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Wrestling Preview: #2 Penn State at #20 Wisconsin

The Nittany Lions are on the road again, this time against a feisty Badger squad.

2016 NCAA Wrestling Championships

In their fifth dual meet in a row against ranked competition (and fourth out of those five on the road), the Penn State wrestling squad takes on a better-than-their-record Wisconsin team, and could it end up better for the home squad than last week’s dual in Carver-Hawkeye?

A year ago, the dual schedule was much more favorable for the Nittany Lions, and they took on both Wisconsin and Ohio State in the Bryce Jordan Center. The Lions ended up demolishing the Badgers in front of the raucous crowd, the fifth PSU win in a row, behind pins by Retherford and Nolf, and bonus points from Nickal, McCutcheon, and eventual national champion Nico Megaludis.

Wisconsin has losses to Ohio State, Minnesota, and Nebraska headed into this dual, and this week likely won’t fare much better for them - though their lineup is favorable, and they could win a few more of the tossups than normal.

How To Watch

What: #2 Penn State vs. #20 Wisconsin*

Where: UW Field House, Madison, WI

When: Friday, 1/27, 8 pm ET

Audio: Free, Jeff "Ironhead" Byers, via GoPSUSports

Video: BTN+

125 LBS

Nick Suriano proved last week that he’s rightthere with the best of the best at this weight. As it appears that Wisconsin’s regular starter at 125, Johnny Jiminez, isn’t going - instead, Suriano will bounce back against the Badgers backup, who hasn’t wrestled since the Midlands. Lenz isn’t bad by any means - he was a four-time Wisconsin high school champion - but he got tech falled by Gilman earlier this season. I’m close to predicting the same from Nick, but we’ll stick to only one bonus.

Prediction: Suriano by Major

Score: PSU 4, Wisconsin 0

133 LBS

With Jered Cortez officially out for the season after having shoulder surgery and Tristan Law trying to make weight, it falls on George Carpenter to carry the load at 133. The Carolina native was able to avoid getting pinned by the very good Corey Clark last week, and this week’s matchup should be much closer - Stickley is a true freshman who has found himself in some tough spots, getting pinned by Rutgers’ DelVecchio and Minnesota’s McKee. But he’s also a lot more tested than Carpenter (he has 29 matches on the season) and he’s wrestling at home.

Prediction: Stickley by Decision

Score: PSU 4, Wisconsin 3

141 LBS

Jimmy just does better when I pick against him. I almost picked him in the upset (despite the rankings, his win last week was an upset for most of us) last week, but didn’t - and I’m going the same this week. Martin got dominated by Nebraska’s McCrystal, much like Jimmy did, but also lost a pretty lopsided decision to Minnesota’s Thorn last week - so he’s looking for a bounceback, to stop a five-match losing skid. If Jimmy can keep it close in the first, he should be able to get this, but Martin’s able to score some points on his own if Jimmy isn’t vigilant.

Prediction: Martin by Decision

Score: PSU 4, Wisconsin 6

149 LBS

Zain isn’t even really slowed down by the flu - the best shot of anyone to beat him last week, and he still was able to walk away from an incredibly hostile CHA with a double tiebreaker period victory. He’s now facing an unranked wrestler, and he’s likely pissed off. This won’t end well for the Badger.

Prediction: Zain by Pin

Score: PSU 10, Wisconsin 6

157 LBS

Last week, Jason Nolf showed how much difference there was between #1 and #2 at this weight - a wide gulf’s worth. Kemerer’s not bad, but Jason’s just that good. And now he’s facing not Wisconsin’s normal starter in TJ Ruschell, who had the misfortune to be pinned by Nolf last year - but his backup. It should go much the same way.

Prediction: Nolf by Pin

Score: PSU 16, Wisconsin 6

165 LBS - Match of the Meet #1

The last Jordan cousin left at this weight is ranked third, and Cenzo is fourth - so this easily his toughest test yet, and a barometer of whether he’ll be able to challenge IMar and Massa for not just the Big Ten crown, but the whole enchilada this year - if he wins or even keeps it close, it could be a mess of a time at this weight, as Joseph takes on IMar in a few weeks, and Jordan takes on Massa. This is a fun weight in this conference, and I expect Cenzo to be the aggressor in this one, but Jordan’s experience and the home cooking will help him enough to pull out a close one - decided by only one or two points. If Geno can do it, so can Cenzo.

Prediction: Ike Jordan by Decision

Score: PSU 16, Wisconsin 9

174 LBS

Mark Hall’s debut didn’t go as everyone had hoped, but I for one am still super stoked to see this dude wrestle. He’ll get his groove back this week against an opponent who’s also cutting down a little bit - Christiansen was majored by Mouse last year in the BJC - and we should be treated to a plethora of Hall’s offensive firepower. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this one end before the seven minute mark, but I’m not calling it.

Prediction: Hall by Major

Score: PSU 20, Wisconsin 9

184 LBS

Last week’s spladle was a thing of beauty, and I can’t stop watching it. Bo’s on a mission this year and it’s a glorious thing to see - and next week’s dual in Columbus is circled on his calendar, no doubt. First up, though, is a freshman from Maryland in his second match back from injury - and we can’t guarantee he won’t get wounded (at least, his pride) in this one. If Bo can pin the great mullet, he can pin Hunter Ritter.

Prediction: Bo by Pin

Score: PSU 26, Wisconsin 9

197 LBS

This was the hardest matchup to predict for me. Mouse has been looking increasingly more injured as the season has gone on, as though the two-dual stretch through Minneapolis and Lincoln took its toll. Hey, at least he can eat this year, right? This week he gets another ranked foe, one who’s up *two* weights from a year ago, when he got majored by Bo in the last Wisconsin dual. This should be another nerve-wracking one that comes down to the wire, but I think Mouse gets it done.

Prediction: McCutcheon by Decision

Score: PSU 29, Wisconsin 9

285 LBS - Match of the Meet #2

Wisconsin’s only unbeaten wrestler, who’d be a clear #1 if it weren’t for a little-known guy by the name of Kyle Snyder, takes on one of Penn State’s four. Two may enter - only one may leave...and though Nick’s shown he’s clearly up on the level of heavyweight we’ve been crying out for for years, I’m just not sure he’s at Medbery’s level yet. This should be another close one, with a lot less scoring than we’re used to for Nevills (this will likely be more of a traditional shaved bear score) but I think Medbery’s experience gets him the W in the end.

Prediction: Medbery by Decision

Score: PSU 29, Wisconsin 12

*As this is a dual meet, I’m using the Intermat Dual Team rankings. In the Intermat Tournament rankings, Penn State is up to #1 after their win over Iowa, and Wisconsin is #13.