) dec. #7 Taylor Venz (NEB) 11-10 (WIS 15, NEB 13)
    197: #2 Eric Schultz (NEB) tech. fall Andrew Salemme (WIS) 30-13 (NEB 18, WIS 15)
    HWT: #17 Christian Lance (NEB) dec. #7 Trent Hillger (WIS) 4-2 SV-1 (NEB 21, WIS 15)

    *Nebraska lost a point due to a wrestling throwing their headgear
    **Nebraska lost a point due to violation of mat area


    FROM THE VAULT

    Return with me to January 5, 2018, a day of sadness and joy. John Young, the ninth American to walk on the moon, passes away a hero. Forty-six years earlier, he commands the Apollo 16 mission. During that same diurnal arc, as we bid adieu to one hero, two more emerge. The ILLINI wrestling team meet the wicked Nebraska Cornhuskers at Huff Hall. Redshirt freshmen Dylan Duncan and Mikey Carr carry the standard for the ILLINI, winning crucial matches. But the teams finish with five wins apiece. It is IMAR’s 18-2 technical fall victory that assure the home team the most-points-scored criteria win. Here is that box score:

    #12 ILLINOIS 18, #20 NEBRASKA 17


    133: #20 Dylan Duncan (ILL) dec. Brian Peska (NEB), 6-1 ILL 3, NEB 0
    141 Mike Carr (ILL) dec. #8 Chad Red Jr. (NEB), 6-3 ILL 6, NEB 0
    149: #8 Colton McCrystal (NEB) major dec.Eric Barone (ILL), 8-0 ILL 6, NEB 4
    157: #9 Tyler Berger (NEB) major dec. #13 Kyle Langenderfer (ILL), 11-2 ILL 6, NEB 8
    165: #2 Isaiah Martinez (ILL) tech fall Johnny Blankenship (NEB) , 18-2 ILL 11, NEB 8
    174: Beau Breske (NEB) dec. David Riojas (ILL), 4-2 ILL 11, NEB 11
    184: #12 Emery Parker (ILL) dec. #6 Taylor Venz, 9-7 ILL 14, NEB 11
    197: Eric Schultz (NEB) dec. Andre Lee (ILL), 3-1 (SV-2) ILL 14, NEB 14
    HWT: David Jensen (NEB) dec. Deuce Rachal (ILL), 7-2 ILL 14, NEB 17
    125: #15 Travis Piotrowski (ILL) dec. Mitchell Maginnis (NEB), 4-2 ILL 17, NEB 17
    Third Criteria – Total Points: Illinois 51, Nebraska 49 ILL 18, NEB 17



    OUT OF BOUNDSTM
    .

    .
    PREVIEW

    Wrestlestat.com, never a friend to the mighty ILLINI, are not sanguine about the Orange and Blue’s chances in this dual. They foresee a 23-9 final score, favoring hated Nebraska, with wins from only Justin Cardani, Lucas Byrd and Mike Carr. I am sanguiner.

    The ILLINI match up well with the scurrilous Cornhuskers.

    I believe that both teams have two prohibitive favorites—the ILLINI at 133 and 149—while Nebraska will have strong favorites at 174 and 197. The opportunities for bonus points are about the same. This dual could come down to the heavyweights. So, let’s look at the individual matchups.

    125. JUSTIN CARDANI versus Liam Cronin. This is a big match for Cardani. Currently, he has a 2-5 record, while Cronin is at 6-1. The ILLINI needs a win for seeding in the future, and he needs to stop a streak of bad luck. He has had two matches against highly-ranked wrestlers (Heinselman and McKee) decided against him because of a single instance of freak flopping around, while a third match was awarded to WIN’s #3 wrestler (DeAugustino) who never took a shot and rode parallel with both legs.

    He was the better, more aggressive wrestler in each of those three losses.

    It is time for the superior wrestler to win the match. Wrestlestat.com is predicting a 6-5 win for the ILLINI warrior. That projected result is not based on their rankings, as Cardani is at a monumentally under-valued #42, while Cronin sits at #16. So, why does the service predict the #42 wrestler to beat the #16 fellow? Because Cardani whupped Cronin three times last year by the scores of 6-2, 6-4 and 9-5. Additionally, the kid from Champaign Centennial is 16-12 versus common opponents, while Little Red is at 12-19 against the same guys.

