These ACC wrestling dual rankings may surprise you, especially since a few months ago I actually ranked Virginia Tech at #1.
The ACC has gained massive traction in the past few years as teams like NC State, Virginia Tech, Pitt, and North Carolina have picked up their competitiveness on a national scale. With the attention on their conference, each team has risen to the occasion and produced incredible rivalry duals that wrestling fans now look forward to watching each year.
So, what do the preseason ACC dual rankings look like for 2021-2022?
NC State vs Virginia Tech: Who’s #1?
Last year’s Wolfpack vs Hokies dual came down to the wire. Tech’s Sam Latona (125) delivered the final takedown against Jakob Camacho at the buzzer to secure the dual and the ACC regular season championship. Therefore, Virginia Tech deserves to be #1 in the preseason dual rankings, right?
If you want to argue that Virginia Tech should be #1, then be my guest. The reason I’m ranking NC State at #1 in the ACC instead is because of their lineup changes.
Tariq Wilson is bumping up to 149 lbs and Hayden Hidlay is bumping up to 174 lbs. This is a different Wolfpack than we saw last year. I still expect Latona vs Camacho to be an influential match, but I’m really looking at 174 lbs. Count on Hayden Hidlay vs. Mekhi Lewis to be the key factor in the dual.
Another added aspect to this rivalry is Nathan Traxler (285 lbs), who Virginia Tech added in the offseason. He will play a big part in this dual, which keeps getting better year after year.
As of right now, I’m putting NC State as #1 and Virginia Tech at #2.
Pitt vs UNC: Which Team Wins?
While NC State and Virginia Tech are playing ball at the top of ACC wrestling conference, #3 Pitt and #4 UNC are chomping at the bit in these preseason dual rankings.
Between Pittsburgh and North Carolina, there are three returning NCAA finalists. Austin O’Connor is the only one of those finalists to ultimately seal the deal. But can he do enough to seal a dual victory for UNC?
Pitt has talent scattered throughout the lineup, and they have some tough incoming freshmen. This mix allows them to deal blows to UNC throughout the dual. Two of those talented wrestlers are transfers Gage Curry (125 lbs) from American and Elijah Cleary (157 lbs) from Ohio State.
On the other side, UNC also snagged an American transfer in Kizhan Clarke (149 lbs), who will add important points to the lineup. Again, O’Connor will add big points for UNC, considering he has one of the top 5 winning streaks heading into 2021-2022; however, it takes more than one guy to win a dual.
Because of the scattering of talent up and down the lineup, this will be a great matchup that I expect to come down to 285 lbs. Neither heavyweight is in the preseason top 25, so that makes things that much more exciting. For now, I’m giving the edge to Pitt.
Virginia & Duke: Can they Compete?
The ACC is stacked up top, but Virginia and Duke still give their all in every dual.
Don’t overlook Virginia. They defeated Pitt in a close match that came down to heavyweight (17-16), and they battled through the end against Virginia Tech to come up just short (19-15).
Duke has a tougher hill to climb, considering they are fighting a 31 dual losing streak. But, Matt Finesilver is back in the lineup after a redshirt season. He is joining his brother Josh in the top 25 by Intermat, and they will definitely be looking to get a Duke singlet on the podium this year.
Do you agree or disagree with these ACC wrestling dual rankings for the preseason?
ACC Wrestling Preseason Dual Rankings
- NC State
- Virginia Tech
- North Carolina