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Wrestling Preview: No. 1 Penn State vs Illinois

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The Nittany Lions are on the road for the last time in dual season, taking on the Illini

NCAA Wrestling: Division I Wrestling Championship
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Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Down three starters, the Nittany Lions hosted Michigan State in their penultimate home dual of the season—and still managed to dominate, with three pins, a stall out, a tech fall, and two majors on the night. This team in a sight to behold—even the backups giving up 10+ pounds on the mat won’t let the match be easy.

But here we are, with the final road dual of the season upon us, and some great matches to boot! This isn’t the dominating force at some weights like Illinois has been in the past—to his own relief, IMar has exhausted his eligibility— but this dual features some pretty exciting matchups that may portend what’s to come in March

How To Watch

What: #1 Penn State vs Illinois*

Where: Huff Hall, Champaign, IL

When: Sunday, February 17, 2 pm

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

Video: BTN+

Lineup

No. 1 Penn State WT Illinois
No. 1 Penn State WT Illinois
Devin Schnupp (So., Lititz, PA) 125 #12 - Travis Piotrowski (Jr., Crystal Lake, IL)
#11 - Roman Bravo-Young (Fr., Tucson, AZ) 133 Dylan Duncan (So., Lombard, IL)
#2 - Nick Lee (So., Evansville, IN) 141 #5 - Mike Carr (So., South Fayette, PA)
#11 - Brady Berge (Fr., Mantorville, MN) OR Jerod Verkleeren (Fr., Greensburg, PA) 149 Christian Kanzler (Jr., Fox Lake, IL)
#1 - Jason Nolf (Sr., Yatesboro, PA) 157 #10 - Eric Barone (Jr., Crystal Lake, IL)
#1 - Vincenzo Joseph (Jr., Pittsburgh, PA) 165 Joey Gunther (Jr., Libertyville, IL)
#1 - Mark Hall (Jr., Apple Valley, MN) 174 Carver James (Jr., Rock City, IL)
#2 - Shakur Rasheed (Sr., Coram, NY) 184 #7 - Emery Parker (Sr., Wadsworth, IL)
#1 - Bo Nickal (Sr., Allen, TX) 197 Andre Lee (Sr., Maywood, IL)
#3 - Anthony Cassar (Sr., Rocky Hill, NJ) OR Nick Nevills (Sr., Clovis, CA) 285 Deuce Rachal (Sr., Chicago, IL)

125 LBS

Prediction: Piotrowski by decision

Score: PSU 0, Illinois 3

133 LBS

I originally had this one penned as an RBY win, but now that he sat on Friday, I expect Stossel to travel with the team. He’ll put up a fight, likely having the match come down to the wire, but the benefit of wrestling the entire season will help Duncan prevail.

Prediction: Duncan by decision

Score: PSU 0, Illinois 6

141 LBS - Match of the Meet

I originally threw the Gulibon and Lee for this match—but the more I tired to convince myself to write about Carr winning, the more I simply couldn’t do it. Lee has looked great most of the season, and the win over McKenna was just what he needed to propel him to the offseason. It’ll be close, but Nick’s tightwaist and conditioning will win out

Prediction: Nick by decision

Score: PSU 3, Illinois 6

149 LBS

As the weeks go on, I know i’m not alone in thinking that Verkleeren will be the starter at this weight in the post. And with more than a few hours to prepare, he has the talent and ability to win against almost anyone. He’s gaining confidence and I expect him to win big on the road.

Prediction: Verk by major decision

Score: PSU 7, Illinois 6

157 LBS

I originally picked a tech here. After Friday, i’m changing it to a pin. Because Nolf wants to keep his record over Bo.

Prediction: Nolf by pin

Score: PSU 13, Illinois 6

165 LBS

Prediction: Joseph by major decision

Score: PSU 17, Illinois 6

174 LBS

Hall’s match on Friday was the weirdest thing i’ve seen—a guy with a winning record willingly losing the 6 points to his opponent simply because he doesn’t want to end up on his back? There’s better ways to stall, Hughes, and some might even let you get away with losing by only a tech!

Anyway, Hall’s great and will want to prove he can actually get the six without his opponent’s tactical stupidity.

Prediction: Hall by pin

Score: PSU 23, Illinois 6

184 LBS

If Shakur was going, I think he’d be able to get Parker. But with his knee, I expect we’ll see Manville again, and though he looked pretty darn good on Friday, it won’t be enough. And Parker’s no Martin, so he’ll just get a regular decision.

Prediction: Parker by decision

Score: PSU 23, Illinois 9

197 LBS

Bo just doesn’t like wrestling a full first period. That’s it.

Prediction: Bo by pin

Score: PSU 29, Illinois 9

285 LBS

Cassar is so darn exciting, even giving up close to 50 pounds like he did last night. He’ll make most of the heavies pay, and is really just setting himself up for a showdown with Steveson.

Prediction: Cassar by major decision

Score: PSU 33, Illinois 9


*Illinois is #19 in the Intermat tournament ranking; they are unranked in Intermat’s Dual rankings, and since this is, in point of fact, a dual, we did not rank them.