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Wrestling Preview: No. 1 Penn State vs Northwestern

After some weeks away in Chatanooga and on break, the duals are back as the Lions visit Chicago!

NCAA Wrestling: Big Ten Wrestling Championship Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a few years and one transfer since Northwestern’s had a high profile wrestler ranked #1 (the last one, I believe, was Jason Tsirtsis), and now they have a somewhat surprising one in Sebastian Rivera. Rivera was the first Wildcat to make the podium in March since 2015 - and last week he took out return national champ Spencer Lee. That should be a great rivalry we’ll see for years to come, since Suriano bumped up; I’m talking about that rivalry, of course, because that’ll be the lone bright spot in this dual meet for Northwestern.

The Lions haven’t lost to NU in a dual format in the last thirteen tries, and with the firepower they bring to this match, it’s not likely that Cael’s squad will be upset this week. The win streak keeps building, and we keep watching, wondering what theatrics we’ll see this week. I expect a lot of firepower, and fun matches - for the PSU folks, at least.

How To Watch

What: #1 Penn State vs Northwestern*

Where: Welsh-Ryan Arena, Evanston, IL

When: Friday, January 11, 8 pm

Audio: Free, Jeff “Ironhead” Byers, via GoPSUSports

Video: BTN+ ($$)


No. 1 Penn State WT Northwestern
No. 1 Penn State WT Northwestern
Devin Schnupp (So., Lititz, PA) 125 #1 - Sebastian Rivera (So., Jackson, NJ)
#14 - Roman Bravo-Young (Fr., Tucson, AZ) 133 Colin Valdiviez (So., Lee's Summit, MO)
#4 - Nick Lee (So., Evansville, IN) 141 Yahya Thomas (Fr., Chicago, IL)
#9 - Brady Berge (Fr., Mantorville, MN) OR Jerod Verkleeren (Fr., Greensburg, PA) 149 Shayne Oster (Jr., Homer Glen, IL)
#1 - Jason Nolf (Sr., Yatesboro, PA) 157 #3 - Ryan Deakin (So., Broomfield, CO)
#1 - Vincenzo Joseph (Jr., Pittsburgh, PA) 165 Tyler Moreland (Fr., Brighton, MI) OR Eric Yang (So., Fremont, CA)
#1 - Mark Hall (Jr., Apple Valley, MN) 174 Austyn Harris (Sr., Broomfield, CO)
#3 - Shakur Rasheed (Sr., Coram, NY) 184 Brendan Devine (Fr., West Chester, PA)
#1 - Bo Nickal (Sr., Allen, TX) 197 Zack Chakonis (Jr., Washington Township, NJ)
#4 - Anthony Cassar (Sr., Rocky Hill, NJ) OR Nick Nevills (Sr., Clovis, CA) 285 #19 - Conan Jennings (Sr., Centerville, OH)

125 LBS

Prediction: Rivera by tech fall

Score: PSU 0, Northwestern 5

133 LBS

I may be alone in the PSU wrestling verse in that I’m actually pretty ok with RBY losing at the Scuffle. I’d rather he get it there and learn his own weaknesses and counteract them now prior to when they might actually matter more, in March: I’m pretty sure that his upcoming matches against Micic and Pletcher won’t really tell us much about RBY. But he’ll get better, and show it here.

Prediction: RBY by major decision

Score: PSU 4, Northwestern 5

141 LBS

Lee has made the biggest jump from last year to this of all PSU wrestlers - not surprising in the gap between freshman and sophomore. He’ll continue that this year, and should make the podium again - and probably even a premier Friday night match in Pittsburgh.

Prediction: Lee by major decision

Score: PSU 8, Northwestern 5

149 LBS

Berge’s another one with a loss at the Scuffle who’ll learn from it, as it’s pretty clear that he’s the option prospectively at Zain’s old weight. I expect we’ll look back at this evening’s win as one of the more surprising of Berge’s freshman campaign - but he’ll win nonetheless.

Prediction: Berge by decision

Score: PSU 11, Northwestern 5

157 LBS

Nolf gets his biggest test of the year this weekend! Will it mean much? Not really. As his teammate Bo Pipher can attest to.

Prediction: Nolf by major

Score: PSU 15, Northwestern 5

165 LBS

Prediction: Cenzo by pin

Score: PSU 21, Northwestern 5

174 LBS

These two have met twice before in college, with Hall winning both; in the dual meet last year, he teched Sebastian, but the Wildcat kept it much closer at the Big Ten tournament. I think Hall builds upon his last amazing dual win, where he dominated then No. 1 Zahid Valencia, and makes Sebastian wish it was last March again.

Prediction: Hall by pin

Score: PSU 27, Northwestern 5

184 LBS

I was originally loathe to pick a third pin in a row (and four out of four)...but then I saw Devine’s record this year. The NU freshman is 0-10 on the season, which means this might be the quickest of all of the matches this evening.

Prediction: Rasheed by pin

Score: PSU 33, Northwestern 5

197 LBS

...I lied. Bo will be the quickest pin this evening (they have five common opponents, and Bo’s pinned them all).

Prediction: Bo by pin

Score: PSU 39, Northwestern 5


I try to do a match of the meet each week, even if none jumps out at me. There are two matches this evening that pit two ranked wrestlers against each other - and the other one is Jason Nolf, so ain’t no way he’s close to losing. Which brings up Cassar, who’s had a virtually seamless transition to bump up to HWT. I think his loss in the finals of the Southern Scuffle will be good for him in the long term, allowing him to figure out how to counter moves like White made two weekends ago. He’ll have a bit of rust but shakes it off pretty quickly.

Prediction: Cassar by decision

Score: PSU 42, Northwestern 5

*Northwestern is #11 in the Intermat tournament ranking; they are unranked in Intermat’s Dual rankings, and since this is, in point of fact, a dual, I used that.