After picking up its first Big Ten victory of the season, 26-12, over Maryland, No. 21 Minnesota (5-5, 1-1) hits the road this weekend for its first Big Ten dual away from the Twin Cities this year, a Sunday afternoon match against No. 9 Nebraska (8-1, 2-1). The match will be the first between the two since the 2012-13 season, a contest Minnesota won in Lincoln, 27-7.
The Huskers are also coming off a Friday night conference victory. Big Red traveled to Madison and kicked off their weekend with a 29-11 win over the Badgers. Like the Gophers, the win came on the heels of the team’s first Big Ten loss of the year. Also like the Gophers, the Huskers picked up their first conference loss on the third tiebreaking criteria. With its match against Rutgers tied at 16 after all 10 matches were complete, Nebraska found itself with 48 match points scored in decisions, major decisions and tech falls, three points fewer than the Scarlet Knights. That three-point margin was the exact same as it was in the Gophers-Hoosiers dual on Dec. 11 (55-52).
Prior to dropping its first dual of the season to Rutgers, Nebraska had built up a strong collection of wins, including victories over three ranked teams: Lehigh, Cornell and Oregon State.
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As it was for the Gophers, the Huskers’ Friday night match was a return to dual action after competing in one of the major, in-season tournaments over the holiday break. While Minnesota placed four wrestlers and finished sixth as a team at the Southern Scuffle, Nebraska was at the Midlands Championships. The team placed second in Evanston, with 10 wrestlers placing (including two at both 125 and 197 pounds).
Sunday’s dual promises to provide plenty of great matches, with at least one ranked wrestler expected to take the mat in each of the afternoon’s 10 bouts, thanks to the teams boasting a combined 13 ranked wrestlers throughout their lineups.
Three matches should pit ranked wrestlers against each other. These are also the three matchups on the bout card that have a previous history at the collegiate level.
Perhaps the most anticipated of this group will be a top-10 tilt between a pair of Jakes at 149 pounds — No. 5 Jake Sueflohn and No. 9 Jake Short. Sunday will be the second time the two have wrestled in college. Two seasons ago, while Short was redshirting, the two met at the Daktronics Open, where Sueflohn defeated Short, 6-4.
The most-wrestled series that will be renewed on Sunday comes at heavyweight, where No. 7 Michael Kroells and No. 17 Collin Jensen will meet for the fourth time. The two first went head-to-head at the 2012 Daktronics Open, when both were redshirting. Kroells took that match, 8-2. Kroells also swept a pair of meetings with Jensen last year, a 9-8 win at the Cliff Keen Invitational and an 8-4 decision at the Big Ten Championships.
At 197, No. 4 Brett Pfarr and No. 16 Aaron Studebaker will meet for the second time, but the first at their current weight class. Both were wrestling at 184 pounds when they met at the 2013 Cyclone Open, a match that Pfarr won, 7-2.
Sunday will be the 70th match in the Minnesota/Nebraska series, one that dates back to 1922. The Gophers hold a 50-19 advantage over the Huskers, including a current four-match winning streak that stretches back to the 2008-09 season, a year during which Nebraska knocked off Minnesota, 21-18, at the Lone Star Duals. Minnesota is 2-0 against Nebraska as Big Ten foes.
Sunday’s dual is set to begin at 2 p.m. Central. Fans can stream the entire meet live on BTN Plus, an online service that requires a subscription. Fans also can track all the action by following Gopher Wrestling on Twitter, which will provide live, mat-side updates throughout the dual.
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