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Big Ten Wrestling Tournament Preview: The Upper Weights

The previews for the tournament of the best conference in NCAA wrestling continues, with 165 through heavyweight - and an abundance of Penn State talent.

2016 U.S. Olympic Team Wrestling Trials - Day 2 Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

It’s the remix to the preview, back-half of lineup in review. Nittany Lions and Buckeyes please do scroll down and read through.

We are back for part deux of trois of our B1G Wrestling Tournament preview and today we break down weights 165-285.

The Nittany Lions carry serious title threats at four of the five weights and will be favored in at least three, if not all four of those.

We start with 165 where Vincenzo Joseph will attempt to avenge his lone loss of the season en route to his first B1G title.

At 174, Mark Hall heads a field that also feature’s long-time OSU nemesis Bo Jordan and Mark Hall-Lite (TM) Myles Amine.

Bo Nickal is the favorite at 184 and will likely continue his rivalry with Myles Martin.

Then we have 197 pounds, where rightful top-seed Sugar Shakur Rasheed will try to prove to the seeding committee that they got it wrong when he works his way through a bracket headed up by Ohio State’s Kollin Moore.

At 285 we’ll likely get King Kong vs. Godzilla round three as Kyle Snyder and Adam Coon lead the way, while our guy Nick Nevills will attempt to wrestle to seed and secure what should be a top-four seed in Cleveland.

If you’ve yet to read through the first third of our preview, or if you’d like a refresher, you can check that out right this way.CS

How To Watch

What: The Big Ten Wrestling Tournament

Where: Breslin Center, East Lansing, MI

When: 10 a.m. Saturday, March 3: Session 1: R1 / Championship Qtrs / Consi R16

6 p.m. Saturday, March 3: Session 2: Champ Semis / Consi R12 / Consi Qtrs

12 p.m. Sunday, March 4: Session 3: Consi Semis / 3rd / 5th / 7th Place

3 p.m. Sunday March 4: Session 4: Championship Finals

Audio: Free, Jeff “Ironhead” Byers; all sessions free via GoPSUsports

Video: BTN+ ($$) for Sessions 1/2/3; Free Big Ten Network for Session 4

LiveBlog: BSD, for all sessions, pbp scorekeeper volunteers welcome & deeply appreciated.


Nationals Automatic Qualifier Spots: 10

Bracket Spots Seeded: All 14

Bracket Placements Randomly Selected: 0

Minimum Number of Wins to Qualify for Nationals: 2

Pick to win

Bscaff: Isaiah Martinez, Illinois.

Cari: IMar. The national title winner has only been beaten twice in college, pins by Penn State freshmen. The two times after Nolf pinned him, IMar beat the then-freshman; Cenzo hasn’t faced the senior since then. Revenge is a thing here.

Clay: IMar.

JP: Vincenzo Joseph, Penn State University. Somebody’s gotta rep the blue & white!

Our guy: Vincenzo Joseph (pre-seeded 3)

Vincenzo Joseph calmly (because that’s his thing—calm) trots out to Major Te’Shan Campbell, February 3, 2018.
Richard Immel, USA Wrestling

Bscaff: Caught twice in the last two matches, Cenzo tightens up his game and makes the subtle adjustments. But daggone, this bracket is tougher than NCAAs. Just get thru it healthy, and I’m happy.

Cari: Cenzo was in charge of Marinelli before giving up a six point move, and couldn’t recover to win it. The coaches will work with him on this, and he won’t be quite so quick to go with the inside trip when these two meet in the semis - and as such, Cenzo will cruise and face IMar in the finals, with a better seed on the line at the NCAA tournament (though a fourth-place finish didn’t stop him last year)

Clay: Cenzo is FINE (Read in “Bullet Club is Fine” voice for the 2 of you that will get this reference). Our little meatball benefits from the seeding being messed up and The Bull getting pushed down to two. I think Cenzo reached the semis pretty easily and atones for his loss to Marinelli to advance to the finals. I’ll give IMar the slight edge here, but it really is slight and I think people nationally are a bit too sure of Martinez being a lock here. Also, Cenzo getting a 1st-round match will be huge for A) his confidence and B) team points.

