The Pitt Panthers, currently ranked No. 12 according to the latest NWCA Coaches Poll, will battle ACC rival No. 4 NC State Friday night at Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh, North Carolina. This will be Pitt’s first road conference dual of the season. The last time these ACC foes met, the Wolfpack got the better of the Panthers by way of a 21-12 dual meet decision at Fitzgerald Field House in February. Also, both squads battled fiercely at 2020 ACC Championships at Petersen Events Center in Pittsburgh, NC State edged Pitt, wining 81-77, in the team race to claim the title.
— ACC Wrestling (@ACCWrestling) January 21, 2021
With respect to ranked wrestlers, as many as 17 could take the mat.
According to the latest FloWrestling rankings, updated Jan. 19, there are six Pitt wrestlers ranked in the top-20: No. 5 Micky Philippi (133); No. 5 Nino Bonaccorsi (197); No. 6 Jake Wentzel (165); No. 16 Cole Matthews (141); and No.19 Gregg Harvey (184).
Pitt 174-pounder, Jared McGill, also shows up in polls by other ranking outlets.
As for the NC State squad, it places eight in the latest Flo poll: No. 2 Jakob Camacho (125); No. 2 Hayden Hidlay (157); No. 3 Trent Hidlay (184); No. 11 Tariq Wilson (141); No. 13 Daniel Bullard (174); No. 14 Thomas Bullard (174); No. 16 Jarrett Trombley (133); and No. 16 Brandon Metz (HWT).
NC State’s 149-pounder, Ed Scott, and 197-pounder, Nick Reenan, both show up in polls by other ranking outlets.
Here are five things to watch for during Friday’s dual:
- Look for the Panthers to prioritize not giving up bonus-point victories at weights where the matchup heavily leans toward NC State – especially at 125 and 157. Pitt will struggle to stay in the match if it surrenders five or six team points in those matches.
- Watch for both Jake Wentzel and Cole Matthews to try to find the right answers in their own individual matchups – ones that haven’t favored the Panthers’ duo in past matchups. Neither Wentzel nor Matthews have been able to get a win against either NC State grappler in the past.
- Pitt’s McGill and Harvey, both of whom are 4-0, will face their biggest tests of the year thus far against Bullard and Trent Hidlay respectively. In both cases, this is the first time the ACC foes will clash in their careers.
- Pitt captains Philippi and Bonaccorsi likely need to record bonus-point victories in their matches to keep the Blue and Gold alive in the dual meet race. Both bouts should favor the WPIAL wrestlers.
- Expect the race between these ACC rivals during the 2021 ACC Championships to be closer than Friday Night’s dual meet. Pitt is a better tournament team than dual meet team in my opinion. Pitt’s bonus-point victories will go further at ACCs than they will in this head-to-head matchup with the Wolfpack.
Friday’s dual will be followed by a series of extra matches which will count towards a wrestler’s season record.
The match can be seen Live on ACC Network or streamed via ESPN+ on ACC Network Extra. Historically speaking, NC State has won five of the last seven matchups between the two ACC affiliates.