    Being 3-0 against an opponent, I would think, would provide a mental edge for Cardani. He has faced twenty-one minutes of the best Cronin has to offer and outscored him 21-11. Adding to the mental edge is the fact that the ILLINI beat the guy at Indiana (Brock Hudkins) who was likely the impetus for Cronin to transfer to Nebraska. This is Cardanalorian time!

    133. LUCAS BYRD versus Alex Thomsen. This could be bonus time for the ILLINI. Byrd has been the word to the tune of a 6-1 Big Ten record. His opponent sports a 2-3 ledger. Wrestlestat.com predicts the #28 ILLINI to win a 10-4 over the #49 Thomsen. I think it could be worse for Nebraska than that. To start off, Lucas Byrd is criminally under-valued at #28. He’s at #14 with a bullet in the WIN Magazine rankings, and he was just added to Flo’s.

    The Cornhusker stumbled into qualifying for NCAAs last year at 125 despite an 11-15 record against Division One wrestlers. There are hardly any common opponents, but Byrd recently majored Minnesota’s Boo Dryden, while that same Gopher wrestler almost majored Thomsen (2-9). Moreover, Northwestern’s Chris Cannon majored him this year, and that tells me that Byrd can do the same. Or better.

    Thomsen is a short offense, duck and single wrestler, who’ll hook a leg while riding and look for the cross-wrist tilt. I see that working on wrestlers who aren’t as good as Lucas Byrd.

    141. DYLAN DUNCAN versus Chad Red. We are nearing the end of the season already, and that has historically been Chad Red time. He’s a two-time AA, and he qualified for Nationals last year. Thing is, he always has some bumps along the way. In his redshirt freshman year, he had eleven bumps. The next year he had 14, going 16-14 against D1 wrestlers.

    In a dual, I don’t think you bet any spreads involving Chad Red. For example, Dylan Duncan majored Northwestern’s Colin Valdiviez, but Red won 6-4. As another example, the Cornhusker beat Northwestern’s Frankie Tal-Shar in an extra match by a 3-2 score. Danny Pucino beat the same guy 6-2.

    Red has learned the Burroughs double, keeping his knees moving when his opponent is off balance and backing up. He’s also very quick with the single to his opponent’s right leg. I’ve been frustrated with the Nebraska kid wrestling on his knees against great ILLINI grapplers, much the same as I was frustrated with Jordan Burroughs. A way to put the burden on Red is to reach over and put your hands on the top of his shoulders, then work into a front headlock. The advantage swings to his foe. That’s what Jaydin Eierman did in this match:



    Duncan and Red have pretty similar records against common opponents, with Dylan at 17-13, while Red’s at 15-9. They haven’t wrestled each other. Red will be favored here, but this will be a match for the upper crust wrestling connoisseur who enjoys great technique. The wrestlestat.com forecast is for a Nebraska victory by the score of 10-3. I think this is a much closer match than that, as Duncan has really improved this year. They both have only one loss (Eierman) on the year.

    149. MICHAEL CARR versus Brock Hardy. This young fellow from Nebraska won four state championships in Utah and was touted as a top recruit before embarking on a two-year Mormon mission. He already has a Cael Sanderson haircut, and, no doubt, a dozen short-sleeve dress shirts, a wife at home, 2.5 kids and a cat named Sir Fluffy Shortcake.

    So, he’s not really a “true” freshman, but this is his first year in college, and he’s off to a 4-3 start. His losses are to Iowa’s Max Murin (2-6), Northwestern’s Yahya Thomas (1-4) and to Wisconsin’s #62 Drew Scharenbrock (6-7). His best win, by far, is over #34 Michael Blockhus of Minnesota. Wrestlestat.com is predicting a 6-4 win for Mikey Carr.

    As a freshman, Brock Hardy, who has the least Mormon name I can imagine and one of the best WWE names, is a lunchpail, strong, forehead-grinding, tie-em-up type, who seems to be cutting some weight. He favors the collar ties, snap-downs and throw-bys. It will be interesting to see what he does with Mikey Carr’s movement and stalking style.

    With Hardy cutting weight, and Carr always in great shape, I look for the ILLINI to wear him down by the third period and do what he needs to do to win.

    157. JOHNNY MOLOGOUSIS versus Caleb Licking. In the video that I saw of Licking, he favored the claw ride and would throw in both legs. Even his claw ride features one boot in. In neutral, the Husker will look for the single on his opponent’s left leg.

