It’s the last dual for many in this stellar senior class (more on that later on), but it’s still a dual meet that affords the Nittany Lions the opportunity to fine tune their skills for the post season, and extend their program-record winning streak.
Penn State has wrestled Buffalo a number of times in recent years, and this is probably the most talented Bull squad they’ve faced (with two ranked grapplers, and an overall 11-4 dual record this season) - more than enough to make sure last year’s 55-0 beatdown won’t be replicated this season. That is, if Buffalo wrestles their ranked wrestlers; last year, two Bulls sat out of the match (125er Akin didn’t even travel with the squad).
If that happens this weekend, the score might be similar; but with how key matchups have so often not come to fruition this year, I truly hope that isn’t the case. While the matches of those in PSU’s murderer’s row of 157 to 285 likely won’t be as competitive as Buffalo’d hope (save, perhaps, Shakur Rasheed’s return to the lineup at 184), they have opportunities at some of the lower weights.
Will they be able to take advantage of some of those opportunities? We’ll see on Sunday.
How To Watch
What: #1 Penn State vs Buffalo
Where: Rec Hall, University Park, PA
When: Sunday, February 24, 2 pm
Audio: Free, Jeff “Ironhead” Byers, via GoPSUSports
Video: BTN+/FloWrestling (subscription only)
|#1 Penn State||WT||Buffalo|
|#1 Penn State||WT||Buffalo|
|Devin Schnupp (So., Lititz, PA)||125||Kyle Akins (Sr., Sycamore, IL)|
|#11 - Roman Bravo-Young (Fr., Tucson, AZ)||133||Derek Spann (So., Boonville, NY)|
|#2 - Nick Lee (So., Evansville, IN)||141||#15 - Bryan Lantry (Sr., Walworth, NY)|
|#11 - Brady Berge (Fr., Mantorville, MN) OR Jerod Verkleeren (Fr., Greensburg, PA)||149||Jason Estevez (Sr., Livingston, NJ)|
|#1 - Jason Nolf (Sr., Yatesboro, PA)||157||Alex Smythe (Sr., Eden, NY)|
|#1 - Vincenzo Joseph (Jr., Pittsburgh, PA)||165||Troy Keller (Jr., North Tonawanda, NY)|
|#1 - Mark Hall (Jr., Apple Valley, MN)||174||Jake Lanning (Fr., Pontiac, IL)|
|#2 - Shakur Rasheed (Sr., Coram, NY)||184||Logan Rill (So., Hampstead, MD)|
|#1 - Bo Nickal (Sr., Allen, TX)||197||Brett Perry (Sr., East Fishkill, NY)|
|#3 - Anthony Cassar (Sr., Rocky Hill, NJ) OR Nick Nevills (Sr., Clovis, CA)||285||#15 - Jake Gunning (Sr., Bethlehem, PA)|
I truly believe that Schnupp can win this match. Akin was wrestling better at this point last season, and Schnupp, aside from last week’s fall, has been much improved this year, and he could easily end this dual season (perhaps his last in the starting lineup) on a high note. I’ll go pessimistic this time, and we’ll see what happens.
Prediction: Akins by decision
Score: PSU 0, Buffalo 3
Bravo-Young sat out last week for personal reasons, but he should be in fine form this week, if his dual over OSU’s Luke Pletcher (who lost again on Friday, this time to a Cornell wrestler ranked lower than RBY) is any indicator. As Buffalo’s sophomore starter this season, Spann is much better this year, albeit against less than very challenging competition. RBY should make this look easy, but barely won’t score bonus.
Prediction: RBY by decision
Score: PSU 3, Buffalo 3
Lee’s wrestling so good right now that I’d be tempted to pick more bonus here. But Lantry has been very good in his shortened season this year, so I expect it to go the full seven - with Nick getting a major late, and with significant riding time. Side note, since this is Yianni’s weight to lose this year, I really hope that the Big Ten seeds in two weeks are Lee, McKenna, Carr...and that Nick is either 2 or three at the NCAAs. It can happen - he’s good enough to make sure of that.
Prediction: Lee by major decision
Score: PSU 7, Buffalo 3
Brady (“Charlie”) Berge made his return to the lineup last week, and looked in top form with no gas tank issues. This week he’ll build on that, and narrowly miss a tech in a very impressive showing.
Prediction: Berge by major decision
Score: PSU 11, Buffalo 3
Jason Nolf, next question.
Prediction: Nolf by pin
Score: PSU 17, Buffalo 3
Cenzo looked somewhat unimpressive (for Cenzo, at least) earlier in the season. But was that real, or just a product of the PSU team intentionally putting themselves in uncomfortable situations so that they can learn and become better wrestlers? These last few weeks make me think that may be the case. Anyone who doesn’t believe in Joseph is not someone I want to be around.
Prediction: Joseph by major decision
Score: PSU 21, Buffalo 3
See above. Hall’s ride has become a thing of beauty this year, so much so that we all almost forgot how great his offense can be. Marky won’t let us forget this week, or next in the conference tournament.
Prediction: Hall by pin
Score: PSU 27, Buffalo 3
Rasheed will finally be back in the lineup after weeks out with a knee injury - and it’ll be very interesting to see if he lives up to that lofty #2 ranking. I think he’ll look rusty and may gas a little late, but will win decisively - a good harbinger for the weeks to come.
Prediction: Shak by major decision
Score: PSU 31, Buffalo 3
Last Friday, I was in a car driving up to Vermont for the long weekend. Texting my mom during the dual, as one does, when Bo was stepping up to the mat, she asked me the o/u on Bo’s match, setting it at 3 min (this came after we were both almost spot on on Nolf’s lasting around 4 minutes).
I got her text at the same time Jeff Byers said “and there goes Nickal!” and replied Under, lol. When in doubt, predict a Bo pin in under 2 minutes. Let’s do that here again.
Prediction: Bo by pin
Score: PSU 37, Buffalo 3
Last Sunday, Anthony Cassar had his teammate’s back; when Bo didn’t get the pin call after having his opponent on his back a number of times before getting a tech, instead of a pin, call, Cassar made sure there was no doubt and pinned his opponent in the first period. This week, he’ll get a couple good looks but will make it very close to a tech without getting the extra bonus.
Prediction: Cassar by major decision