InterMat Wrestling – ACC Friday Preview (2/18/22)

(photo courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com)

This is a great weekend to have your eyes on the ACC. We start the weekend with three duals on Friday night that will feature some in-state rivalries and some fire matchups. I’m going to change up the preview a bit this week and focus on a couple matches from each dual that I think will A. be great matches and B. have a major impact on the dual. To cap off this final weekend of regular-season action, we get a top-10 battle in Raleigh between the Wolfpack and the Hokies–I’ll have a full breakdown of that dual out this weekend.

#23 Pittsburgh at Duke

The Panthers make the trek to North Carolina for the second time this month, this time to face the Blue Devils. Unfortunately, the strength of each of these teams doesn’t match up well, so we won’t have any ranked versus ranked matches, but there will still be a couple good ones to keep your eyes on. The first match I’m watching is at 149. Mancini has been real scrappy each time he’s gotten the start for the Panthers and gave #3 Tariq Wilson a battle last week. Finesilver is looking to finish his run through a loaded weight class on a high note. A win in this match could be big for where he falls in the bracket at the ACC championship. I’m also pretty excited to watch the heavyweights get after it. Both of these guys have shown the ability to let it fly this season, so I’m hoping the final match ends that way. 285 is one of the weaker weights in the ACC, so there will be a battle in Charlottesville to steal an NCAA slot. This match could determine who is on the same side as Nathan Traxler, who has run through the weight class.

125: #30 Gage Curry vs. Ty Naquin/Logan Agin
133: #10 Micky Phillippi vs. Drake Doolittle
141: #6 Cole Matthews vs. Patrick Rowland
149: Dan Mancini vs. #14 Josh Finesilver
157: #19 Elijah Cleary vs. Wade Unger
165: #16 Jake Wentzel vs. Jake Wentzel Gabe Dinette
174: Hunter Kernan vs. #16 Matt Finesilver
184: Greg Harvey vs. Vince Baker
197: #8 Nino Bonaccorsi vs. Kaden Russell
285: Jake Slinger vs. Jonah Niesenbaum

#8 Virginia Tech at Virginia

The Commonwealth Clash is always a big deal, regardless of the sport. I’m expecting a raucous crowd on Friday at Mem Gym; the Hoos have done a great job marketing this dual and the Hokies travel very well. This will be the first of two duals this weekend for the Hokies, but I don’t see that impacting them in any way here. There are a few matches in this dual to pay extra attention to–starting early at 133. Courtney has had a great season so far at 11-3 and has seemed to be building momentum. He has an uncanny ability to find his way through scrambles to get points, but in this match, he will have to create the scrambles as Myers is one of the cleanest shot finishers in the conference. I encourage you to watch Corbin’s matches this year and focus on how well he is able to float and control his hips both on takedowns and on top; it’s a thing of beauty. The second focus match is at 157 with Connor Brady and Jake Keating. Keating comes in at 11-4 and has looked great in-conference. He has a big win over Ed Scott and wrestled very well in his loss to Austin O’Connor. Keating is coming in with momentum, while Brady is looking to get out of the biggest slump of his season. Brady lost his first two ACC matches in close bots–a sudden victory loss to Elijah Cleary and a last-second takedown loss to Wade Unger, but last week was blown out 25-10 by O’Connor. The Hokies will need him at his best this weekend, and that will start with the Keating match. The final focus match is at 184 with Battista and Bolen. Battista enters at 14-3 with all three losses to wrestlers in the top-10; two of those were major decision losses to Gavin Kane and Trent Hidlay in the ACC. After those two losses, Battista seemed to be back to the form he was successful with early in the season, putting up 34 points in two matches against Duke last week. Bolen comes in at 18-3 with his losses to #9 Kane, #10 Kyle Cochran and #13 Jonathon Loew. He dropped a sudden victory match to Kane last week 3-1 in a great battle between the two. I expect both guys to bring their A-game to this dual and put on an entertaining match.

125: #20 Patrick McCormick
133: #5 Korbin Myers vs. #20 Brian Courtney
141: #22 Collin Gerardi vs. Dylan Cedeno
149: #5 Bryce Andonian vs. #32 Jarod Verkleeren
157: #28 Connor Brady vs. #26 Jake Keating
165: Clayton Ulrey vs. #23 Justin McCoy
174: #3 Justin Phillips
184: #14 Hunter Bolen vs. #25 Michael Battista
197: #30 Dakota Howard vs. #16 Jay Aiello
285: #14 Nathan Traxler vs. #32 Quinn Miller

#18 North Carolina at #4 North Carolina State

The rivalry between UNC and NC State is STRONG and we will get to see it play out on the mat in Raleigh Friday night. There are some awesome matches in this dual and I fully expect this to be a battle from the opening whistle. There are a lot of potential focus matches in this dual, so I’ll try to narrow it down to a couple. The match between Wilson and Sherman will be the 8th match between them in their college careers–Wilson holds a strong 6-1 record in these matches. At 157, I fully expect to see some fireworks between O’Connor and Scott–both of them are wide open and not afraid to go upper body and they can both put up crazy amounts of points. It should be a fun one. The other two big matches to watch feature the Hidlay brothers. They will both face #9 ranked Tar Heels, who have been on an absolute heater. Lautt had won 9 straight before dropping a decision to Mekhi Lewis last week. Kane has won 13 straight, including the upset win over Bolen last week. Both Hiday brothers come in with unblemished records. Hayden is 11-0 with a 73% bonus rate and Trent is 13-0 with a 92% bonus rate. Both have been dominating nearly everyone in their path and don’t seem to be ready to stop any time soon. Both matches will be statement wins–no matter which way they end up.

125: Spencer Moore vs. #14 Jakob Camacho
133: #21 Joe Heilmann vs. #14 Kai Orine
141: #7 Kizhan Clarke vs. #24 Ryan Jack
149: #17 Zach Sherman vs. Zach Sherman #3 Tariq Wilson
157: #5 Austin O’Connor vs. #11 Ed Scott
165: Isaias Estrada vs. #21 Thomas Bullard
174: #9 Clay Lautt vs. Clay Lautt #4 Hayden Hidlay
184: #9 Gavin Kane vs. Kane #3 Trent Hidlay
197: #27 Max Shaw vs. #15 Isaac Trumble
285: Brandon Whitman vs. #26 Tyrie Houghton

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