    Licking and Mongo have traveled the same route to get where they are. Both are fifth-year seniors facing really tough conference wrestlers at this weight. Both had spot starts in duals earlier in their college careers, and both have wins against Indiana, while the fellow from Nebraska has added a win against Maryland. His record is at 2-4, while Mologousis wants to improve on his 1-6 score sheet.

    He can do that if he wrestles like he did against Indiana or against Ohio State’s Elijah Cleary. This is his chance to jump a seed or two for the conference tournament. Wrestlestat.com disagrees, as that algorithm has Licking the winner by a 6-5 score. This is Mologousis’ opportunity to be the hero, and so he’s my upset special.

    TO BE CONTINUED …


  • #2
    Wow I think you actually undersold it in the intro there. Brock Hardy speculation my favorite part, that name is classic. I cant think of another name off the top of my head where you can drop the first and last letter of the name and get a funny phrase in context.

    Comment


    • #3
      JAY31: "I cant think of another name off the top of my head where you can drop the first and last letter of the name and get a funny phrase in context."
      I love games with names. We should all have numbers. Or signs. Names are just too funny. Prince had it right. C3PO as well. By the way, your name game level is expert. Cheers!

      Comment


      • #4
        INTERMISSION
        .

        .

        WHY WE WRESTLE

        We wrestle our Demons. We wrestle our Angels. We wrestle to become champions like the heroes and Gods of Greece. We know that there may be a man who might defeat us, so we prepare ourselves to battle that man while defeating those who stand between us.

        PREVIEW

        165. DANNY BRAUNAGEL versus Peyton Robb. This will be one of the marquee matchups at the dual. Robb made his bones last year, as a redshirt freshman, placing third at the Big Ten championships at 157. He had a scintillating one-point win over Eric Barone in that third-place match. The Husker is 6-2 on the year, having lost to Iowa’s Marinelli and Minnesota’s Sparks.

        The Brawlnagel is unbeaten and untied this season. He made a crazy comeback from injury at the Northwestern dual, handing David Ferrante a 24-11 loss. Peyton Robb beat the Wildcat wrestler as well, but only by an 8-5 margin. The Nebraska kid also majored Nick South of Indiana, but Brawny teched him.

        This match has huge seeding implications for conference, and, of course, wrestlestat.com (wrongly) predicts a 9-5 win for the Cornhusker. If little Brawny had looked less than scintillating against Northwestern, then I might favor the Nebraska wrestler. But he didn’t, and I don’t.

        .

        .
        174. D.J. SHANNON OR TREY SIZEMORE versus Michael Labriola. We don’t know the status of D.J. Shannon at this time. Did he get injured against Minnesota? It looked like he did, but he continued to wrestle, and he wrestled well. Though, come to think of it, he wrestled better before the possible injury. It was Sizemore who handled ILLINI business at the Northwestern dual.

        Wrestlestat.com is forecasting a major decision for Labriola against both Shannon and Sizemore. Shannon barely gave up a major to Kemerer, so he could keep it to a decision here. That is especially true if he is as aggressive and active as he was in the Minnesota dual.

        This is Labriola’s third year starting for Nebraska, was a national qualifier both of the preceding years, and won a 6th place medal as a redshirt freshman. The ILLINI want to limit the damage here.

        184. ZAC BRAUNAGEL versus Taylor Venz or Nathan Haas. There are ten Big Ten wrestlers in the WIN Top Twenty for this weight. That is unconscionable. That is also why there are “upsets” every week at this weight in this conference. The low man on the totem pole is Rocky Jordan at #20 in the rankings, and he’s NOT a tremendous slouch. Taylor Venz is a wrestler who epitomizes this strange phenomenon in the Big Ten. If you did a Venz Diagram of the Nebraska kid’s college wrestling career, it might look like this:

        x x
        _____________________
        l xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx l
        _____________________
        x x x x x

        The small x’s at the top represent outlier great performances, the mass of x’s in the middle equal the usual good performances, and the x’s at the bottom represent dog performances. The kid is a bit unpredictable.

        There is likely an injury involved as well. Nathan Haas wrestled at this weight for Nebraska in the first and the last two duals. He has a decent ranking from wrestlestat.com at #38. The site predicts a win for Taylor Venz, or, if Nathan Haas wrestles, a win for Brawlnagel. Unless the Cornhusker has a way to regenerate himself and heal like Danny Braunagel or Wolverine, then I could see Nebraska favored if Venz gets the start. Well, at least on paper, but you can never tell with this fellow.

