The postseason is upon us, and with all the down-ticket chaos, the matchup everyone was looking for was set a few weeks ago as Cael Sanderson’s Penn State squad, which demolished every team in its path by double digits (the closest anyone came to unseating the Nittany Lions was in their first road trip, the second away dual of the Big Ten season when they beat Nebraska 27-14), takes on John Smith’s Oklahoma State Cowboys.
Last year, Smith was adamant that he wouldn’t participate in wrestling’s BCS if he couldn’t take on Penn State. That didn’t bode to well for his squad, as they lost 29-18 to the Lions behind pins from Nico Megaludis, Jason Nolf, and Morgan McIntosh, capping off Sanderson’s first undefeated season while in Happy Valley. This year, despite being the lower ranked squad, PSU is likely once again the favorites, despite coming in with only 9 wrestlers ranked to Ok State’s ten.
With two of Oklahoma State’s lineup hailing from PSU volleyball great Micha Hancock’s hometown of Edmond, OK, I should like them more, right? But, alas, no. There’s too many good matches to pick a match or three as “matches of the meet” - but based on rankings alone Penn State is favored in seven of the ten. The question is how much bonus points with come into play - and whether the OSU wrestlers will, you know, actually wrestle.
How To Watch
What: #2 Penn State vs. #1 Oklahoma State
Where: Gallagher-Iba Arena, Stillwater, OK
When: Sunday, 2/19, 4 pm ET
Audio: Free, Jeff "Ironhead" Byers, via GoPSUSports
Video: FloWrestling/FloSports. It’s $12.50 per month (automatically renewed) or $150 per year.
|No. 2 Penn State||WT||No.1 Oklahoma State|
|No. 2 Penn State||WT||No.1 Oklahoma State|
|#2 - Nick Suriano (Fr., Paramus, NJ)||125||#11 - Nick Piccininni (Fr., East Setauket, NY)|
|UR - George Carpenter (So., Chapel Hill, NC) OR UR - Triston Law (Fr., Windber, PA)||133||#3 - Kaid Brock (Fr., Stillwater, OK)|
|#10 - Jimmy Gulibon (Sr., Latrobe, PA)||141||#1 - Dean Heil (Jr., Brunswick, OH)|
|#1 - Zain Retherford (Jr., Benton, PA)||149||#2 - Anthony Collica (Sr., Solon, OH)|
|#1 - Jason Nolf (So., Yatesboro, PA)||157||#6 - Joe Smith (So., Stillwater, OK)|
|#4 - Vincenzo Joseph (Fr., Pittsburgh, PA)||165||#8 - Chandler Rogers (So., Stillwater, OK)|
|#7 - Mark Hall (Fr., Apple Valley, MN)||174||#9 - Kyle Crutchmer (Sr., Tulsa, OK)|
|#2 - Bo Nickal (So., Allen, TX)||184||#4 - Nolan Boyd (Sr., Edmond, OK)|
|#9 - Matt McCutcheon (Jr., Apollo, PA)||197||#8 - Preston Weigel (So., Russell, KS)|
|#3 - Nick Nevills (So., Clovis, CA)||285||#6 - Austin Schafer (Sr., Edmond, OK)|
Two ranked freshmen, both named Nick. The odds are that this one is pretty close - but I have more faith in Penn State’s Nick in pulling it away. Piccininni, a four-time NY state champion, hasn’t been in Stillwater long enough to learn how to stall his way to not giving up bonus, and he was majored by both Gilman and Lizak. Suriano should be able to do the same.
Prediction: Suriano by Major
Score: PSU 4, OSU 0
Kaid Brock is a very good wrestler, who started out with an excellent true freshman season last year before medically redshirting. Why I don’t think it’ll be a tech fall or a pin? Brock is very good, but he just doesn’t score as much as many other greats at this weight (ie, NaTo or Cory Clark), and they weren’t even able to pin George Carpenter, who I’m assuming will go after Law’s unfortunate result against Maryland. George should be able to keep it to close bonus.
