InterMat Wrestling – Duke vs #18 North Carolina Preview

174 Liberals Kid Lute (left) and Matt Vinsilver (Photo/Sam Janicki;

Duke in North Carolina

The Blue Devils travel through town to take on the Tar Heels in a competition as old as the schools. On paper, this is lopsided for UNC, but there are some great matches here, and some omissions that could certainly be in Duke’s favour to bring this duo closer. UNC had a brutal double schedule early in the season and threw themselves into the flames of competition early and often – they took some blocks on the scoreboard, but I think they’re better because of that. Duke got off to his best start in seven years and has bonus point machines at Finesilver Brothers. Both brothers have a great duo match with #8 Josh facing #20 Zach Sherman at 149 and #13 Matt facing #16 Clay Lautt at 174. Not to get lost in the opening week of the conference duo, UNC will also match Little Rock on Sunday at home .

125: Logan Agen vs. Spencer Moore

This may be an emerging rivalry among the new students in this match. Agin is 10-7 coming and Moore 9-10. Both are active wrestlers and don’t mind starting positions to score points. This will be an important metric for us to see how much growth Spencer has had during the non-conference season.

133: Drake Doolittle vs #10 Jaime Hernandez

Hernandez has been out of injury since mid-December but has made a hot start to the season. He comes in 5-0 while Doolittle holds a 4-14 season record.

141: Patrick Rowland vs #7 Kayzan Clark

Clarke is another Tar Heel who had a great year when he was 12-0 and finished seventh. He has been dominant and seems to be handling weight reduction very well.

149: #13 Josh Vensilver vs #20 Zach Sherman

Heading into the season, this game was about a lot of schedules; Sherman was of American descent last year, while Vensilver fell for the blood tour. Finesilver has looked excellent this season, taking the record 21-2 with his only losses to All-American #5 John Millner of the App State. However, Sherman’s start wasn’t great. He comes in 2-5 but faced one of the toughest dates in the country in the first half of the season. His losses have been to wrestlers ranked 2, 4, 6, 9 and 10 in the current standings – not the best way to mitigate the season. I still believe this is going to be a great match. UNC coaches are satisfied with the improvements that Sherman has made and where he is going to the bilateral conference. I’m leaning on Finesilver here, but this match could go a long way for Sherman to show he still belongs in the top tier of 149.

157: Wade Angar vs #6 Austin O’Connor

Returning National Champion Austin O’Connor hit a record 7-1, his only loss to Peyton Robb of Nebraska #5 in a close match. Ungar had good moments with the Blue Devils; Sophomore brings the record 9-10. I expect a lot of attack from O’Connor here and I don’t think Ungar will be able to do much to stop him.

165: Gabi Dennett vs. Sonny Santiago

This could be a great match with two equal wrestlers. Santiago 6-7 while Dennett is 7-7, but it looks like he’s found his groove recently.

174: #13 Matt Vensilver vs #16 Clay Lot

Finesilver began the season with a winning streak of 20 before losing a “not-so-great” couple at the Southern Scuffle. He rebounded to win the last two and is sitting at 22-2 on the year. Lautt wasn’t the first to start at 174, with Gavin Kane taking the wrestling victory, but the team quickly balanced out to find the best lineup with Lautt at 174 and Kane at 184. Since he took the starting point, he’s gone 4-3 with close losses to front Rocky Jordan, Mickey Labriola and Thomas Fleets – all ranked at the time of the loss. I give preference to Finesilver in this match, but it has to be a fight.

184: Vincent Baker vs. #22 Gavin Keane

Becker has looked better lately, but entered the match at 0.500 with a 10-10 record. Kane comes in with a 7-2 score. Since moving to 184, it’s 3-0 with quality wins over Caleb Hopkins and Chris Wheeler.

197: Caden Russell vs #28 Max Show

Russell is someone I’ve been high on all year. He had glimpses of great potential, especially in duets. He has eight doubles wins and six of them as a bonus this year – he’s 12-8 overall and has done better in doubles mode. Shaw is 7-3 on the year and two of his three losses are for seeded wrestlers Greg Polsack and Braxton Amos.

285: Jonah Nissenbaum vs. Brandon Whitman

I don’t expect the team’s score to be balanced when we get to heavyweight, but this could be a good match sneaky until it’s over. Whitman is 6-7 but has some close losses. Niesenbaum comes in at 13-6 with three of those losses in a surprise victory. Niesenbaum played a significant role in some of Duke’s top team wins this year and was in the ratings bubble. He has a lot of potential and could be a bright spot for Duke this year.

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