        197. MATT WROBLEWSKI versus Eric Schultz. I think there’s always been some professional courtesy at this weight when it comes to former IHSA wrestlers. Or maybe it’s just respect, or it could be the knowledge that a former Team ILLINOIS kid could whip out some Greco and funk you up? I don’t know, but Christian Brunner never got the memo. Warner, Schultz and Wrobocop, however, usually appear to be on the same page. Schultz is now the #1 kid in the land, and he almost always wrestles a controlled match.

        When you give up a takedown to him, that will often be your losing margin.


        Wrestlestat.com is calling for a major here. In the past, Schultz has wrestled conservatively, but he’s opened up somewhat lately. It will be interesting to see how the new #1 ranking affects him on the mat. Does he want to risk a Greco toss or an inside trip? Does he want to prove he deserves the new ranking? He has been a National Qualifier for three years and a Round of 16 twice, so there may still be some questions in his mind. I think that Wrobocop has the lungs and skill to keep this to a decision.

        285. LUUUUKE LUFFMAN versus Christian Lance. You lose to the #1 and #3 wrestlers in the country, and WIN Magazine drops you in the rankings! Not fair! Unionize for better ranking conditions! Luffman is at #11 right behind the guy he beat from Wisconsin and three places behind the guy he beat from Ohio State. Now, he faces another ranked grappler.

        This is our Thor versus Fenrir match.

        Christian Lance is ranked #16 in the same WIN Magazine poll. I believe that wrestlestat.com got this match wrong. Although that site has Luffman ranked higher than Lance (15 vs. 16), and although Luffman has done better against the same guys (7-7 vs. 6-10), they have the Husker winning a one-point match.

        Both of the big guys have extra time wins over Wisconsin’s Trent Hilger this year, as well as losses to Steveson and Cassioppi. Lance is in his sixth year in college. He was at Fort Hays State for three years, starting for them one year, injured another, then he backed up David Jensen at NU for two years. He did get a number of dual starts last year.


        CONCLUSION

        If Danny Braunagel can beat Peyton Robb, which I expect, and Luuuuke Luffman beats Christian Lance, which he should be favored to do, then this is a very competitive match that comes down to the wire. That would blow the wrestlestat.com prediction out of the water, as they show Little Brawny and Luffman losing. If Zac Braunagel can beat the fickle (or injured) Venz or his capable replacement, then you have an ILLINI win.

        The ILLINI lightweights will be carrying a lot of the burden here, but with Danny Braunagel back, and showing an amazing gas tank after being out, the upper weights can pull some of the freight. As noted earlier, I have Nebraska with two strong favorites: 174 and 197. Other favorites for the Cornhuskers are 141, and at least arguably, 157 and 184.

        The ILLINI have strong favorites at 133 and 149. They are favorites on paper at 285, 125 and 165. The best opportunities for bonus are at 133 for ILLINOIS and 174 for Nebraska, and perhaps 197 for the Huskers as well. The good guys will not have the fans on top of the mat because this dual will be at the Assembly Hall. But there is always an advantage to sleeping in your own bed.

        I like the idea of this match coming down to the heavyweights, and Luuuuke Luffman winning another dual for the ILLINI.

        FIN.

        Comment


        • #5
          NEBRASKA'S 149 PROBLEM

          The Cornhuskers have a problem at 149. They have a young fellow who is bursting out of his skin to make that weight in Brock Hardy. His wrestling has likely suffered, as he sports a 4-3 record, although he was a top-rated recruit and had his two-year Mormon mission. He looks like a 157-pounder, which brings up another Nebraska issue at that weight. Caleb Licking is at 2-4 there for the Huskers.

          In their last triangular, Brock Hardy got the start at 149 against the first team they faced, then Manning brought in Ridge Lovett to wrestle the next match. Manning also had Lovett wrestle an extra match at 149 that day. As you recall, Lovett wrestled at 133 last season, but he cannot make that weight any longer, so he's been stuck behind Chad Red.

          The logical experiment would be for Nebraska to try Lovett at 149 and Hardy at 157.

          Wrestlestat.com is all for the experiment, as it it (ignorantly) predicts a Mikey Carr loss to Ridge Lovett. It forecasts a Carr win over Brock Hardy. Lovett is great on top, but this would be going up two weights in a year, which is possible if you are Steven Rodrigues or Ant-Man. Lovett was a four-time state champ in Idaho and was the #19 overall recruit according to Flo. He finished 7th at the conference tournament last year, but 133 was pretty stacked. As a true freshman, he finished up with a 16-8 record against D1 opponents.


