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Wrestling Preview: No. 1 Penn State vs No. 15 Wisconsin

The first of two duals to move from Rec Hall to the Bryce Jordan Center takes place this week as the Nittany Lions play host to the Badgers on Sunday.

ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?!
ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?!

Wisconsin is taking on Pitt on Saturday and will roll into State College the day after having only competed in two duals on the season and with three ranked wrestlers. The Nittany Lions, on the other hand, come in with a perfect 4-0 record, having rested for three weeks since their tour of California, and with ranked wrestlers at all weights save heavyweight.

Penn State has won four duals in a row against the Badgers and is 13-8 against the program overall, but they haven't faced each other since January 2013, when the Lions won 36-6 in Rec Hall behind a Quentin Wright pin, a David Taylor tech fall, and Ed Ruth accepting a medial forfeit--oh, those were the days...

But it is no less exciting to watch PSU wrestling this season, with a plethora of scoring options and some of the same pieces in place from the team that demolished that Badger squad. The lights of the BJC are intense--as both Pitt and Iowa know--and it'll be a lot for a young Wisconsin team to handle, though their strengths mostly match up to our weaknesses, however few they may be.

How To Watch

What: #1 Penn State (4-0, 0-0 Big Ten) vs  #15 Wisconsin (1-0, 0-0 Big Ten)

Where: Bryce Jordan Center, University Park, PA

When: Sunday, 12/13, 1 pm ET

Audio: Free Jeff "Ironhead" Byers, via GoPSUSports

Video: BTN Plus. Le Sigh

Projected Lineups

No.1 Penn State WT No.15 Wisconsin
#4 - Nico Megaludis (Sr., Murraysville, PA) 125 UR - Johnny Jiminez (Fr., St Charles, IL)
#8 - Jordan Conaway (Sr., Abbottstown, PA) 133

#4 - Ryan Taylor (Jr., Fayette County, OH)

OR UR - Jens Lantz (Fr., Ellsworth, WI)

#6 - Jimmy Gulibon (Jr., Derry, PA) 141

UR - Luke Rowh (Fr., Hastings, MN)

OR UR - Gabriel Grahek (So., Milwaukee, WI)

#1 - Zain Retherford (So., Benton, PA) 149 UR - Ryan Lubeck (Jr., Vesper, WI)
#3 - Jason Nolf (Fr., Kitanning, PA) 157 UR - TJ Ruschell (Jr., Crittenden, KY)
#19 - Shakur Rasheed (Fr., Coram, NY) 165 #3 - Isaac Jordan (Jr., Urbana, OH)
#5 - Bo Nickal (Fr., Allen, TX) 174 #16 - Ricky Robertson (So., Tinley Park, IL)
#13 - Matt McCutcheon (So., Kiski Area, PA) 184 UR - Ryan Christensen (Fr., Woodinville, WA)
#1 - Morgan McIntosh (Sr., Santa Ana, CA) 197 UR - Eric Peissig (So., Menomonie, WI)
UR - Jan Johnson (TrFr., Mohnton, PA) 285 UR - Brock Horwath (Sr., Stillwater, MN)

125 LBS

Fresh off a first place finish at the Nittany Lion open where he logged a tech fall, three pins and a major decision, Megaludis continues to impress--when his opponents let him actually wrestle. He'll be facing an overmatched true sophomore in Jiminez who, while a four-time Illinois state high school champion, went under .500 as a true freshman when forced into action partway through the season. If the dual starts here, it should start off well for the Lions.

Prediction: Nico by Tech Fall

Score: PSU 5, Wisconsin 0

133 LBS - Match of the Meet #1

The prematch notes list this a gametime decision between the nation's number four wrestler, Ryan Taylor, and redshirt freshman Jens Lantz out of Ellsworth, WI. If Taylor goes, it'll be his first match back from a recent injury; he's a returning All American at this weight, where he lost to Jimmy Gulibon in sudden victory in the quarterfinals last year. If Taylor's still to banged up to go, or doesn't do well against the Panthers on Friday, Lantz will get the start; that will make the match decidedly less exciting, but more beneficial to Penn State's overall score on the day. Either way, Jordan is the better conditioned of the wrestlers, with a 7-1 record on the year and his only loss to redshirting teammate Jered Cortez in last week's NLO. If Taylor's a go, it should be closer in score, but Conaway feeds off the BJC crowd.

And yes, originally I had Taylor winning this bout. But such is the flip-flopping mind of a wrestling blogger.