JP: Dag, these bros & phines are nailing it. What to add, what to add. Oh, Cenzo’s gonna beat IMar again!

Sleeper Pick

Bscaff: 9-seed Te’Shan Campbell’s (OSU) only win comes via BYE in consolation round 1.

Cari: Alex Marinelli, Iowa. Can an undefeated wrestler be a sleeper pick? If he has to defeat two NCAA champs to simply win his conference title, yes. The freshman has the talent to go the distance here, but his draw is tough - I could see a number of guys who could beat him, or he could bonus.

Clay: Logan Massa, Michigan. I mean, this was almost too easy. Everybody knows how good Massa is when healthy. Nobody knows how healthy he’ll be, but the time off can’t hurt and he could seriously turn the tournament on its head if he’s back to 100 percent. Marinelli gets screwed here by dropping to the 2 and having to face Massa in the quarters.

JP: Chance Marsteller. Shoot, that’s for the next tourney. Isaiah White, then.


Nationals Automatic Qualifier Spots: 7

Bracket Spots Seeded: 1-8

Bracket Placements Randomly Selected: 6

Minimum Number of Wins to Qualify for Nationals: 3

Pick to win

Bscaff: Mark Hall, Penn State.

Cari: Hall. He’s looked so smooth and confident all year. Can’t wait for his rematch with Zahid in March - if only heavyweight wasn’t so hyped so it would be the final on Saturday night.

Clay: Hall.

JP: Mark Hall, Technical Wrestling Guru.

Our guy: Mark Hall (pre-seeded 1)

Mark Hall celebrates riding out grown man beast Bo Jordan and securing his second career win over the Buckeye, February 3, 2018.
Richard Immel, USA Wrestling

Bscaff: Mark bonsues everyone on his side of the bracket, and comes up clutch - again - in the final.

Cari: He’s a defending national title winner, and has blown through his dual meet schedule with bonus on bonus on bonus. No, not Zain or Bo or Nolf; it’s the Minnesota native whose shirt was pulled controversially last year before he controversially won a national title. This year there’s no controversy; he’s on another level, and there’s no one in the conference at least that should be able to challenge him.

Clay: Marky really gets the full advantage of this being a 3-man field. Should role into the finals against Amine or BoJo

JP: Hardly a chink in his armor this year. Dude is wrestling really, really well. I’m taking my cues from the top-shelf opponents who have been trying to solve him. Bo Jordan didn’t take an offensive shot; why is that?

Sleeper Pick

Bscaff: 6-seed Devin Skatzka (Indiana) takes 4th or 5th? (Not a lot to pick from here.)

Cari: Myles Amine (Michigan), I guess? He wrestled Hall pretty darn close, and though BoJo was within a takedown of Mark, that match never really felt in doubt. I’m betting Amine beats the Buckeye again before Mark takes care of him by even more than earlier in the season.

Clay: Joey Gunther, Iowa. Gunther earned his way into the tournament by the skin of his teeth via a tiebreaker win in a wrestle-off over PA boy Kaleb Young. I expect the Brands’ to have their guy ready to compete and wouldn’t be shocked if he gives BoJo a tough fight in the quarters before outperforming his seed on the back side.

JP: Amine. Them Michigan boys are gonna be fun to watch in Michigan this weekend.


Nationals Automatic Qualifier Spots: 8

Bracket Spots Seeded: 1-8

Bracket Placements Randomly Selected: 6

Minimum Number of Wins to Qualify for Nationals: 3

Pick to win

Bscaff: Bo Nickal, Penn State.

Cari: Bo.

Clay: Bo.

JP: Bo Nickal, Penn State University.

Our guy: Bo Nickal (pre-seeded 1)

Scaff called for a lefty high c, so Bo delivers a lefty high c, February 3, 2018.
Richard Immel, USA Wrestling

Bscaff: I agree with Bo - he’s better in every position. And if he’s scoring with his lefty high c, ain’t nobody beating him.

Cari: I wish he could wrestle with the full beard. And he’ll be the wrestler with the least time on the mat in the entire tournament.

Clay: Bo should walk into the finals pretty easily. Parker is an extremely athletic guy as the 4-seed, but unfortunately the things he does well, Bo does exceptionally. From that point on it’s a matter of who he meets in the finals, but I’d expect it to be Myles for the second of three meetings this season.

