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What if Penn State Wrestled Iowa This Year?

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Thanks to the Delaneybot’s Big Ten schedule, Penn State missed wrestling Iowa this year, so BSD hung out with Iowa wrestling blogger RossWB, to carve up what might have happened if they had.

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

When Rutgers and Maryland joined the Big Ten Conference in mid-2014, Conference Commissioner The Delaneybot9000 rolled out a wild, rotating 9-dual wrestling schedule that assured that Iowa, one of the conference’s premier wrestling programs, would skip wrestling two of the other premier programs, Penn State and Ohio State, every third year.

This being one of those years, and with one of this D1 season’s running narratives being the missed opportunities for high-profile matchups, we teamed up with old bloggo bro, RossWB of the great Iowa blog Go Iowa Awesome, to chat it up and break down a hypothetical dual meet between the Hawks & Lions.

You can see Part I of our conversation at Go Iowa Awesome here. Maybe go read that first, then pop back over here?

In the meantime, following is a quick refresher on the Delaneybot’s schedule arrangement and impacts.

Delaneybot 14-team Conference Wrestling Schedule Model

  • Each team wrestles 9 duals per year
  • Each team skips 4 teams every year
  • 14 teams are split into rivalry pairs
  • Each team wrestles its rivalry partner every year
  • Other 12 teams come and go in pairs, and pairs are synced along Home/Away lines
  • Results in wrestling each of 12 teams every 2 out of 3 years, along with missing two pairs of two teams every third year. Got it?

Rivalry Pairs

  • Iowa / Minnesota
  • Penn State / Ohio State
  • Michigan / Michigan State
  • Nebraska / Wisconsin
  • Illinois / Northwestern
  • Indiana / Purdue
  • Rutgers / Maryland

Recent Schedule Examples

Iowa, 2019:

  • Skipped: PSU/tOSU & Mich/MSU
  • Home: Indy/Pur & Rut/MD
  • Away: Minny & Ill/NW & Nebby/Wiscy

PSU 2019:

  • Skipped: Iowa/Minny & Rut/MD
  • Home: Nebby/Wiscy & Mich/MSU
  • Away: tOSU & Indy/Pur & Ill/NW

PSU 2018:

  • Skipped: Ill/NW & Nebby/Wiscy
  • Home: tOSU & Iowa/Minny & Indy/Pur
  • Away: Rut/MD & Mich/MSU

PSU 2017:

  • Skipped: Indy/Pur & Mich/MSU
  • Home: Rut/MD & Ill/NW
  • Away: tOSU & Iowa/Minny & Nebby/Wiscy

PSU 2016

  • Skipped: Iowa/Minny & Rut/MD
  • Home: tOSU & Nebby/Wiscy & Mich/MSU
  • Away: Indy/Pur & Ill/NW

PSU 2015

  • Skipped: Ill/NW & Nebby/Wiscy
  • Home: Iowa/Minny & Indy/Pur
  • Away: tOSU & Rut/MD & Mich/MSU

Rutgers and Maryland joined in 2014, after the 2013/14 schedule was finalized, and the 9-Dual Rotation began in 2014/2015 season. That change made it much more difficult for Cael Sanderson and Tom Brands to schedule each other on their own, in a “non-conference” dual, like they famously arranged for on Twitter, for the 2014 season.

PSU 2013/2014 (12 teams, 11 opponents, 8 Delaney-Scheduled conference duals)

  • Skipped by Delaney: Wiscy & Iowa
  • Home: tOSU & Ill/NW & Pur
  • Away: Minny & Mich/MSU & Indy
  • Non-con Cael-Brands-scheduled, Away: Iowa

Ok, so that’s out of the way.

2019 Hypothetical Iowa vs Penn State Dual

  • 125: Spencer Lee vs Devin Schnupp
  • 133: Austin DeSanto vs Roman Bravo-Young
  • 141: Max Murin/Vince Turk vs Nick Lee
  • 149: Pat Lugo vs Brady Berge/Jarod Verkleeren
  • 157: Kaleb Young vs Jason Nolf
  • 165: Alex Marinelli vs Vincenzo Joseph
  • 174: Mitch Bowman vs Mark Hall
  • 184: Cash Wilcke vs Shakur Rasheed
  • 197: Jacob Warner vs Bo Nickal
  • 285: Sam Stoll vs Anthony Cassar

Have you read Part I, weights 125 - 157, at Go Iowa Awesome yet?

