Four Big Ten teams have received automatic bids to next weekend’s NWCA/Cliff Keen National Duals quarterfinals.
Nebraska looks to join that quartet.
In order to do that, the 13th-ranked Huskers need to win twice Sunday in Ithaca, N.Y., during the opening round of the National Duals.
Nebraska will face No. 11 Virginia in the first round at noon. The NU-Virginia winner squares off against the Cornell-Hofstra winner at 2 p.m. for a spot in next Sunday’s quarterfinals, which will take place in Minneapolis.
“I’m really focused on Virginia right now and getting our guys to perform up to the highest level,” Nebraska coach Mark Manning said. “They have a lot of ranked guys, so we’ll have to wrestle well right away.”
Seven Cavaliers are ranked in the top 20 by Intermat. By comparison, Nebraska has four ranked wrestlers. But all four Huskers are in the top 10, while Virginia has two in the top 10.
The dual could hinge on the three matches pitting ranked wrestlers against one another:
Ľ At 149 pounds, NU’s Jake Sueflohn, ranked 10th, faces No. 20 Derek Valenti.
Ľ At 157, NU’s James Green, ranked sixth, squares off with No. 15 Jedd Moore. Green decisioned Moore 7-6 this season in Las Vegas.
Ľ At 174, No. 4 Robert Kokesh of Nebraska faces No. 16 Jon Fausey.
Virginia has won its past six duals and has gone 15-3 this season. The Huskers are 10-5 in duals while competing in the nation’s toughest conference — nine Big Ten teams are ranked in the top 20.
“It’s good that we get to wrestle teams we’re not accustomed to wrestling,” Manning said. “But for us, it’s about putting another building block on what we’ve already done. We’ve had a pretty good second half of the season, and the obvious reason for that is we’re healthy.”
Since Christmas, Nebraska has gone 4-2 in duals, with its losses coming at defending national champion Penn State and No. 2 Iowa.
ĽNOTES: The teams with automatic bids to next Sunday’s quarterfinals are No. 2 Iowa, No. 4 Minnesota, No. 5 Ohio State and No. 8 Illinois. The other teams in the field will be the winners of the four regionals this weekend — besides Cornell, Kent State, Oregon State and Missouri are hosting four-team regionals. ... Cornell is ranked 10th and has five individuals ranked. That group is led by Kyle Dake, who is undefeated and No. 1 at 165 pounds. ... Nebraska has won all three previous duals against Virginia. The last meeting was Nebraska’s 32-10 victory in 2004. Cornell has won 16 of the 20 duals against Nebraska, while the Huskers hold a 6-1 series lead over Hofstra.
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