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Wrestling Preview: No. 1 Penn State at Michigan State

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After a very strong showing in Ann Arbor, the Nittany Lions head over to East Lansing for a showdown with the Spartans.

FloSports: FloWrestling Penn State at Ohio State Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

The Nittany Lions didn’t wrestle their best on Friday night, but still went into Ann Arbor and won 7 of ten bouts, including four wins over top-six opponents. The swing through the mitten state continues on Sunday, when the Lions next take on MSU.

Michigan State has one ranked wrestler, 141’s Javier Gasca III, a veteran who seemed to be the bane of Jimmy Gulibon’s existence in previous years. Penn State comes in with seven ranked grapplers, soon to be eight when Nick Lee enters the rankings (as he undoubtedly will) this week. The Lions have won 11 straight duals against the Spartans, but it’s been two years since they met; even in PSU’s relative “down” year of 2014-2015, the Lions shut out the Spartans.

There should be tons of points scored tonight, and a make-up of the relative lack of firepower on Friday.

How To Watch

What: #1 Penn State vs Michigan State

Where: Jenison Field House, East Lansing, MI

When: Sunday, 1/14, 1pm

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

Video: None (According to PSU; according to MSU, it’s on BTN+)

Lineup

No. 1 Penn State WT Michigan State
No. 1 Penn State WT Michigan State
Devin Schnupp (Fr., Lititz, PA) 125 Rayvon Foley (Fr., Ann Arbor, MI)
Corey Keener (Sr., Schuylkill Haven, PA) 133 Matt Santos (Fr., Saginaw, MI)
Luke Gardner (Fr., Pottsville, PA) OR Jered Cortez (Jr., Carol Stream, IL) OR Nick Lee (Fr., Evansville, IN) 141 #20 - Javier Gasca (Sr., Kingsburg, CA)
#1 - Zain Retherford (Sr., Benton, PA) 149 Jwan Britton (Fr., Muskegon, MI) OR Austin Eicher (Jr., Fenton, MI)
#1 - Jason Nolf (Jr., Yatesboro, PA) 157 Jake Tucker (Fr., Lowell, IN)
#1 - Vincenzo Joseph (So., Pittsburgh, PA) 165 Austin Hiles (Fr., Brecksville, OH) OR Logan Ritchie (So., New Boston, MI)
#2 - Mark Hall (So., Apple Valley, MN) 174 Austin Hiles (Fr., Brecksville, OH) OR Logan Ritchie (So., New Boston, MI)
#1 - Bo Nickal (Jr., Allen, TX) 184 Nick May (Fr., Kalamazoo, MI) OR Shwan Shadaia (Jr., Rochester Hills, MI)
Anthony Cassar (So., Rocky Hill, NJ) OR #10 Shakur Rasheed (Jr., Coram, NY) OR Matt McCutcheon (Sr., Apollo, PA) 197 Nick May (Fr., Kalamazoo, MI) OR Shwan Shadaia (Jr., Rochester Hills, MI)
#8 - Nick Nevills (Jr., Clovis, CA) 285 Matt Lloyd (Fr., Lansing, MI)

125 LBS

Schnupp is still undersized, and seems to be a bit overmatched. He’s pretty close to being competitive, though, and just needs to be able to finish his shots - he’s always active (shocker for a PSU wrestler, right?) and doesn’t go down without a fight. But that can leave him vulnerable. His opponent on the day is last year’s Michigan state high school wrestling champ, and has had a pretty good true freshman campaign so far, though he was pinned by Friday’s Schnupp opponent, Mattin of Michigan. Foley’s wrestled a ton in tourneys this year, and that can only help him here.

Prediction: Foley by Decision

Score: PSU 0, MSU 3

133 LBS

Off the heels of a disappointing Scuffle, Keener came out flat on Friday, getting majored by Micic. Facing a top ten wrestler who’s gotten you previously isn’t easy, and this bounceback should give us an idea of where Keener will be the rest of the season. I’m betting the coaches get him ready to go on Sunday, and he comes up big.