          NEBRASKA'S OTHER PROBLEM

          The experiment mentioned above is all well and good, but it doesn't answer Nebraska's other problem at 133. Manning experimented in the last dual with Tucker Sjomeling at this weight. The Cornhusker is in his fourth year in the lineup with a 25-14 (13-9 against D1) record. He's wrestled in about seven duals over the last two years, but in that last dual he beat a very game Jordan Hamdan from Michigan State. I wouldn't be surprised to see him in the lineup against the ILLINI.

          OUT OF BOUNDSTM
          .
          .

          Comment


          • #6
            PROBABLE STARTERS
            Wrestler Record Weight Class Wrestler Record
            Justin Cardani 2-5 125 lbs. Liam Cronin -OR- Jeremiah Reno 6-1; 0-2
            Lucas Byrd 6-1 133 lbs. Alex Thomsen -OR- Tucker Sjomeling 2-3; 3-2
            Dylan Duncan 4-1 141 lbs. Chad Red Jr. 7-1
            Mike Carr 5-2 149 lbs. Brock Hardy -OR- Ridge Lovett 4-3; 4-0
            Johnny Mologousis 1-6 157 lbs. Caleb Licking 2-4
            Danny Braunagel 5-0 165 lbs. Peyton Robb 6-2
            DJ Shannon or Trey Sizemore 2-4; 2-2 174 lbs. Mikey Labriola 7-0
            Zac Braunagel 4-3 184 lbs. Taylor Venz -OR- Nathan Haas 3-2; 2-2
            Matt Wroblewski 5-2 197 lbs. Brandon Van Tassell 2-2
            Luke Luffman 5-2 HWT Christian Lance 4-2
            Will there be a duck? Liam Cronin is 6-1 on the year but he's 0-3 against Justin Cardani. We've already talked (next comment above) about Ridge Lovett and Tucker Sjomeling. I don't think they are ducks--just Manning trying to figure out his best lineup.

            That can't be too good for Thomsen and Hardy's confidence, though, especially with tough ILLINI matches coming up.

            I don't know anything about Brandon Van Tassell at 197 except that he is a vampire killer--the "Van" in his name establishes that--and a Nebraska wrestler.

            According to wrestlestat.com, our vampire slayer is a 184-pounder, who is 2-2 on the year, having beaten two 184-pounders ranked in the 200s, while losing to two guys at that weight ranked in the 80s and 100s. Hope Eric Schultz is okay.


            TIME/STREAMING

            The match is scheduled for 1pm (Central). It will be on ESPNU, and if you don't have cable like me, it is on the ESPN ap's streaming schedule.

            GO ILLINI!!!

            Comment


            • #7


              I've put this graphic at the top of the thread as a public service announcement. There is one dual in the next couple of days that stands out as interesting, and that is ILLINOIS and Nebraska.

              Sunday, February 21:

              Northwestern at Minnesota, 1:00 PM (12:00 PM)
              Nebraska at Illinois, 2:00 PM (1:00 PM) ESPNU (or Streaming on your ESPN ap)
              Oklahoma at Oklahoma State, 6:00 PM (5:00 PM)

              Monday, February 22:

              Maryland at Penn State, 6:00 PM
              Indiana at Purdue, 8:00 PM


              GO ILLINI!!!

              Comment


              • #8
                Danny Brawlnagel will enter the Big Ten Tournament undefeated with some very nice wins. Spectacular season so far. I think we can lay to rest any worries about the hand injury and any possible resulting effects on his gas tank.

                Lucas Byrd leading the team with seven wins. He is gonna be a tough out in the post season. Seems like the kind of wrestler coaches dream about.

                I hope Mike Carr is okay. Kudos to Danny Pucino wrestling up, surrendering his unblemished record for the ILLINI. We're gonna love this kid.

                Dylan Duncan can taste AA status he's so close.


                Luke Luffman solidifies his #4 seed in the BTT. He'll probably move into the top five of the National rankings.

                The Cardanalorian with another shoulda, coulda match. Two mental lapses cost him a win. He let Cronin in on his legs with seconds to go in the period. Then, he had a second or two to lock up the riding time point and didn't drop to Cronin's leg. He had a stall warning to give, and he can stalemate that position in his sleep against the Cornhusker. If he makes only one of those two mental errors, he either wins or gets to SV. That must be frustrating.

