On Sunday at 2pm ET on BTN, #1 Penn State (13-0, 7-0 Big Ten) will face #2 Minnesota (9-1, 6-1 Big Ten) on the Resilite at the Gophers' Sports Pavillion. All 5,700 seats are spoken for, but StubHub, as you can tell from the cover photo of this post, has just 15 tickets available for purchase - starting at $156 per seat, plus taxes, fees, etc.
What is this, the Super Bowl? (Answer: yes, it is, more or less, a dual meet super bowl). It's also Senior Day for Minnesota. Let's get to the preview.
#2 Nico Megaludis vs. FR Sam Brancale
According to Minnesota coach J Robinson, Brancale struggled with weight management earlier in the season, and now has it under control. His evidence? Brancale pinned Iowa's #5 Thomas Gilman in the 1st period at Carver Hawkeye, and majored Indiana's Alonzo Sheppard in his last two matches.
Nico's returning to the lineup after a (forced) week off for rest, relaxation, and some of Mama Megaludis' home cooking. Look for Nico to work Brancale's elbow off the tie, to both sides; Brancale will want to tie up just as much as Nico, though he probably shouldn't. Nico will be pushing for bonus; Brancale might just have the stones to say 'bring it on'.
Line: Nico by DECISION (3-0 Penn State)
#16 Jimmy Gulibon vs. #8 SR David Thorn
Freshman Jimmy gets a rematch with Thorn, the senior All-American, on his home mat. In their first go at Southern Scuffle, Jimmy used an excellent re-shot and a good ride to pull out the victory, 4-3. This is going to be a swing match - and Minnesota has to have it. The pressure is squarely on Thorn to come through.
Line: Thorn by DECISION (Tied, 3-3)
#2 Zpain Retherford vs. #6 JR Chris Dardanes (OR someone else)
Dardanes, the 2x All-American, has missed the last two weeks with an injury. His replacements, Josh Shupe and Corey Hodowanic, have lost to Michigan and Indiana, respectively. Minnesota needs Dardanes back in the lineup to keep this dual close, or possibly even pull an upset here (no, probably not). If he's still out, look for Zpain to pick up bonus points - which would really put a dent in Goldy's chances at an upset.
Line: Zpain by DECISION (vs. Dardanes; PSU 6-3)
#8 Andrew Alton OR #15 Zack Beitz vs. #3 JR Nick Dardanes
Beatz and Dardanes just missed each other at the Southern Scuffle, when Beatz lost a last second match to #6 Villalonga from Cornell. Villalonga advanced to wrestle Dardanes, but forfeit.
Will we see Andrew? I'm not betting on it. I think it'll be Zack, and I think it'll be another grind-it-out, close decision.
Line: Dardanes by DECISION (we're tied again, 6-6)
157 LBS - Match of the Meet
#4 Dylan Alton vs. #8 JR Dylan Ness
Get ready for fireworks. Ness is as streaky as anyone in a singlet - but that's partly owing to his style. Ness will try any throw from any position, and can be absolutely deadly (both to his opponent, and himself at times). Dylan will look to keep this on his feet, maintain position, and grind out a high crotch or two - winning the old fashioned, boring way. Ness may just get a boost being in front of his home crowd. This is a toss-up.
Line: Ness by DECISION (MINN 9-6)
#1 David Taylor vs. SR Danny Zilverberg
During intermission, David Taylor will be psyching himself into a frenzy to score in bunches. It's a huge stage, in front of a filled house and national TV audience - and his team "needs" him. Look out, Mr. Zilverberg. Taylor tech fall'ed #6 Dan Yates in 6 minutes or so in front of Yates' home crowd on his senior day. So don't expect any favors.
Line: Taylor by TECH FALL (PSU retakes the lead, 11-9)
#3 Matt Brown vs. #6 JR Logan Storley
These two have met 5 times, and Hulk Hands has won 4 of them, including 3 in a row. Storley is awfully good, and dangerous. But Matt Brown has improved a ton year-over-year, and sometimes a guy just has your number.
Line: Hulk Hands by DECISION (PSU 14-9)
#2 Ed Ruth vs. #8 SR Kevin Steinhouse
I'm a huge Steinhouse fan - he's a beast, and he's so sharp technically. But he's been just a little "off" in his return from a bad knee injury this year. Meanwhile, Ed is an all-timer. As good as Steinhouse is, if Ed pushes the pace, he could score bonus here, and put this dual out of reach. On the other hand, it's also Senior Day.
Line: Ed by DECISION (PSU 17-9)
#7 Morgan McIntosh vs. #1 JR Scott Schiller
Morgan is scoring takedowns at an incredible rate - nearly 4 per match in conference. But he's struggled getting out from bottom at times. Schiller, after reaching the podium last year, has really taken off this season, dramatically improving his neutral offense, while maintaining a very hard ride. This should be a whale of a match.
Line: Schiller by DECISION (PSU 17-12)
Jon Gingrich vs. #5 SR Tony Nelson
#12 Jimmy Lawson is still out, and Jon will get another top-5 heavyweight in his place. This one is also the current 2x defending national champion, wrestling his last match at home, needing a pin to get his team the victory. He won't get it.
Line: Nelson by DECISION (PSU wins, 17-15)
Penn State's wrestled 10 duals against 8 different ranked opponents and 2 un-ranked conference enemies - and whupped 'em all on the takedown count. The closest anyone has come was Iowa, who still fell 8 takedowns short of matching the Lions.
|vs.#13 Ohio St
|at #11 Michigan||+25|
|at #23 Lehigh||+22|
|vs. #18 Illinois||+18|
|vs. #6 Pitt||+12|
|at #3 Iowa (non-con)
|at #2 Minnesota||???|
**at Boston U, at Rider, and vs. Lock Haven not included above (obviously)
Takedowns by Wrestler - Conference Duals Only (includes the Iowa non-con)
|Wt||Wrestler||P1||P2||P3||OT||Total||TD +/-|| W's ||L's||TD/Match|
|Team Total||107-12||49-6||56-10||2-2||214 - 30||+184||66||14||2.3|
Plus 184..........nuts. They come out shooting, that's for sure. PSU holds a 107 - 12 takedown advantage in the first period, in 80 Big Ten conference* matches.
(*yes - we're counting the Iowa dual).