JP: Is it weird that in Nickal - MyMar VIII the matchup is still becoming more compelling? Bo’s right, but Martin is still totally capable of beating him. He’s the undisputed #2 in the country. He’s got amazing hips of his own and can scramble for days. He can also, probably, still blast a double and take Nickal to his butt. Problem is, Nickal can still pin him from there, and Martin wrestled the dual like he knows it. Nickal’s a matchup nightmare, for all kinds of styles, so Martin’s got no chance if he can’t get out of his own head. But if he can go 100 fire emoji in the confidence department, this eighth time could be a three-peat charm. Or something. Bo’s 5-2 in the series, so a new Martin win would be the three-peat, although it’s pretty much lost its charm by now. Moving on...

Sleeper Pick

Bscaff: I trust no one in this bracket, apart from Bo and Myles (Martin, OSU).

Cari: Martin, I guess. He’s the only one who seems to have had Bo’s number in previous tournaments, but after Bo majored him at the dual to give Penn State the win, even though Myles has looked ten times better this year than much of the last two seasons, the defending national champ is on another level. Heart you, Bo.

Clay: Taylor Venz, Nebraska. Red, Berger, and now Venz. Am I a closet #GBR fan? The rsFR is 20-5 on the year with all five losses coming to top-10 opponents. He holds three ranked wins including one of returning AA Drew Foster and another over VaTech hammer Zack Zavatsky. Venz lost 9-5 to Abounader the last time out, but expect their potential quarterfinal match to be a barn burner.

JP: I think I’m with Clay on these Nebby bros and will go with Venz also. He looked amazing in a great battle in the dual vs Parker, albeit a loss. I’m not touching Berger, but I went with Renteria & Red. Is it because the Huskers cycled off the PSU schedule this year? Like, familiarity breeds contempt, but unfamiliarity breeds mildly intrigued curiosity? In any event, it will be great to see Mark Manning’s screaming red face again, and to peep some of these new young studs he’s unleashed this year.


Nationals Automatic Qualifier Spots: 6

Bracket Spots Seeded: 1-8

Bracket Placements Randomly Selected: 6

Minimum Number of Wins to Qualify for Nationals: 3

Pick to win

Bscaff: Kollin Moore, Ohio State.

Cari: Sugar ‘Sheed, Penn State. Sure, he could lose to Kollin Moore, who could finally decide to wrestle like everyone knows he can. But the odds aren’t likely, based on his body of work this season.

Clay: Shakur Rasheed.

JP: I want to think Kollin Moore’s gonna rise up when it counts again, but that’s been the problem for wrestling fans this year: Moore’s performances on the mat haven’t synced up with projections most people brought forward into 2018, from his 2017 B1G Championship and NCAA 3rd-Place finish. He’s looked erratic in neutral; could confidence be a legit problem? I’m not sure how, but his head moves looked wild against Cassar and Macchiavello and a lot of his shots looked to lack the unbridled aggression and finish of late last year. Meanwhile, Shakur Rasheed has looked like a winner.

Our guy: Shakur Rasheed (pre-seeded 2)

(Sorry we don’t have a dope Richard Immel pic to insert here for Rasheed, because of the ankle injury he sustained in beating Anthony Cassar in a wrestle-off before the Ohio State dual. Immel was kind enough to grant permission to use his great photos and he does have a bunch of dope pics of Cassar, but that wouldn’t be fair to Rasheed to post them here, in the spot Rasheed earned. So click on over to Immel’s full gallery and take them in one by one).

Bscaff: I like Shak over everyone on his half of the bracket, but I’m a little nervous about his leg defense vs Moore. This is probably a dumb thought, but there you go.

Cari: Is the Penn State wrestling room at this weight tougher than most of the field at 197? Maybe. And the undersized former 165-er came, saw, and conquered, and is the second seed here. He’s on the NCAA’s most dominant list for a reason, and is sure as heck exciting to watch. Expect it to be two for two with PSU wrestlers over Ohio State’s one-time #1 guy.

