Hands down the best non-conference dual meet on Penn State’s schedule (since Lehigh was so banged up when they came to Happy Valley), Arizona State comes to Rec Hall with one of the toughest schedules in the sport to date, with losses to Ohio State and NC State and a win over South Dakota State on the short season. It also features one of the best matches of the year, likely a preview of the NCAA finals in March, at 174 (plus another top ten matchup at 165).
The two squads haven’t met in a dual meet since 2001, but there’s been a ton of common opponents and matchups at the tourney. The Sun Devils got into town on Wednesday (to get acclimated to the time change, or the weather?) and have been using the Lorenzo complex to train prior to the matchup - it should be a good one!
How To Watch
What: #1 Penn State vs #14 Arizona State*
Where: Rec Hall, University Park, PA
When: Friday, December 14, 6 pm
Audio: Free, Jeff “Ironhead” Byers, via GoPSUSports
|No. 1 Penn State||WT||No. 14 Arizona State|
|No. 1 Penn State||WT||No. 14 Arizona State|
|Devin Schnupp (So., Lititz, PA)||125||#7 - Ryan Milhof (Sr., Suwanee, GA) OR Brandon Courtney (Fr., Goodyear, AZ)|
|Roman Bravo-Young (Fr., Tucson, AZ)||133||Josiah Kline (So, Tucson, AZ) OR Josh Kramer (Jr., Buckeye, AZ)|
|#4 - Nick Lee (So., Evansville, IN)||141||Cory Crooks (So., Anthem, AZ)|
|#12 - Brady Berge (Fr., Mantorville, MN) OR Jerod Verkleeren (Fr., Greensburg, PA)||149||#11 - Josh Maruca (Jr., Murrysville, PA)|
|#1 - Jason Nolf (Sr., Yatesboro, PA)||157||#16 - Christian Pagdilao (Sr., Redlands, CA)|
|#1 - Vincenzo Joseph (Jr., Pittsburgh, PA)||165||#5 - Josh Shields (Jr., Murrysville, PA)|
|#2 - Mark Hall (Jr., Apple Valley, MN)||174||#1 - Zahid Valencia (Jr., Bellflower, CA)|
|#4 - Shakur Rasheed (Sr., Coram, NY)||184||Kordell Norfleet (So., Chicago, IL)|
|#1 - Bo Nickal (Sr., Allen, TX)||197||Austyn Harris (Sr., Broomfield, CO)|
|#5 - Anthony Cassar (Sr., Rocky Hill, NJ) OR Nick Nevills (Sr., Clovis, CA)||285||Brady Daniel (Fr., Olney, MD)|
Schnupp looked ten times better last week, both on Friday on the road at Bucknell and back home against Lehigh on Sunday. But he’s likely facing a top ten wrestler, and I’m not sure he’s gotten good enough to beat a top guy. I expect he’ll keep it close in the beginning, but Milhof pulls away at the end.
Prediction: Milhof by major decision
Score: PSU 0, ASU 4
Is this the match that causes RBY to be ranked? I hope so.
He’s not wrestled the best competition so far this year, but Bravo-Young has had some pretty darn exciting moves on the short season:
THE FLYING SQUIRREL #SCtop10 pic.twitter.com/23L4giYQvp— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 3, 2018
He’ll get it done this week, and in impressive fashion.
Prediction: RBY by major decision
Score: PSU 4, ASU 4
Nick Lee is quietly becoming one of the best wrestlers in the country at this very deep weight. And who wants to bet that pulling his shirt last January and wrestling in the 2018 tourney has something to do with that? Lee knows what he wants, and he’s going for it - and he seems so business like in doing it.
Prediction: Lee by major decision
Score: PSU 8, ASU 4
I still don’t know what to make of this weight now that Zain is gone. I think both Berge and Verkleeren have the talent to hang with anyone in this weight (and really, none of them would be like the fight they have in the NLWC practice room) - but can they do it? This week is the first test,
Prediction: Maruca by decision
Score: PSU 8, ASU 7
Jason Nolf does Jason Nolf things - even with a ranked wrestler at this weight. I predict we’ll see something from Nolf that we didn’t expect, and he’ll get the pin if he really, really wants to (but I’m not sure he’d rather not wrestle longer).
Prediction: Nolf by tech fall
Score: PSU 13. ASU 7
Two years ago, I would have predicted Cenzo would lose this bout. Last year, I’d predict a squeaker. This year, Cenzo won’t make the match as close as the score indicates - as JP said in the article linked above, Cenzo doesn’t do anything crazy; he does the things that every wrestler is taught to do and how they’re taught to do them - he just does them so dang well. He won’t be challenged for a bit here.
Prediction: Cenzo by decision
Score: PSU 16, ASU 7
174 LBS - MATCH OF THE MEET
In the 2017 NCAA tournament, Hall and Valencia met in the semifinals, since Hall was seeded fifth after losing the Big Ten final to BoJo. He beat fourth seed Zach Epperly, and then up was Valencia. It was controversial, to be sure, but Hall narrowly overcame the Sun Devil, and went onto a more decisive victory over the Buckeye in a rematch of the previous tournament’s finals.
Then came the next season. Valencia and Hall met in a preseason match that didn’t count towards their sophomore season records, with Valencia on top. Hall blew through the Big Ten season with only one loss, and faced an undefeated Valencia in the finals.
That’s all well and good, Cari, but what about this season? Well, as you might guess, I waffled a bit on this prediction. One thing I was pretty sure about: whoever loses this match wins in the rematch in March. I think the home crowd, and sleeping in his own bed, is enough for Hall to get by in December - and I hope I’m wrong about the tourney.
Prediction: Hall by decision
Score: PSU 19, ASU 7
I went into this season feeling like Sheed would be either boom or bust, pin or a narrow decision. So far this year, he’s proved me wrong - and I’m sure he can win in whatever position he puts himself. New hair, new year. New Shakur?
Prediction: Rasheed by major decision
Score: PSU 23, ASU 7
Bo was a little disappointing last weekend, but we all know he thrives on the big stage. This match, on the deuce, doesn’t come much bigger during the regular season; if not because of the opponent (Harris will be terribly overmatched), then because of how many people will be watching. Bo’s a heel for many a wrestling fan, and this week should be fun for those of us who disagree.
Prediction: Bo by fall
Score: PSU 29, ASU 7
I know, I know. My Cassar-is-like-Snyder-only-lite is probably still premature. But still - how great is he out there? He’s outweighed by up to fifty pounds, but this isn’t Jan Johnson in the 2015-2016 season (which was also so much fun, despite the outcomes). Cassar fits right in at this weight, and is more athletic than almost anyone he faces. He’ll be fun to watch.
Prediction: Cassar by major decision
Score: PSU 33, ASU 7
*most places have Arizona Ranked #9, which is their Intermat tournament ranking; their dual meet ranking is #14, and since this is, in point of fact, a dual, I used that.