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Wrestling Preview: No. 1 Penn State at Purdue

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Fresh off a dominating performance at the Southern Scuffle, the Nittany Lions will swing through the Crossroads of America. First stop: West Lafayette.

First of all, there's this news out of the wrestling room--as of Friday, Law still appears on the official PSU wrestling roster, but apparently not for long. He wrestled attached for Penn State in seven duals last season and was 13-7 over all in the year, his redshirt sophomore season; his first year in the program, he went 14-4 unattached. All indications are that his younger brother Triston, who is redshirting this year, will remain on the PSU roster.

Anyway, back to the actual dual preview. Penn State, of course, was kind of a big deal last week at the Southern Scuffle, putting six wrestlers into the finals, and crowning five of them Scuffle Champions. The biggest story was one young Bo Nickal, who jumped from fourth to first in the nation after defeating Cornell's Realbuto in the semifinals (almost by a major). After that tourney, the Nittany Lions jump right back into the dual season, where they are still undefeated and looking for their first such year under coach Sanderson.

The Boilermakers head into this dual, their first conference matchup, having posted a 5-1 record on the year with dominating performances against Bloomsburg, Shippensburg and Lock Haven, and going 2-1 at the Eastern Michigan Duals (including their sole loss on the year, a close one to Number 18 Central Michigan). They only have one ranked wrestler, but he's pretty darn good--and he's at a weight that's not a real dominating one for us, since we're still figuring it out (though juggling between three good guys is better than where we were at at this point last year, no?).

Last year, Penn State defeated Purdue in a closer-than-the-score-indicated 26-9 bout in Rec Hall that saw a couple of upsets. This year won't be the same.

How To Watch

What: #1 Penn State (5-0, 1-0 Big Ten) vs  Purdue (5-1, 0-0 Big Ten)

Where: Holloway Gymnasium, West Lafayette, IN

When: Friday, 1/8, 7 pm ET

Audio: Free Jeff "Ironhead" Byers, via GoPSUSports

Video: No tv; as of writing, internet tv is tbd.

Projected Lineups

No. 1 Penn State WT Purdue
#4 - Nico Megaludis (Sr., Murraysville, PA) 125 UR - Ben Thornton (Fr., Stoddard, WI)
#4 - Jordan Conaway (Sr., Abbottstown, PA) 133

UR - Luke Welch (So., Newburgh, IN)

OR UR Cody Pae (Jr., Fulton, MO)

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

UR - Danny Sabatello (Sr., Long Grove, IL)

OR UR Kyle Ayersman (Jr., Dyler, IN)

#1 - Zain Retherford (So., Benton, PA) 149 UR - Alex Griffin (Jr., Lafayette, IN)
#3 - Jason Nolf (Fr., Kitanning, PA) 157 UR - Doug Welch (Sr., Newburgh, IN)

#19 - Geno Morelli (Jr., DuBois, PA)

OR Shakur Rasheed (Fr., Coram, NY)

OR Garett Hammond (So., Chambersburg, PA)

165

#5 - Chad Welch (Sr., Newburgh, IN)

OR UR - Peter Andreotti (Fr., Chicago, IL)

#1 - Bo Nickal (Fr., Allen, TX) 174 UR - Jacob Morrissey (So., Oconto Falls, WI)
#13 - Matt McCutcheon (So., Kiski Area, PA) 184 UR - Tanner Lynde (Jr., Delphi, IN)
#1 - Morgan McIntosh (Sr., Santa Ana, CA) 197 UR - Drake Stein (Sr., Francisco, IN)
UR - Jan Johnson (Fr., Mohnton, PA) 285

UR - Tyler Kral (Jr., Crown Point, IN)

OR UR - Jarcob Aven (Fr., Zionsville, IN)

125 LBS

Nico rolled through mostly lesser competition last week--though he did fairly dominate #5 Eddie Klimara of Ok State. I'm sure he wants back that Dance match, and I don't blame him. I keep calling for him to tech or pin his guys ever since he pinned his Lock Haven competition and he hasn't quite been there, so I'm going conservative here--both he and his opponent tonight have wrestled said Lock Haven opponent, and their victories were quite different, with Thornton winning a close one and Nico pinning his guy in the opening seconds of the third. I'm expecting bonus points, but not many--with the final score looking closer than this one actually feels.