Clay: I’m not all the way out on Kollin Moore the way some are, that’d be silly. But I can’t remember the last time I saw him actually set up a shot. Shak’s head movement and level changes are maybe the best at the weight class (an advantage of being a smaller guy for the weight), I’d expect him to reach the finals fairly easily and once he’s there I think he’ll keep Moore off balance with his feints and movement. (Oh, and wrestling Anthony Cassar, who might be a better version of Moore, can’t hurt Shakur either)

JP: Rasheed’s crazy long arms and the escalating nastiness of his cross-face cradle have opponents wary, if not outright shook. Team Wrestling has really elevated his danger levels. It’s gotta be him. After the Purdue dual on January 19 (a 1:42 pin of Kobe Woods), Rasheed got on the mic with Jeff Byers and had this to say:

It’s been fun. Everyday I come out and fans be like “when are you gettin out there” and I’m like “soon.” Now I’m out there, and I’m healthy. I’m feeling good, but I’m just tryin to get better by Big Tens. It’s cool, but when Big Tens come out, I’m gonna be a whole lot of animal.


Sleeper Pick

Bscaff: Christian Brunner (Purdue) over Cash Wilcke (Iowa) in the 3 vs 6 quarterfinal.

Cari: Wilcke was flat-out dominated by Sheed in February, and the fourth seed, Michigan’s Kevin Beazley, was too. This weight is pretty weak for the Big Ten, but maybe Beazley can make a run--if Moore looks lethargic like he can at times, Beazley could take advantage. Maybe.

Clay: I, too, am team Brunner. Cash Wilcke has no real weaknesses in his game, but he really doesn’t do anything particularly well. I think that inability to open things up could cost him in the QF.

JP: Wilcke. It looked in the dual like he was a little too wary, but he’ll wrestle better in a tournament setting, when he doesn’t have to follow Bo Nickal.


Nationals Automatic Qualifier Spots: 7

Bracket Spots Seeded: 1-8

Bracket Placements Randomly Selected: 6

Minimum Number of Wins to Qualify for Nationals: 3

Pick to win

Bscaff: Kyle Snyder, Ohio State.

Cari: Snyder.

Clay: Snyder.

JP: Adam Coon. Remember how shocked we were in 2016 when Snyder man-lifted that tree trunk of a Coon leg? Coon was too. But he’s not anymore.

Our guy: Nick Nevills (pre-seeded 3)

Nick Nevills does his best Michael Jordan as he heads out to face Captain America Kyle Snyder, February 3, 2018.
Richard Immel, USA Wrestling

Bscaff: Nick Nevills has the best offense - even when he’s not using it - of all the guys in this field not named Snyder or Coon.

Cari: Nick has been worlds better the second half of this season (really, the whole year save the Southern Scuffle), but unfortunately, he’s in a weight and a conference with one of the best wrestlers in the world, and an Olympic champ. Poor Nick. Third will be good for him, and it’s what’s expected. If he can keep Snyder to a decision again in the semis, I’ll count that as a win. Morally.

Clay: Nick Nevills earned himself the 3-seed (as I told y’all he would) with big wins over Hemida and Stoll. Boy is that important as instead of having to face one of those two in the quarters he gets Jennings of NW. Nick should roll into the semis before hitting cap’n America. From that point on, it’s just a matter of making sure he gets into the 3rd-place match and can win it, which would give him a really solid seed in Cleveland. I would have Nevills as the 4-seed if he takes third, with Snyder, Coon and likely ACC Champ Jacob Kasper as the 1-3.

JP: I like these takes above. You should too.

Sleeper Pick

Bscaff: Youssif Hemida (Maryland) over Sam Stoll (Iowa) in the 5 vs 4 quarterfinal. Unless Youssif stands around for the first period, in which case you can forget I made this pick.

Cari: No one. It’s either Coon or Snyder, and neither would be a surprise, and neither will be challenged before the final.

Clay: Kind of hard to pick a sleeper in a 5-man field, but 3-5 could be jumbled up in any which way.

JP: Kyle Snyder. He’s got a lot to prove against Coon after the neutral futility in that last bout with him. Note to Dan Vest: see, now this is fishin!

Make sure you check out our lower weight preview, and come back tomorrow for some general takery!