Prediction: Brock by Major
Score: PSU 4, OSU 4
Jimmy Gulibon was wrestling differently last year, and still kept it close with eventual national champion Heil, though he wasn’t able to score a takedown. My guess is this year it’ll be even closer, and Heil won’t be able to take Jimmy down four times in Stillwater - but he’ll thwart most of Jimmy’s offense (Gulibon notches one takedown) and do just enough to win in the end.
Prediction: Heil by Decision
Score: PSU 4, OSU 7
Collica is now up to #2 at this weight, surpassing Missou’s Mayes (the only wrestler he’s lost to this year) after he lost last week, and with a head to head over Sorensen. Can he keep it as close as the Iowa wrestler, and maybe even notch a takedown? No; they’ve only met twice (with Zain winning both), and he doesn’t have an in on our guy’s tendencies like Sorensen did earlier this year. But that doesn’t mean Zain scores bonus here, as Stallica will do his best turtling impression to keep Zain from doing what Zain does best.
Prediction: Zain by Decision
Score: PSU 7, OSU 7
When Jason Nolf demolished then-undefeated (and still-#2) Michael Kemerer a few weeks ago, the gulf between the Nittany Lion and the rest of this weight was made apparent. This match won’t be close, and the only question is how much the coach’s son decides to wrestle.
Prediction: Nolf by Major
Score: PSU 11, OSU 7
Last year, Rogers’ father passed away right before the National Dual meet, so he was unable to make it. This year he’s down a weight, filling the void for the dominant Alex Dieringer, and he’s very solid in his top-ten ranking, with wins over Stanford’s Subjeck and pins of Missouri’s and Oklahoma’s ranked wrestlers at this weight (Missou’s Lewis got revenge later in the season via a 11-10 decision). Cenzo has shown himself as the cream of this weight after his early loss to Subjeck, and will solidify that with a win here.
Prediction: Cenzo by Decision
Score: PSU 14, OSU 7
This was the match that I agonized over, before going with my gut and picking Mark Hall. I know, I know - they faced each other at the Southern Scuffle, and Hall dominated in a not-close 10-3 decision en route to the freshman’s title in Tennessee. But duals are different, as is wrestling as a visitor in a hostile environment. I could see this match going a few ways - Crutchmer could pull off a close win after Hall takes a shot and gives up a counter, Hall pulls out a close victory off a last-second takedown, or Hall absolutely dominates from start to finish. I think the most likely outcome is a combination of the last two, with seeming-domination not reflected in the score.
Prediction: Hall by Decision
Score: PSU 17, OSU 7
Nolan Boyd is a good wrestler (as evidenced by his record and ranking), but Bo is an excellent, generational wrestler. He’s looking for the matchup against Gabe Dean in March; all that stands between him is this matchup, and the Big Ten tournament. Field, schmield. This has the potential to get out of control quickly, but Boyd has been in Stillwater long enough for me to be loathe to pick against him being able to avoid being bonused, no matter how frustrated Nickal gets. This is another one that won’t be as close as the final score.
Prediction: Bo by Decision
Score: PSU 20, OSU 7
After McIntosh’s graduation and Bo’s bump up to 184, many at PSU were wondering if McCutcheon would find a place in the lineup with Anthony Cassar the natural 197 lber. He’s proven doubters wrong, being a solid place in this lineup; he’s lost, though, to the best at this weight, while dominating those below him. This should be a really good matchup, with either wrestler with the potential to win - this is truly the tossiest of toss ups in the day. I think home cooking, and lack of stall calls, gets it for Weigel.
Prediction: Weigel by Decision
Score: PSU 20, OSU 10
What a difference a year makes, to have a heavyweight that’s not just solid, but legitimately great. Nick got dominated by Snyder, but who doesn’t? His offense is not so common in the shaved bears, but he’s up against another wrestler who has more offense than you’d expect. Because of that, I’m expecting this one to be pretty low-scoring, with counters and more rideouts than either is used to. But Nick finds a way to win.
Prediction: Nevills by Decision
Score: PSU 23, OSU 10
*As this is a dual meet, I’m using the Intermat Dual Team rankings. In the Intermat Tournament rankings, the teams are flipped with Penn State at #1 and Oklahoma State at #2.