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Wrestling Preview: No. 1 Penn State vs No. 2 Ohio State

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It’s the showdown of the season (but do duals really matter?)

Retherford-Stieber1
What better photo for this dual meet?

What else can we say about this dual meet that likely hasn’t been said before? This is Penn State’s protected dual in the Big Ten season, and since Cael Sanderson’s third season, the winner of this dual meet has won the National Title - ie, Penn State has won six national titles to Ohio State’s one (during a season that saw Zain Retherford, Jason Nolf, Bo Nickal, Nick Nevills, and Nico Megaludis all redshirt).

This will be a very good dual meet, between squads that swap places atop the polling depending on which service you use. Both teams have multiple national champions on them, once and future Olympians, and a lot of great wrestling will be had this weekend. In Rec Hall, which is a tough place to wrestle (just as Logan Stieber), average officiating not withstanding.

Nolf won’t be wrestling this week after the ref in Piscataway shortened his regular season, and that means this one will be a darn close one, with too many “matches of the meet” to even count. There’s not really a bad matchup on the board, provided Penn State does get the new blood in at 125.

How To Watch

What: #1 Penn State vs #2 Ohio State*

Where: Rec Hall^, University Park, PA

When: Saturday, February 3, 8 pm

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

Video: BTN

Lineup

No. 1 Penn State WT No. 7 Iowa
No. 1 Penn State WT No. 7 Iowa
Carson Kuhn (Sr., Sandy, UT) OR Devin Schnupp (Fr., Lititz, PA) 125 #3 - Spencer Lee (Fr., Murrysville, PA)
Corey Keener (Sr., Schuylkill Haven, PA) 133 Paul Glynn (So., Bettendorf, IA)
#8 - Nick Lee (Fr., Evansville, IN) OR Jered Cortez (Jr., Carol Stream, IL) 141 Vince Turk (So., Elmhurst, IL) OR Carter Happel (Fr., Lisbon, IA)
#1 - Zain Retherford (Sr., Benton, PA) 149 #2 - Brandon Sorenson (Sr., Cedar Rapids, IA)
Bo Pipher (Fr., Paonia, CO) OR Luke Gardner (Fr., Pottsville, PA) OR #1 - Jason Nolf (Jr., Yatesboro, PA) 157 #2 - Michael Kemerer (So., Murrysville, IA)
#1 - Vincenzo Joseph (So., Pittsburgh, PA) 165 #7 - Alex Marinelli (Fr., Miamisburg, OH)
#2 - Mark Hall (So., Apple Valley, MN) 174 Joey Gunther (So., Libertyville, IL) OR Kaleb Young (Fr., Punxsatawney, PA)
#1 - Bo Nickal (Jr., Allen, TX) 184 Mitch Bowman (Jr., Donahue, IA)
#8 - Anthony Cassar (So., Rocky Hill, NJ) OR Shakur Rasheed (Jr., Coram, NY) OR Matt McCutcheon (Sr., Apollo, PA) 197 #7 - Cash Wilcke (So., Battle Creek, IA)
#6 - Nick Nevills (Jr., Clovis, CA) 285 #3 - Sam Stoll (Jr., Kasson, MN)

125 LBS

Devin Schnupp has a ton of fight, but got decked last weekend by Nick Suriano after failing to score against Ethan Lizak. But what’s that I hear? BAH GAWD, THAT’S CARSON KUHN’S MUSIC! Am I sure? No. But I choose to be optimistic. And if the transfer student is good to go, Tomasello will be more limited in his ability to bonus. And that’s what Penn State needs to win.

Prediction: NaTo by Major Decision

Score: PSU 0, OSU 4

133 LBS

These two have faced each other before, in the fall of 2016, when the Buckeye won by one point. Pletcher is better than he was back then - but so is Corey Keener, and even though the transfer is unranked, he’s not without talent and confidence. Pletcher is a legit title contender so should win, but Corey will make it tough for him - let’s hope third period Corey turns up much sooner.