Prediction: Jordan by Decision

Score: PSU 8, Wisconsin 0

141 LBS

Jimmy medically forfeited after the third round of the Open last weekend, keeping his record at 5-2 on the year. This weekend should be fairly breezy for him, as both options for Wisconsin at this weight are young with limited collegiate experience; Grahek went 12-6 in competition for the Badgers last season, but actually lost to an unattached, redshirting Rowh when they faced each other near the end of the season. Rowh got the go in their only previous dual on the year, and needed sudden victory to take care of his UW-Whitewater opponent. Jimmy should win fairly easily.

Prediction: Gulibon by Major

Score: PSU 12, Wisconsin 0

149 LBS

I'm just going to insert this in every preview of Zain's matches from here until the end of the season.

No additional commentary necessary, though I am going to add one thing: it's about darn time he's number 1.

Prediction: ZPain by Fall

Score: PSU 18, Wisconsin 0

157 LBS 

The freshman phenom is still undefeated (9-0) on the year, with only one non-bonus point bout so far. He demolished the field last weekend at the Nittany Lion open with four pins, a tech fall and a near-tech major in which he scored 27 points--the kid's a bonus point machine, if you haven't figured it out by now. This week should be nothing different as Jason will look to score quickly, and a lot.

Prediction: Nolf by Tech Fall

Score: PSU 23, Wisconsin 0

HALFTIME

This is when Cari runs out to the Bryce Jordan Center mezzanine and checks to make sure that this comment section hasn't burned down.

And maybe grabs some Creamery ice cream.

165 LBS - Match of the Meet #2

With Taylor's injury, Jordan is the sure thing on this Badger squad, the returning Big Ten champion (beating his cousin in the finals, Ohio State's Bo Jordan) and an All-American last year at this weight. Ike doesn't tend to score a lot of points--it's either a pin, or a decision, this year for him in his non-dual action--but he's dangerous, and very good. And though Rasheed has gotten better each week, this is by far his toughest test, and the crowd won't be enough to help him on this one.

Prediction: Ike by Decision

Score: PSU 23, Wisconsin 3

174 LBS - Match of the Meet #3

I know that Nolf is the freshman that gets everyone all hot and bothered, but it's all Bo Nickal for me--possibly because of the blonde hair. Regardless, Nickal is also undefeated on the season, slowly but surely climbing up the ranks and having a better-than-expected weekend last week at the Nittany Lion Open, finishing first with three pins, a tech and a major decision in the final over Ohio State's unattached Myles Martin. This week he wrestles Bucky's ranked Ricky Robertson, 10-4 on the year. Robertson has some good wins on the year and potential as a redshirt sophomore who qualified for the NCAAs in his first year in the program last season, but Bo's just too good.

Prediction: Bo by Decision

Score: PSU 26, Wisconsin 3

184 LBS

Mouse had a good first two rounds at the Nittany Lion Open, with a tech and a pin, before losing in sudden victory due to an injury mid-match and medically forfeiting the consis. Provided the last week has allowed him to heal up, McCutcheon should be able to build on the momentum he's sustained so far this year (the injury-caused loss was his first of the season) and win fairly comfortably over Wisconsin's redshirt freshman, who is talented though he, like Taylor and Jordan, didn't participate in the Badgers' first dual of the year.

Prediction: Mouse by Decision

Score: PSU 29, Wisconsin 3

197 LBS

Five matches in the NLO, five bonus point wins for the senior leader of the Penn State squad (side note, look at that new #1 photo on Intermat). Morgan, like three of his teammates, is still undefeated on the season, and only his win over Tech's Haught came without bonus points--and it was only one point short. He's on a mission this year, and his next victim is a first-year starter for the Badgers. This match could be over fairly quickly.

Prediction: Morg by Pin

Score: PSU 35, Wisconsin 3

285 LBS

Johnson has been held out for the last few weeks, and the last dual meet against Stanford. He's 1-1 on the year, and has gotten much more acclimated to a big-time wrestling weight room--and the conditioning and training. We'll have a better idea this week where he'll stand all season long, but it likely won't be enough to compete against Wisconsin's redshirt senior who wrestled the shaved bears unattached last year to a 10-2 record--and got three pins on the season. Keeping it to a decision, and keeping himself in it for all three periods, will be a win for Johnson (if he doesn't forfeit).

Prediction: Horwath by Dec

Score: PSU 35, Wisconsin 6