No. 18 Pitt Faces Off Against North Carolina for Sole Possession of First Place of ACC
No. 18 Pitt hosts ACC rival North Carolina Friday, Feb. 3 at the Petersen Events Center at 7 p.m. The match is incredibly important for Pitt, as they have the opportunity to stand alone at the top of the ACC with a victory.
The Panthers come in 8-2 overall and 2-0 in ACC play and on a three match winning streak. They defeated Virginia on Jan. 20 in Charlottesville, Va. and shocked then ranked No. 7 Virginia Tech 26-12 last Friday, Jan. 27 in Blacksburg, Va.
With both teams coming in 2-0 in ACC play, the winner takes first place in the conference, making it an absolutely crucial match.
The Tar Heels have won the past seven matches in the series, but the Panthers have the talent to end the losing streak and come out victorious.
The probable matchups look like this:
Weight Class-Pitt wrestler vs. North Carolina wrestler.
125-No. 33 redshirt junior Colton Camacho vs. No. 19 graduate Jack Wagner
133-No. 6 redshirt senior Micky Phillippi vs. redshirt first-year Jace Palmer
141-No. 3 redshirt senior Cole Matthews vs. No. 13 redshirt first-year Lachlan McNeil
149-No. 29 redshirt sophomore Tyler Badgett vs. No. 27 graduate Zach Sherman or redshirt first-year Will Guida or first-year Jayden Scott
157-Senior Dazjon Casto or first-year Jared Keslar vs. No. 3 graduate Austin O’Connor
165-No. 23 redshirt senior Holden Heller vs. redshirt senior Joey Mazzara or graduate Gino Esposito
174-Redshirt first-year Luca Augustine vs. redshirt senior Michael Goldfeder or No. 8 graduate Clay Lautt
184-No. 18 redshirt junior Reece Heller vs. No. 13 sophomore Gavin Kane
197-No. 2 redshirt senior Nino Bonaccorsi vs. redshirt first-year Cade Lautt or redshirt sophomore Max Shaw
Heavyweight-No. 5 first-year Dayton Pitzer vs. senior Brandon Whitman
The probable matchups feature 14 ranked wrestlers total and four bouts that both wrestlers are in Intermats rankings.
Matthews (13-1) vs. McNeil (18-4) at 141 pounds is the best matchup of the night in terms of rankings and the winner has the potential to swing the momentum for their squad in the duel.
Reece Heller (15-3) faces off against a tough opponent in Kane (18-4) at 184 pounds, which should be a great matchup. Reece Heller is coming off a performance where he pinned Virginia Tech then ranked No. 7 Hunter Bolen last time out in in the second period. He earned NCAA and ACC Wrestler of the Week honors for that pin.
Camacho (13-6) started the Panthers off with a great pin on Hokies first-year Cooper Flynn last Friday and put his team on the winning path. He finds himself back in the Intermat rankings this week and also against a solid foe in Wagner at 125 pounds. If Camacho begins with a victory, the Panthers will be on the right track against the Tar Heels.
Badgett (14-8) is looking to get his first win in three weeks after losing his first two bouts in ACC duel meets, the only Pitt wrestler to do so. He is likely taking on Sherman at 149 pounds, who is also coming off a loss in his last time out. Guida and Scott are also potential wrestlers Badgett may face Friday night.
Bonaccorsi (10-0) might take on Shaw (11-6) in a rematch of last season at 197 pounds, in which Bonaccorsi won a 7-1 decision over Shaw. He also could potentially wrestle Cade Lautt (7-3) and will attempt to stay undefeated regardless.
Fan favorite Pitzer should also wrestle for the first time at home since Lehigh on Nov. 19. He still has two more weekends he can wrestle while also preserving his redshirt. He comes up against Whitman (9-11) in the heavyweight class.
Phillippi (9-1) defeated a great opponent in Virginia Tech then ranked No. 5 redshirt junior Sam Latona last Friday. He looks to continue to stay on track with a victory over Palmer (11-9) at 133 pounds.
Holden Heller (9-4) is another wrestler who defeated a tough opponent in Hokies then ranked No. 25 redshirt sophomore Connor Brady last time out. He comes up against either Mazzara (12-6) or Esposito (6-7) at 165 pounds.
Casto and Augustine lost in major decisions last weekend to some of the best wrestlers in the country and are potentially facing the same scenario against the Tar Heels again.
Casto (5-6) takes on the 2021 national champion in O’Connor (13-0) at 157 pounds and Augustine could take on Clay Lautt (6-2) at 174 pounds. Casto, or potentially Keslar (11-2), will need to wrestle at their best if they are to win against O’Connor. Augustine might also take on Goldfeder (8-5) who wrestled last weekend, but will prepare to wrestle either him or Lautt.