Prediction: Pletcher by Decision

Score: PSU 0, OSU 7

141 LBS

The pulling of Lee’s redshirt was a great decision by Cael Sanderson, and now, by rankings at least, he’s the favorite to win a conference title. Preseason, McKenna, the Stanford transfer, won the right to cut down to 141, so he’ll face a freshman phenom. Unfortunately for McKenna, Lee has a motor, and doesn’t gas. If McKenna wrestles, this could be a good bonus point win for the Lions.

Prediction: Lee by Major Decision

Score: PSU 4, OSU 7

149 LBS

Zain has never lost a dual meet.

He is facing a wrestler that will do his best Jake Ryan in 2016 impression, which is why this likely won’t be a fall.

Prediction: Zain by Tech Fall

Score: PSU 9, OSU 7

157 LBS

Nolf would beat Micah, and it wouldn’t be close (and I doubt they’ll meet in the postseason, as I’m expecting Nolf to forfeit out of the Big Tens, and Jordan to lose before facing Nolf in Cleveland). Nolf’s backups, though (the not-redshirting ones), won’t fare so well.

Prediction: Jordan by Major Decision

Score: PSU 9, OSU 11

165 LBS

Cenzo beat Campbell in last year’s Keystone Classic, when the now-Buckeye was wrestling for Pitt and lost a pretty one-sided decision to the eventual national champ. Campbell was the ACC champ at this weight last year, and he’s having an arguably better season this year - but he’s up against Cenzo. Campbell doesn’t really lose by bonus (unless he’s getting disqualified against inferior competition), so I expect this one to look, on paper, closer than it feels; Cenzo’s feeling it this year, and is supremely confident. Look for a five or six point win.

Prediction: Cenzo by Decision

Score: PSU 12, OSU 11

174 LBS

This matchup was split last year, with Hall losing in sudden victory in the finals of the Big Ten tournament after BoJo sat during the dual meet, and getting the better of the Buckeye in the NCAA finals on what was determined by some to be controversial takedown officiating. This one should be very good, and close, with Hall coming out to a hot start and a lead, and Jordan trying to climb his way back in. I expect Hall to garner a stall warning (or maybe give up a point) in the third as he holds on to the win.

Prediction: Hall by Decision

Score: PSU 15, OSU 11

184 LBS

Martin is one of two wrestlers to beat Bo as an attached wrestler, and the only one to do it multiple times. He’s having a better junior campaign than sophomore year, but he’s also never beaten Nickal in the regular season. This won’t be the year that will happen (though watch out in a few weeks).

Prediction: Bo by Decision

Score: PSU 18, OSU 11

197 LBS

Kollin Moore came out of practically nowhere last year, bursting on the scene as one of the most exciting upper weights in a while and only really faltering against the top two guys at that weight, Brett Pfarr and national champ J’Den Cox. With those two graduating, this weight was marked to be Moore’s to lose, and he’s lived up to those expectations so far, scoring bonus on bonus. He’ll face the surprise of Penn State’s season in Shakur Rasheed, whose cross-face cradle likely won’t work too well against Moore. But ‘Sheed is a much better wrestler this year, with a much-improved gas tank, and this one should go the distance (side note: they have three common opponents, and ‘Sheed pinned them all in under a minute. wow.).

Prediction: Moore by Decision

Score: PSU 18, OSU 14

285 LBS

Kyle Snyder is the best wrestler in the world. He will win this match. The question is, how many points will he win by? Last year, Nevills proved he was no match and got bonused. Only Adam Coon is likely to stay within a few points of the Olympic champ; Nevills should be able to easily stay off his back, though, and keep the damage minimal (comparatively).

Prediction: Snyder by Major Decision

Score: PSU 18, OSU 18

Yes, that’s right. No, it wasn’t intentional. I think it’ll come down to criteria, and likely decided by backpoints, not takedowns. And I fear that that’ll go in the Buckeyes’ favor (if Rutgers wasn’t such an abomination, this wouldn’t have been close).


*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, and Ohio State is #1. 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.

^Not how Tom Ryan would have done it.