Prediction: Nico by Major

Score: PSU 4, Purdue 0

133 LBS 

Conaway moved up this week in the rankings and deservedly so--he performed very well last week, making it to the finals before falling to Nahshon Garrett, who's just heads above everyone else at this weight. Last year here, Purdue had a then-ranked wrestler (Danny Sabatello--now unranked at 141) who unexpectedly downed then-#6 Jimmy Gulibon. This year won't be the same, and Jordan takes care of business over one of the dozen Welch brothers on the Purdue roster.

Prediction: Jordan by Major

Score: PSU 8, Purdue 0

141 LBS - Match of the Meet #1

The prematch notes say that Gulibon is going here. I don't buy it. I'd be very surprised if he actually steps on the mat, as he just didn't look himself at the Scuffle, and actually hasn't since his early season injury. I expect Kade, who did very well in his absence against Wisconsin, and again last weekend even though Jimmy technically wrestled, to get the nod here--and to do well against Sabatello, who was ranked at points last season at a lower weight. Sabatello's back to his more natural 141, and though he went to the NCAAs twice, I actually like Kade here. Note, though, if Gulibon gets the nod--I actually give the edge to Danny.

Prediction: Moss by Dec

Score: PSU 11, Purdue 0

149 LBS

Another day, another victim for Zain. He doesn't wrestle. He just wins.

Prediction: ZPain by Fall

Score: PSU 17, Purdue 0

157 LBS

Jason gets another Welch brother; this one is Doug, who was ranked last year when he upset then-#7 Dylan Alton,  one of many wrestlers to do so after Alton's string of unfortunate injuries. Well, young Mr. Welch, I'm afraid to tell you that this is a different year--and Jason Nolf is no Dylan Alton. Thank God, says Penn State wrestling fans everywhere.

Prediction: Nolf by Tech Fall

Score: PSU 22, Purdue 0

HALFTIME

I'm gonna gamble and say there isn't one tonight.

165 LBS - Match of the Meet #2

I really have no idea who goes at this weight for the Nittany Lions, but I'm not really sure it matters. The final Welch brother in the Purdue lineup goes down a weight this season, and it's paid off dividends for him. Chad was pinned in the first period last year by Hulk Hands, and this year he's a top five wrestler--what a difference a year makes. He'll have his hands full this meet with whomever takes the mat for the Lions (my money's on Morelli again, with an outside shot on Shakur, sloppy performance at the Scuffle notwithstanding) but I see him coming out victorious either way--he has a 19-2 record on the year for a reason. It'll be close, but the Boilermakers will finally get their first points on the board.

Prediction: Chad Welch by Dec

Score: PSU 22, Purdue 3

174 LBS 

/Watches Bo's win over Realbuto again

/swoons

/collects self in order to finish this preview

Prediction: Bo by Fall

Score: PSU 27, Purdue 3

184 LBS

Mouse did not lose at the Scuffle. That counts for something, right?

Similar to Gulibon, even though he's the only one listed in the prematch notes, I highly doubt he gets the go here--he wasn't himself, and when he is he's been unstoppable this year. I expect Phipps to go--even though as my esteemed, witty colleague bscaff tells me he's been attempting to bulk up to 197. It likely won't make much of a difference; Lynde, his opponent today, also bounces between 197 and 184 and has a losing record for the year. But he isn't coached by Sanderson.

Prediction: Phipps by Dec

Score: PSU 31, Purdue 3

197 LBS

Morgan is looking for a greater podium this year than the Scuffle one, and is certainly flying under a lot of our fans' radar this year--being overshadowed by a lot of the younger guys. He's silently taking care of all of his business week in and week out. It may not be pretty, but he's getting the job done. He tech falled Drake Stein last year; why not this year too?

Prediction: Morg by Tech Fall

Score: PSU 36, Purdue 3

285 LBS

I really, really give credit to Jan Johnson for all of his hard work this year--and I'm sure I'm not alone. The fact that he actually won his first match makes it even better. Whomever he faces today isn't a great heavyweight but likely will have at least 40 pounds on him--and since Johnson went 0 for 2 at the Scuffle, the best I'm hoping for is keeping it close. And getting more experience on the mat, on the road.

Prediction: the Boilermaker by Dec

Score: PSU 36, Purdue 6