Prediction: Keener by Major Decision

Score: PSU 4, MSU 3

141 LBS - Match of the Meet

The official literature from PSU on this meet doesn’t list Nick Lee, but since he burned his redshirt on Friday, there’s a good bet that he’s the one to go against the Spartans. He’ll be up against last year’s Big Ten runner-up, the only ranked wrestler on MSU’s squad; Gasca isn’t having as great a redshirt senior campaign as previous, but he’s still sneaky good. This will be a great out for Lee, and I expect him to dominate from the start - and hopefully not let up as later.

Prediction: Lee by Decision

Score: PSU 7, MSU 3

149 LBS

Friday is evidence - don’t make Zain mad. It’s true if you’re a top ten guy; it’s even more true if you’re unranked. It’ll be awesome for us here at BSD, but for you, it means...

Prediction: Zain by Pin

Score: PSU 13, MSU 3

157 LBS

On Friday, Nolf wrestled his closest match in a few years; Pantaleo seemed to dictate the pace, and Nolf won by doing something we haven’t seen in a while - he rode out an entire period, when he’s used to playing catch and release. Tucker is his victim opponent after that close call, and I feel for the redshirt freshman - Jason will be out to make a statement.

Prediction: Nolf by Pin

Score: PSU 19, MSU 3

165 LBS

Oh me of little faith. Cenzo tried the patented inside trip that won him the match against Massa last year multiple times on Friday, to no avail - but then, when the Wolverine tried to get into a body lock situation, Joseph seemed to almost welcome the effort - before a six-point move that garnered him bonus points. Cenzo is the most unheralded of PSU’s murderers row, but he’s also in some ways the most fun to watch - he’s the wrestler that always seems to have so much joy out on the mat. He’s taken Cael’s mantra of having fun out there to heart, and it shows in his performance.

Prediction: Cenzo by Tech Fall

Score: PSU 24, MSU 3

174 LBS

Mark Hall’s gotta be disappointed by his Friday performance; it started out great, with him completely dominating Amine in nearly every fashion, but he seemed to let up as the match went on, and a narrow win adds to the sophomore’s resume. He’ll look to bounce back on Sunday, and if he tries that beautiful cement mixer against his Spartan foe (according to MSU, the wrestler that Cenzo doesn’t face), unlike Friday, it’ll stick.

Prediction: Hall by Pin

Score: PSU 30, MSU 3

184 LBS

In big matches, if there’s controversy with a PSU wrestler, odds are Bo Nickal is involved. Last year’s NCAA title match win over Gabe Dean featured many claims that PSU was the ref’s favorite, and this week’s match over Michigan’s Abounader was the same. Bo wrestled nowhere near his best, but was able to scramble through and win; even though the score wasn’t as close as others this year, it felt more in doubt. Whomever his opponent is in East Lansing, this one won’t come down to controversy; he’ll come out looking to beat his teammates in least amount of time on the mat. And this time, I think he’ll win again.

Prediction: Bo by Pin

Score: PSU 36, MSU 3

197 LBS

Shakur Rasheed made a case for being the starter on Friday after dominating a ranked foe in his first dual performance of the year. All accounts point to the Lions’ coaching staff splitting the starters at this weight, with Anthony Cassar getting the nod on Sunday versus Michigan State. Cassar should easily capture the victory, but not as high scoring; a more “traditional” 197er, the outcome won’t be in doubt, but I don’t see the backpoints being a factor. If Cassar gets bonus, it won’t be by much.

Prediction: Cassar by Decision

Score: PSU 39, MSU 3

285 LBS

Adam Coon showed on Friday the gulf between the top two heavyweights and the rest of the field; Nevills didn’t help his cause much, but should get a bounceback match that puts him mentally in the driver’s seat the rest of the season. The only reason I’m not picking bonus here is I think his last few outings have kind of gotten into his head a little bit, and though it’ll be dominant, this one will be low-scoring.

Prediction: Nevills by Decision

Score: PSU 42, MSU 3


*The Penn State athletic department, in its official capacity, uses Intermat Tournament Rankings in all its match literature; in those rankings, Penn State is #2 . It’s either that or Flo’s rankings (BTN has an exclusive contract), but I must be internet illiterate because I can’t find a link to updated Flo rankings. I’m using Intermat’s Dual Meet rankings because, a) this happens to be a dual meet, and b) it’s a better ranking for the Nittany Lions.