Ross has it scored at this point as Iowa, 12-7; I have it Iowa, 12-8.

165 Vincenzo Joseph vs Alex Marinelli

Sam Janicki, SJanickiPhoto.com
Sam Janicki, SJanickiPhoto.com

RB: Lugo-Berge is under the radar good, but Marinelli-Cenzo has to be the hands down most interesting match of the dual. You’ve got #1 vs #2, two guys who are undefeated all season, and two guys who don’t back down from a challenge.

Cenzo is the established stud, a two-time NCAA defending champion, while Marinelli is the brash young buck who seems to have leveled up this season and who has been mowing through the competition (well, mostly). Marinelli also has a win over Cenzo in their one and only career meeting so far, a thrilling 9-6 upset in the Iowa-Penn State dual this year. We sadly never got a rematch in the Big Ten or NCAA Tournament last year; hopefully that same fate doesn’t befall us this year, too.

The big question I have for this match is: can Marinelli get to Cenzo’s legs and finish? He scored off an inside trip last year, but I don’t know if that will be a sustainable source of offense for him versus Cenzo; he’s going to need to be able to get to the legs and finish if he really wants to repeat his success. I think the match will be tight, but ultimately I can’t pick against Marinelli, not with the way he’s been wrestling this year. He looks like a man on a mission and I think he’s able to grind out a close win over Cenzo.

RB: IOWA 15-7

Jp: Last Year Cenzo against This Year Marinelli, I’d go with the Bull (acknowledging the obvious that Last Year Marinelli did already do that). But, man, both guys have gotten soo much better this year, haven’t they? Cenzo was strongly tested by both Isaiah White & Logan Massa, but stayed solid and patient and never really looked in danger, despite tight final scores. And Marinelli’s win over Evan Wick was a masterpiece. Maybe that’s where Lugo got his patience from?

While I wouldn’t be surprised if Bull was the first to blemish Cenzo’s record this year, I’m taking Our Little Meatball because he’s rounded out his game and has been lights-out perfect when the bright lights are on. Chef’s kiss, mwahh!

Jp: IOWA 12-11

174 Mark Hall vs Mitch Bowman

Sam Janicki, SJanickiPhoto.com
NCAA Wrestling: Big Ten Wrestling Championship Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

RB: We’re back in damage limitation mode here for Iowa. Kemerer-Hall was one of the matches I was most intrigued to see back when we found out that Kem was moving up to 174 lbs, but we’ll have to wait until 2019-20 to see that showdown.

The positive for Iowa here is that Mark Hall hasn’t been the bonus point maven that Jason Nolf and Bo Nickal are; he has bonus in just 52% of his 23 wins this year. That said, he can turn it on at times and Bowman has a bad habit of exposing his back at times, which can be fatal against high level opponents. I think Hall gets back points, but Bowman is able to limit the damage to a major decision loss here.

RB: IOWA 15-11

Jp: This is the kind of matchup Hall turns up the heat on. His top riding has been pretty unbelievable to watch--like I can’t believe he’s been able to keep studs like Bo Jordan & Zahid down for full periods. But I’d guess against Bowman, he’d pretty quickly abandon turn attempts and go takedowns & releases until he finds a cement mixer or standing cradle for the fall.

Jp: PSU 17-12

184 Shakur Rasheed vs Cash Wilcke

Sam Janicki, SJanickiPhoto.com
Sam Janicki, SJanickiPhoto.com

RB: When last these two met, they were both a little heavier -- and the match was very lopsided. Rasheed rolled through Wilcke with an 11-2 major decision at the dual last year, when both guys were competing at 197. They’re down at 184 and, frankly, they both look a lot like they did at 184. One small advantage for Wilcke? Rasheed has missed several duals in 2019 due to injury, so he may not be at 100% sharpness (or fitness) in this bout. I think Wilcke gives up a few early takedowns and is unable to mount an effective comeback. If he can avoid Rasheed’s cradle, though, I think he can avoid conceding bonus points.

RB: IOWA 15-14

Jp: Yeah, Rasheed’s had a rough season, which sucks, because of all the weights he’s tried to represent Penn State at, 184 does seem to be the best fit for his body. He was healthy at the Scuffle, but the field was pretty tame. He decked 4-seed Colbray in the semis, but Va Tech’s redshirting Hunter Bolen wrecked the bottom half of the bracket and kept both Louis Deprez and Jacobe Smith from giving Rasheed some nice new measuring sticks. He went on to defeat Bolen, 4-1 in a pretty ho-hum affair, for his second Scuffle title.

