After taking on Northwestern on Friday, the Wolverines will make their way to State College on Sunday. Those two teams will be...quite different, even though the injury bug is likely to rear its ugly head in the lineup this week for the Lions.
Sophomore Matt McCutcheon moved up in the rankings this week despite injury defaulting against his Illinois opponent, but he's not likely to see the match (if he does get a chance to wrestle before Big Tens, it'll likely be to avenge last year's loss to one Kenny Courts next weekend). It won't make much difference, as though Michigan is ranked and has some very good wrestlers top to bottom, they're no match for this Penn State juggernaut.
Last year, the Nittany Lions narrowly beat Michigan. This year, though both teams are undefeated in conference dual meet action, it won't be so close.
How To Watch
What: #1 Penn State (11-0, 6-0 Big Ten) vs #10/6 Michigan (9-1, 4-0 Big Ten)
Where: Rec Hall/University Park, PA
When: Sunday, 2 pm ET
Audio: Free Jeff "Ironhead" Byers, via GoPSUSports
Video: online, BTN+
|No. 1 Penn State||WT||No. 10 Michigan|
|#4 - Nico Megaludis (Sr., Murraysville, PA)||125||UR - Conor Youtsey (Fr., Parma, MI)|
|#5 - Jordan Conaway (Sr., Abbottstown, PA)||133||#17 - Rossi Bruno (Sr., Brandon, FL)|
#14 - Jimmy Gulibon (Jr., Derry, PA)
OR Kade Moss (So., South Jordan, UT)
UR - George Fisher (So., St Charles, IL)
OR UR - Zac Hall (Fr., St Johns, MI)
|#1 - Zain Retherford (So., Benton, PA)||149||#6 - Alex Pantaleo (So., Canton, MI)|
|#1 - Jason Nolf (Fr., Kitanning, PA)||157||
#9 - Brian Murphy (Jr., Carol Stream, IL)
OR UR - Cody VanderHagen (Jr., Hazel Park, MI)
#17 - Shakur Rasheed (Fr., Coram, NY)
OR Geno Morelli (Jr., DuBois, PA)
|165||UR - Garrett Sutton (So., Richmond, IL)|
|#1 - Bo Nickal (Fr., Allen, TX)||174||#13 - Davonte Mahomes (Fr., Oak Park, IL)|
#9 - Matt McCutcheon (So., Kiski Area, PA)
OR UR - Brian Brill (Jr., Lock Haven, PA)
OR UR - Devon Van Cura (Fr., Washington, NC)
|184||#8 - Domenic Abounader (Jr., Gates Mills, OH)|
|#1 - Morgan McIntosh (Sr., Santa Ana, CA)||197||#6 - Max Huntley (Sr., Emerald Isle, NC)|
UR - Jan Johnson (Fr., Mohnton, PA)
OR UR - Wes Phipps (So., Grove City, PA)
|285||#4 - Adam Coon (Jr., Fowlerville, MI)|
Youtsey placed sixth last year at the NCAA tournament, but this year he's struggling (despite being ranked part of the year) with a 5-8 record on the season and losses to Michigan State's Rogaliner and Oregon State's Rios (not the ranked Beaver at this weight)--as well as a slew of losses to ranked guys, including newly ranked Indiana wrestler Elijah Oliver, who kept Nico to a decision a few weeks ago. He's able to slow down a lot of guys but I just don't see Nico being frustrated, and I think he scores way more than the three points Jordan put up on Youtsey last year. I think this is a statement win by Megaludis.
Prediction: Nico by Tech Fall
Score: PSU 5, Michigan 0
133 LBS - Match of the Meet #1
Bruno kept it really close with Richards when the two of them met a few weeks ago, but has had some tricky losses on the year--he was teched by Oklahoma's Cody Brewer, and pinned by Minnesota's Brancale (who's having a down year, like most of the Gopher squad) in the consis of Cliff Keen. Bruno is a good wrestler and keeps it close, but I think Jordan rebounds well from his loss to Richards last week and comes out with the win--much like Gulibon was able to do last year.
