The Panthers (3-1, 1-1 ACC), currently ranked No. 12 according to the latest NWCA Coaches Poll , will hit the road to battle conference foe No. 21 Virginia (1-2, 0-2 ACC) at Memorial Gym in Charlottesville, Virginia, Friday night.
Pitt and Virginia are both coming off losses to top-10 opponents after the Panthers fell at No. 4 NC State and the Cavaliers dropped match against No. 8 Virginia Tech last weekend.
For Pitt, they have the upper hand in the matchup. Should the Panthers emerge victorious, they will earn their sixth consecutive win against Virginia. Pitt defeated the Cavaliers 23-10 last season at the Fitzgerald Field House and improved to 7-1 all-time against UVA.
Despite the lopsided record between the two squads, the 2021 Pitt-Virginia dual could be an entertaining event, with both teams featuring five ranked wrestlers according this week’s InterMat individual rankings.
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For the Panthers, No. 4 Micky Phillippi carries a 17-match winning streak into Friday night, when he expects to face No. 12 Louie Hayes from Virginia in an important clash at 133 pounds.
The other anticipated ranked matchups are at 165 and 197 pounds, where No. 11 Jake Wentzel of Pitt should meet No. 13 Jake Keating of Virginia and No. 8 Nino Bonaccorsi is expected to meet Virginia’s undefeated and No. 3-ranked Jay Aiello in a potential top-10 individual matchup. Both Pitt grapplers are looking for bouce-back wins against top-not opponents
At the conclusion of the dual, extra individual matches between Pitt and Virginia athletes will be held.
Here is what to watch for:
- Though Micky holds no resentment toward his old squad, he will still want to impress. Look for the redshirt junior to account for a bonus-point victory.
- While Wentzel and Bonaccorsi are the Pitt duo that want to emerge victorious the most, they will have the most challenging matches of the night. Expect one, but not both to win.
- Look for Pitt’s Kemerer to contend against No. 15, Justin McCoy. Whether the UVA grappler comes out strong or not, Kemerer is looking to carry momentum from last week, his biggest win of 2021 – NC State – to to this week’s UVA dual.
- Expect wins by freshman Jared McGill and senior Gregg Harvey at their respective weights – 174 and 184. They will both be hungry after NC State. These wins will prove critical toward the team race.
- Look for Pitt to beat the UVA Cavs in the end, but watch for it to be closer than it appears.
The Panthers will be back in action Friday, Feb. 5 for a home dual at The Fitz when they host ACC foe North Carolina. Wrestling will begin at 6 p.m.