Penn State’s won the regular season Big Ten tournament, and so to end the season they have an out of conference home dual, and it should be a pretty solid dual meet for the good guys. It’s been forty years since the Nittany Lions have wrestled Buffalo, though the two teams do share a few similar opponents, most recently Binghamton, whom the Bulls last wrestled.
It’s the last time in a Penn State singlet for vaunted senior and likely Hodge trophy candidate Zain Retherford, as well as transfer seniors Corey Keener and Carson Kuhn, the latter of whom looks for his first dual meet win as a Penn Stater. Also something to watch out for this weekend is how returning NCAA champ Cenzo Joseph bounces back from his first loss of the season to Iowa’s Alex Marinelli, whom he dominated for much of the match until a six point move that caught the now-number three wrestler on his back. It could have come at a worse time, much like Bo Nickal’s attempt at some funk in the finals against Myles Martin his freshman year, but he’ll have time to rebound before facing Marinelli again.
The Nittany Lions are favored by a lot this weekend, and they have their first legit shot at a shutout on the season, even with the continued absence of returning 157 champ Jason Nolf.
How To Watch
What: #1 Penn State* vs Buffalo
Where: Rec Hall, University Park, PA
When: Sunday, February 18, 2 pm
Audio: Free, Jeff "Ironhead" Byers, via GoPSUSports
|No. 1 Penn State||WT||Buffalo|
|No. 1 Penn State||WT||Buffalo|
|Carson Kuhn (Sr., Sandy, UT) OR Devin Schnupp (Fr., Lititz, PA)||125||Kyle Akins (Jr., Sycamore, IL)|
|Corey Keener (Sr., Schuylkill Haven, PA)||133||#14 - Bryan Lantry (Jr., Walworth, NY) OR Justin Patrick (So., Ligonier, PA)|
|#8 - Nick Lee (Fr., Evansville, IN) OR Jered Cortez (Jr., Carol Stream, IL)||141||Jason Estevez (Sr., Livingston, NJ)|
|#1 - Zain Retherford (Sr., Benton, PA)||149||Nick Palumbo (Fr., Andover, NJ)|
|Bo Pipher (Fr., Paonia, CO) OR Luke Gardner (Fr., Pottsville, PA) OR #1 - Jason Nolf (Jr., Yatesboro, PA)||157||Eric Fasnacht (Fr., Strongsville, OH)|
|#3 - Vincenzo Joseph (So., Pittsburgh, PA)||165||Noah Grover (Fr., Warsaw, NY)|
|#2 - Mark Hall (So., Apple Valley, MN)||174||Christian Dietrich (So., Greene, NY) OR Ryan Kromer (Jr., Youngstown, NY)|
|#1 - Bo Nickal (Jr., Allen, TX)||184||Brett Perry (Jr., East Fishkill, NY)|
|Anthony Cassar (So., Rocky Hill, NJ) OR #5 - Shakur Rasheed (Jr., Coram, NY) OR Matt McCutcheon (Sr., Apollo, PA)||197||Joe Ariola (Sr., Oak Park, IL)|
|#4 - Nick Nevills (Jr., Clovis, CA)||285||#20 - Jake Gunning (Jr., Bethlehem, PA)|
As with much of the season, 125 is the biggest weakness in Penn State’s lineup. After a strong showing against Nathan Tomasello two weeks ago, Kuhn found himself on his back against freshman Spencer Lee in the first period. How he rebounds this week against an NCAA qualifier will go far to show whether he has a shot to make a run at the conference tournament, and potentially enter the field in Cleveland.
Prediction: Kuhn by Decision
Score: PSU 3, Buffalo 0
Buffalo’s got two ranked wrestlers on their roster, with Lantry being a returning MAC runner-up and NCAA qualifier. Maybe it’s full-homer for me to go Keener in this one, as it should be a good, close match, but with Keener in his last dual at Penn State and looking for an opportunity to contribute to the team he transferred to, he’ll pull it all together and pull out the upset.
Prediction: Keener by Decision
Score: PSU 6, Buffalo 0
Nick Lee is likely frustrated after last week’s win, when he dominated but didn’t get any bonus. This should be a good test, and Lee will dominate; it’ll be bonus, but the question will be how many bonus points. I’m betting it’ll go the full seven, with a narrow miss on the tech, winning by 12 or 13.
Prediction: Lee by Major Decision
Score: PSU 10, Buffalo 0
Zain is pissed that he didn’t bonus Sorensen, and this is his last dual at Penn State. Dis gon be gud.
Prediction: Zain by Pin
Score: PSU 16, Buffalo 0
Pipher is facing a fellow redshirt freshman, and though he didn’t win his match against Michael Kemerer last week, he held his own, went the full seven minutes, and didn’t end up on his back. He’s still not the full 157 pounds, but he has the talent and has faced enough talent in the Penn State wrestling room that this could be a good, close win.
Prediction: Pipher by Decision
Score: PSU 19, Buffalo 0
Even the best wrestlers can be countered if they lose focus for a few seconds, and returning champs are no different (just ask Isaiah Martinez) - and it’s better that this happened to Cenzo in the dual meet, not in the tournament. He also seemed lucky not to get pinned, but that’s a testament to his talent and maneuverability; he’ll get Marinelli the next (possibly two) times that they meet. Cenzo, grinning all the time, will come out on fire and won’t get the pin, but the match won’t last for all seven minutes.
Prediction: Cenzo by Tech Fall
Score: PSU 24, Buffalo 0
When Cenzo went down, Hall came up and pinned his Hawkeye opponent at exactly a minute. This week should last a little longer, but with the same result.
Prediction: Hall by Pin
Score: PSU 29, Buffalo 0
Bo will be the fastest pin of the night, yet again. And I’m not sure it will be close.
Prediction: Bo by Pin
Score: PSU 35, Buffalo 0
Rasheed pinned Ariola before he was Penn State’s starter at this weight, a position he should all but have locked up. At home on senior day, why should this day be any different?
Prediction: Sugar by Pin
Score: PSU 41, Buffalo 0
Nick shot up in the rankings after beating then-#3 Sam Stoll last week, and he now sits at number four, where he’ll likely face Kyle Snyder in the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament. Note to self: don’t doubt Nick. He’ll bring the fire, but he’s facing a ranked wrestler so won’t bonus - thought this one won’t be close.
Prediction: Nevills by Decision
Score: PSU 44, Buffalo 0
*Penn State is finally a universal #1, since both Jordans and Kyle Snyder lost at Michigan last week!