                I found out that ESPNU requires a cable subscription login on the ESPN ap. I did get a free preview, which was just long enough to watch the match at 125. They need to get somebody at ILLINOIS to provide timely updates on the match results on Twitter.


                GO ILLINI!!!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Ref must have either been stoned or stupid. Could have also been paid off by someone before the duel.. lol

                  How do you warn someone for stalling, while taking a shot, and waive the two off like there’s potentially dangerous? Shook my head on that.. and then turned it off at 133, that was also not 2..

                  U of I should have some placers at conference, but no real potential Champs..

                  Big Tens in Pennsylvania, Go cats lol

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    The entire match is posted on youtube for those who want to see it again.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I've gone back and watched it, and saw some pretty fantastic matches. One point here or there, along with Mikey Carr in the lineup, and the ILLINI win or tie. The ILLINI lost two one-point matches (more on that later), but they won an SV2 bout. My key takeaways:

                      Little Brawny had the best takedown of the season. Peyton Robb was going for the front headlock, and you could almost hear the Brawlnagel go, "Whoop, whoop, whoop, whoop. Nyuck, nyuck, nyuck," as he hit that super-sweet duck. The announcers were so excited that they were talking over themselves and each other. I was excited as well. It was poetry. On top of being beautiful to watch, it seemed like the ILLINI used his opponent to set himself up. As if he said, you can have a front headlock earlier in the match, but if you try it again, the trap will be sprung. If that's true, that's next level wrestling.

                      Anybody who may have had lingering doubts about Luuuke Luffman had to finally come around to the fact that he's **** good. The rankers saw this based on his elevated ranking, but he consolidated that with the win over a top tier Christian Lance. Any thought that the Orange Hulk just had a lucky day against OSU and the Wisconsin Viking were dispatched. When he moves in for the kill, it is all business, like a pro hitman. Respect that man's hard work!

                      And he might not be the most improved wrestler on the team.

                      I was genuinely shocked at how good Matt Wroblewski looked against #1 Eric Schultz. I know that Schultz has had a history of wrestling controlled matches in the past, but he was going for it here, as evidenced by the numerous (and precarious) Greco ties. Wrobocop may be the most improved wrestler in the room. Maybe it's Luffman? They both have improved so much it is fun to watch and hard to tell. Last year, I thought Matt looked like he didn't have full control over his long legs and arms. He tended to gas more. He's in full control now, and he has made himself dangerous. (Schultz might be the wrestler with the best chance to beat Amine, as he stays in good, low position, to ward off those low-single Amine attacks, and he can Greco with anybody.).

                      In the end, my judgment is that Luffman has improved more. Wrobocop still can add a few pounds. What a fantastic problem to try to figure out! Crap! I just thought about Lucas Byrd. I'm going to have to rethink all of this.

                      Dylan Duncan got hosed. I can see where the ref might think that Duncan had lost control for that last split second on those back points, but Red was still underneath, and his hips were controlled by Duncan's body with the back of a Nebraska singlet to the mat. That was two points nearfall. Was the ref going to give Red one point for escape during the second swipe for the back points? Of course not. Duncan was in control. Additionally, to pile stupid on stupid, Duncan's riding time point was erased. A traveshamockery.

                      But Dylan Duncan is right there. He'll get a rematch at the BTT. Maybe in the medal rounds at the NCAA tournament as well.

                      I'm going to invite Danny Pucino to perform at my wedding. Dude is 7 minutes of entertainment! I'll pay whatever.

                      I'd seen the Cardani/Cronin match before and commented on it, and I don't think I gave the Cardanalorian enough credit for finishing that first takedown. Get your mind right for the second and third periods, and a medal can be yours, young man.


                      GO ILLINI!!!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        A couple more things: The announcer noted that Mikey Carr was not in the lineup because of a minor injury, and that he'd be back for the conference tournament. Very good news. I'm pretty sure that that was Tim Johnson, a reliable source, and the way he said it sounded like the information was coming directly from one of the ILLINI coaches. In other words, his statement was definitive.

                        Also, per that duck by Little Brawny, it reminded me of what his coaches were looking for from him, which was that final move that tears the heart out of a good wrestler. The Brawlnagel can wear a man out, and then hit perfect technique in the third. That's not just a skill, that's heart as well.

                        Finally, I didn't include Dylan Duncan in the calculation about who has improved the most from last season. He certainly has improved, no doubt, but he was always slick. Only injuries and the pull could keep him down, even if he's too heroic to admit that. Cheers!


                        GO ILLINI!!!

                        Comment

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