Prediction: Jordan by Decision
Score: PSU 8, Michigan 0
I'm still not sure what to make of Gulibon this year. I know he's good--but just how good? And is it the lingering effects of the injury, or, like some of last year, him getting in his own head? This week should go a long way to answering those questions, as either wrestler he'll face he should, on paper, be able to dominate. Fisher was ranked last year, but like a few wrestlers on the Michigan team, is having a more lackluster season this squad, and may not even go this week. The bad news is that Gulibon, wrestling hurt, lost to redshirt freshman Hall--supposedly Fisher's backup--at the Southern Scuffle--he'd likely like some payback on that one. Last week's Indiana dual was Hall's first attached meet in a Michigan singlet, and he came out with the win. I'm going for the win, without bonus points, this week--until Jimmy shows me more confidence, I think he'll get it done without flash.
Prediction: Jimmy by Decision
Score: PSU 11, Michigan 0
Two weeks ago, Zain majored two top five opponents in back to back duals. Why should the number six guy be any different? Why, indeed, especially when Zack Beitz took down Pantaleo (before losing to him again at the B1Gs). Pantaleo only beat Langenderfer, Zain's victim last week, by a 5-2 decision a few weeks ago--and his high ranking may mostly be because he only has two losses on the year, both to Oklahoma's Davion Jeffries, and some more recent wins over Hunter Steiber, Matt Kraus, and Colin Heffernan. I think the Wolverine gets a rude awakening to the upper echelon of this weight class this year. This isn't a match of the meet, because it won't be that close.
Prediction: ZPain by Major
Score: PSU 15, Michigan 0
157 LBS - Match of the Meet #2
Murphy was an All-American last year, returning from an injury that's left him not competing much on the year. Nolf just pinned a returning undefeated NCAA champion--the same returning champ that tech-falled Murphy in the second period a few weeks ago. Nolf will keep up his pace, and tire Murphy out--he'll be lucky to escape without being pinned or teched himself.
Prediction: Nolf by Major
Score: PSU 19, Michigan 0
Yep. I'm predicting a scoreless half for a top ten team. This Nittany Lion squad is that good.
Last week, Shakur got in a nice takedown and back points before getting gassed and giving up enough late takedowns to lose to the now-#6 wrestler by one point. He's still Penn State's best option at this weight, the most reliable scorer, and the guy looking to turn and get after his opponent rather than just ride him to victory--which is what Cael looks for. In his true freshman campaign, Sutton made it to the NCAAs, but that won't be enough this week.
Prediction: Rasheed by Decision
Score: Penn State 22, Michigan 0
Preseason, this was a stocked weight class, and Bo's road to the tournament looked really tough. It's still stocked. And the road was (is?) still tough, but hell if this Nickal kid hasn't ridden it well. I'm not sure of the stats, but by the end of the regular season it feels as if he'll have wrestled all of the top ten opponents in his weight class, which is pretty darn impressive--and the reason why he's still number one, despite the one loss to Nate Jackson a few weeks ago. Mahomes is a good wrestler (he was too good to redshirt last year before an injury let him medically redshirt), as were many of the opponents Bo's faced, but he's no Bo Nickal.
Prediction: Bo by Major
Score: PSU 26, Michigan 0
I would be very, very shocked if Mouse gets the go here. And because of that, I'm conceding defeat. I'd have liked Matt's chances to avenge last year's pin by Domenic if he was at 100%, because he's a different wrestler this year when he's healthy, but whether it is Brill or Van Cura, I just don't see them matching up with the NCAA qualifier.
Abounader doesn't score a lot of points in many matches (only five matches decided by bonus this year) but against a backup wrestler I'm calling it this week.
Prediction: Abounader by Major
Score: PSU 26, Michigan 4
197 LBS - Match of the Meet #3
This week marks the return of the Morgan McIntosh that frustrates a lot of Penn State fans--a low scoring, more defensive bout will likely be in store, as Huntley's a fifth-year senior returning All American with a ton of experience and three NCAA tournaments under his belt. He and Morgan have some similar results on the year, though he was pinned by Cal Bakersfield's Franklin, who McIntosh majored--and as we all know, the transitive property always works in college sports. Regardless, Morgan grinds it out with the win, and stays unbeaten on the year.
Prediction: Morg by Decision
Score: PSU 29, Michigan 4
Scuttlebutt is that Nick Nevills is more likely than not to return to the mat by the Big Ten tournament. That's welcome news for Penn Staters who like to head into the Saturday evening NCAA tournament session knowing their Lions have the title locked up.
There's a reason I haven't really talked about this week's particular matchup so far. It's because it scares me, because I remember how Coon came out of nowhere two years ago to win the Big Ten tournament. I fear for Johnson or Phipps.
Prediction: Coon by Pin
Score: PSU 29, Michigan 10