Beyond that deadly cradle, he’s really tough to score on; he’s only given up 1 takedown (if that; I haven’t seen updated takedown data recently) this year, and he hasn’t been ridden for any significant time yet at this weight. He rocked a big knee brace in the last dual, but we might see that reduced to just tape by B1Gs.

Jp: PSU 20-12

197 Bo Nickal vs Jacob Warner

Sam Janicki, SJanickiPhoto.com
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

RB: Bo Nickal has been an absolute terror in his career against Iowa. He’s 3-0 lifetime against Hawkeye opponents and he’s still yet to wrestle a full three minutes TOTAL against Iowa, scoring three first period pins in a minute or less. So if Jacob Warner can make it past 90 seconds against Bo, he’ll have set a new high water mark for Iowa wrestlers against Nickal.

Bo’s pinning ability is second-to-none (he has 15 pins in 22 wins this year), so it would hardly be a surprise if he was able to stick Warner here. I am going to cautiously (and very optimistically) hope that he is not able to pin Warner, though, and has to merely settle for a big major decision.

RB: PSU 18-15

Jp: There are a few examples out there for how not to get pinned by Nickal, but I’m not sure they’re “blueprint” level. Wrobleski (Ill) & Jakobsen (Lehigh) fought it off, but gave up the Tech Fall. Drexel, Bucknell, Breske (Wiscy) and Brunner (Pur) managed Majors, and only Nebby’s Eric Schultz has held him to a Decision, even adding a late takedown.

Warner doesn’t seem like the irresponsible (but totally fun and great for fans) let-if-fly kind of guy like Sammy Brooks or Kollin Moore, so I’d guess he would keep it in Major territory. But it’d be a long, hard 7 minutes.

Jp: PSU 24-12

285 Anthony Cassar vs Sam Stoll

Sam Janicki, SJanickiPhoto.com
Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

RB: It would have been grand to see what a healthy Sam Stoll could have done for his senior season. He looked really solid last year, especially in the NCAA Tournament, and I think he was primed to have a very strong season. Probably not the flashiest season in terms of style, but still. Alas, he’s clearly been hampered all year by an offseason knee injury and he doesn’t look all that close to the wrestler who was an All-American last year.

Cassar, on the other hand, has adapted to his move up from 197 very nicely and I think his tempo and skill from neutral would be too much for Stoll to overcome. Stoll is still a big target to try and topple, so I think he could prevent Cassar from getting bonus points, but it’s hard for me to see a win for Big Sammy in this bout.

RB: PSU 21-15

Jp: I’ve been entertained by Sam Stoll off the mat, and always lament missed opportunities due to injury, but I’m really looking forward to seeing Cassioppi next year. The new era of mobile, active Heavies is in full effect and Stoll might be the last of that dying breed that’s being supplanted--by “smaller” guys like Anthony Cassar.

Antnee’s done his own bit of supplanting, inside his own wrestling room, by bumping up from 197 and putting an early end to the career of Nick Nevills, a 2x All-American. He’s really relished the whole weight-room mentality, including applying the “pick heavy things up and put them down” mentality on the mats, against the remaining giants of the weight class. I don’t have updated TD data, but I think if it weren’t for Nolf, Cassar might be leading the team. He scored 4+ takedowns on each of Mason Parris, Conan Jennings, Trent Hilger, David Jensen and Jordan Wood, so I think there’s enough precedence there for me to predict a major over Stoll.

Jp: PSU 28-12

Final Takery

RB: The sobering thing when looking at those predictions is that that’s very close to a best case scenario for Iowa. Berge and (certainly) Joseph could easily win their close matches at 149 and 165 and it would hardly be a surprise of Nolf, Hall, Rasheed, or Nickal were able to rack up more bonus points than what I’ve allotted for them here.

This dual does not match up all that well for Iowa, particularly in the upper weights.

Jp: This is a really tough PSU squad to unseat in a Dual Meet.

Only Wisconsin was able to win 4 bouts against them, while Ohio State, Michigan and Sparty earned 3. Everybody else was held to two or fewer.

But in this hypothetical exercise, finding a way to beat this Penn State team isn’t really the point. It’s more about how could we fans get to see some more (and better) individual matchups than this sometimes blah season has given us, both nationally, and in conference.

Here’s hoping more than a few of these materialize in Minneapolis in two weeks.

Thanks so much to Ross for the fun chat!