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Wrestling Preview: No. 2 Penn State vs Northwestern

The Nittany Lions roll back home after another good road win and look to take care of business against an overmatched Big Ten foe.

Beitz - Tsirtsis

Northwestern is coming off a closer-than-the-final-score loss to Indiana at home on Friday night, having picked up wins in four of the six bouts of the night. The Lions are coming off a dominating road win over ranked Wisconsin, where they won seven. Even with a huge question mark at 133, this one should be Penn State’s easiest test in months, as the Wildats no longer have former NCAA champion Jason Tsirtsis, who’s now at Arizona State after having academic issues in Evanston.

The Nittany Lion wrestling team has beaten Northwestern twelve times in a row, though last year they did drop a bout to the then-ranked Wildcats en route to a 46-4 beatdown behind pins from Jordan Conaway, Nolf and Nickal, and five other bonus point bouts.

Northwestern has one ranked wrestler this year, but they did pick up a Big Ten dual victory when they narrowly defeated Michigan State two weeks ago—they do, however, have six dual victories on the season.

How To Watch

What: #2 Penn State vs. Northwestern*

Where: Rec Hall, University Park, PA

When: Sunday, 1/29, 2 pm ET

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

Video: it appears it will be on, not BTN plus

125 LBS

Nick was very close to a tech on Friday night, but simply ran out of time to get the extra couple of points. He was close to a tech, as well, when he faced Rubinetti at the Keystone Classic (he won by 12) and my guess is he’ll get the extra gas he needs to get over that hump this week.

Fun fact: the last time these two wrestlers met prior to the classic was in December 2014, when Suriano was a junior and Rubinetti a senior in high school. Nick won 3-1, and it was that close bout that “kept him humble”.

Prediction: Suriano by Tech Fall

Score: PSU 5, Northwestern 0

133 LBS

The Nittany Lions haven’t won a bout at 133 since Jered Cortez got injured, and my gut is telling me this could be the one. Not that Ipsarides is a bad wrestler; he did pin his Michigan State opponent, which ended up being the deciding factor in that dual win. But the home crowd can make the difference, and whomever the Lions trot out (my money’s on George) should be able to keep it close, and steal the win in the end.

Prediction: Law/Carpenter by Decision

Score: PSU 8, Northwestern 0

141 LBS

Jimmy Gulibon of mid to late January, where have you been all my life? You’re looking like 2016 Big Ten Tournament Jimmy, and I dig it. He’s wrestling a redshirt freshman with a losing record on the season (no relation to Stanford’s Joey, from what I can tell). But I am a woman of my word, after all.

Prediction: McKenna by Decision

Score: PSU 8, Northwestern 3

149 LBS

This isn’t even really going to be a question, right? This match’s opponent for Zain medically forfeited last year against Jimmy. Just a fun fact as you’re watching this one.

Prediction: Zain by Pin

Score: PSU 14, Northwestern 3

157 LBS

This year, Nolf is playing with his food less; he’s still getting some takedowns, sure, but he’s more into turning combinations and forcing his opponents into uncomfortable situations - in other words, it appears he’s learned from his teammate a weight down on how to score big points without necessarily playing catch-and-release. It’s glorious. And it will continue.

Prediction: Nolf by Pin

Score: PSU 20, Northwestern 3

165 LBS

Cenzo was ever so close to scoring the major upset on Friday night - but didn’t make a great decision, and Ike Jordan is a great wrestler and made him pay. I doubt he’ll make the same mistake twice, and though Sebastian is no slouch (he just picked up bonus on Friday), he did lose to Rasheed earlier in the year when he was still up at 174. Cenzo is comfortable at this weight, and has major firepower. This could get out of hand quickly, though I expect it to go the full seven and Joseph to narrowly miss the fifth point.

Prediction: Cenzo by Major

Score: PSU 24, Northwestern 3

174 LBS

Hall looked more like what we were expecting him to on Friday night, though he couldn’t quite put together the turning combinations he was looking for to get the fall. He’ll get there in time; in his way on Sunday is a freshman who is winless on the year, and only one of those bouts was closer than 15 points (a 14-3 loss to MSU’s Barnes). This could get ugly quickly.

Prediction: Hall by Pin

Score: PSU 30, Northwestern 3

184 LBS

Bo pinned Sliga at the Keystone classic earlier this year (and last year in the dual in Evanston), and nothing in how he’s wrestling (with a mission, angry and feisty) makes me think it’ll be any different this time - especially with the home crowd behind him. Bo knows wrestling, and if you’re ranked or not, it makes no difference.

Prediction: Bo by Pin

Score: PSU 36, Northwestern 3

197 LBS

Are 2-0 victories ever really dominating? On Friday night it sure seemed that way, as Mouse never looked in trouble of losing despite the low score. He rode out his ranked opponent really tough the entire third period, and once again looked every inch the ranked 197-lber. These two wrestlers met at the Keystone Classic, and though it wasn’t bonus it also wasn’t particularly close - Berkowitz only logged a single escape point, and Mouse rolled. This should be similar, a domination that just doesn’t show up in the score.

Prediction: McCutcheon by Decision

Score: PSU 39, Northwestern 3

285 LBS

Similar to Cenzo, Nick was so close to scoring the upset victory on Friday and proved he’s right there with the big guns (except maybe Snyder) at heavyweight. Next season, it’ll be all him; right now, he’ll continue to dominate offensively almost every single opponent they throw at him, and then wait for his opportunities at the Big Ten and NCAA tournament to make runs. I’m tempted to pick another TF for him this week (and holy hell, how great is that to say about a shaved bear?) but Jennings has some firepower of his own, and I expect he’ll be able to finish out all 7 minutes.

Prediction: Nevills by Major

Score: PSU 43, Northwestern 3

*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.