Illini Travel to #14 Nebraska, #4 Minnesota

Two-time All-American Jordan Blanton and the Illini hit the road to compete against No. 14 Nebraska and No. 4 Minnesota.
Two-time All-American Jordan Blanton and the Illini hit the road to compete against No. 14 Nebraska and No. 4 Minnesota.

Jan. 16, 2013

Illinois' Notes for Nebraska & Minnesota DualsGet Acrobat Reader

#5 Illinois at #14 Nebraska
Jan. 18 // NU Coliseum // 7 PM // Lincoln, Neb.

#5 Illinois at #4 Minnesota
Jan. 21 // Sports Pavilion // 7:30 // Big Ten Network (live) // Minneapolis, Minn.

#5 Illinois (5-0, 1-0) Probable Starters
125: 5/4 Jesse Delgado, 11-2, r-So.
133: 11/9 Daryl Thomas, 16-3, Sr.
141: 3/3 B.J. Futrell, 18-1, Sr.
149: -/- Caleb Ervin, 16-4, r-Fr.
157: -/- Matt Nora, 8-4, r-Fr.
165: 8/7 Conrad Polz, 11-3, Sr.
174: 8/8 Jordan Blanton, 14-2, Sr.
184: 18/13 Tony Dallago, 11-4, r-Jr.
197: 11/5 Mario Gonzalez, 6-1, r-Jr.
HWT: -/- Chris Lopez, 10-5, r-Fr.

Rankings are listed in Intermat, W.I.N., format

Quick Shots
• The Fighting Illini started off the Big Ten dual season with a victory over Purdue last Friday, improving to 54-29-2 over the Boilermakers and 1-0 in conference play. The squad faces one of the toughest road trips this season, facing No. 14 Nebraska on Friday and No. 4 Minnesota on Monday. Also, the Illini squad will be in the Takedown Radio studios (1460 KXNO) this Saturday at 9 am to review the season and preview the Big Ten Championships.

• Redshirt-senior B.J. Futrell has started his final season as one to remember, beginning his Big Ten season with a victory and tying his career-best second place finish at the Midlands Championship. He’s also the new school record holder in career pins. Futrell recently set the school record, and currently has 38 falls and counting. He is ranked No. 3 by W.I.N. Magazine, the highest of all Illini. 

• Sophomore Jesse Delgadoreturns as the starter at 125 after having a standout 2011-12 season. The Gilroy, Calif., native advanced to the finals of the 2012 Midlands Championships and placed second, a career-best finish. Last season he earned his first career All-America honor by placing seventh at the 2012 NCAA Championships and finished third at the Big Ten Championships. Delgado also went 6-2 during the Big Ten dual season and was the only wrestler to defeat No. 1 Matt McDonough of Iowa.

• Currently, the Illini are ranked in every weight class but two, including 141 pounder Futrell being ranked the highest at No. 3 in the country. The squad will look to Caleb Ervin to add success at the 149 spot and 157 pounder Matt Nora. Illinois' 133 pounder Daryl Thomas(No. 9) is in the ranks for the first time in his career.

Series Record Against the Huskers
Friday's meeting between the Illini and Huskers will be the first time the two have wrestled against each other since the 2002-03 season, however Illinois holds a 3-2 overall record over Nebraska. This will be the first time the two have competed against each other since Nebraksa joined the Big Ten in 2011. The last time the Illini defeated Nebraska was in 1996-97 when they won by a score of 32-11.

Series Record Against Minnesota
Illinois travels to Minnesota for the first time since the 2008 season where they defeated the Gophers 19-17. The Illini dropped a 25-9 dual to Minnesota a season ago as the Gophers improved to 24-27-2 all-time against the Illini. Minnesota was the NCAA runners-up last year and won the 2012 NWCA National Duals.

Matchups to Watch
There are a number of interesting matchups in Illinois' duals this weekend. Here's a look at a few key bouts:

#5 Illinois at #14 Nebraska
184: #13 Tony Dallago (ILL) vs. #7 Josh Ihnen (NEB)
Dallago will face Ihnen for the first time in his career as the Illini grappler will face his third ranked opponent this season. Ihnen is a 2012 All-American and a three-time NCAA Qualifier.

#5 Illinois at #4 Minnesota
174: #8 Jordan Blanton (ILL) vs. #2 Logan Storley (MINN)
Blanton will face Storley for the second time in his career as the Illini grappler has a 1-0 victory over the Gopher. The two met last season at the NCAA's with Blanton winning 1-0. Blanton has defeated four top-five ranked opponents since beginning his career as an Illini.

#5 Illini Find Success Against Purdue, 29-10
The Illinois wrestling team began the Big Ten season with a 29-10 victory over the Purdue Boilermakers in front of 1,069 fans to improve to 54-29-2 all time in the border battle. The Illini scored bonus points from three wrestlers including Jordan Blanton, Tony Dallago and BJ Futrell. Mario Gonzalez also defeated a ranked opponent while Matt Nora pinned a returning NCAA qualifier.