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Wrestling Preview: No. 1 Penn State vs No. 17 Rutgers

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Now a universal number one, the Nittany Lions have a Friday break but are back at it against the Scarlet Knights this weekend!

Penn State v Pennsylvania Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images

Last week, Penn State shot to the top of the intermat tournament rankings after Spencer Lee announced he was undergoing season-ending surgery; this week, after former CMU wrestler Drew Hildebrandt entered the lineup for Penn State (and highly touted freshman Drake Ayala entered the lineup for the Hawkeyes), PSU is number one in the dual meet rankings as well. There’s debates to be had over both, but luckily those debates will be settled in the coming weeks (in Ann Arbor and Iowa City).

This weekend’s action likely won’t tell us much more than we already knew about the 2021-2022 Nittany Lion wrestling squad, but it’s always good to see the team against another ranked opponent—even one that’s both suffered AND benefitted from some transfers in the offseason like Rutgers has.

Side note: Rutgers hosts Illinois on Friday evening, and the following predictions (written before that dual starts) don’t take any of those outcomes into consideration.

How To Watch

What: #1 Penn State vs #17 Rutgers*

Where: Rec Hall, University Park, PA

When: Sunday, January 16, 5 pm

Audio: Free, via GoPSUSports

Video: ESPNU

Lineup

#1 Penn State WT #17 Rutgers
#1 Penn State WT #17 Rutgers
#9 - Drew Hildebrandt (Sr., Granger, IN) 125 #31 - Dylan Shawver (Fr., Lorain, OH)
#1 - Roman Bravo-Young (Sr., Tucson, AZ) 133 #20 - Joseph Olivieri (Fr., East Hanover, NJ) OR Devon Britton (Fr., Northampton, PA)
#1 - Nick Lee (Sr., Evansville, IN) 141 #3 - Sebastian Rivera (Sr., Toms River, NJ)
#19 - Beau Bartlett (So., Tempe, AZ) 149 #18 - Michael VanBrill (Sr., Mullica Hill, NJ)
Tony Negron (Jr., North Babylon, NY) OR Terrell Barraclough (So., Kaysville, UT) OR Joe Lee (So., Evansville, IN) 157 Robert Kanniard (Fr., Wall, NJ)
#24 - Creighton Edsall (Jr., Wyalusing, PA) 165 Andrew Clark (Fr., Collingswood, NJ)
#1 - Carter Starocci (So., Erie, PA) 174 #26 - Jackson Turley (So., Chester, VA)
#1 - Aaron Brooks (Jr., Hagerstown, MD) 184 #5 - John Poznanski (Fr., Colonia, NJ)
#2 - Max Dean (Jr., Lowell, MI) 197 #7 - Greg Bulsak (Sr., South Park, PA)
#4 - Greg Kerkvliet (So., Grove Heights, MN) 285 Boone McDermott (So., Dubuque, IA)

125 LBS

Hildebrandt started his PSU wrestling career with a bang in college park, and followed that up with a workmanlike win over a decent Hoosier opponent. This week gets tougher, as Shawver has a good shot at making the NCAA tournament this year in his second season in an RU singlet.

Prediction: Hildebrandt by decision

Score: PSU 3, Rutgers 0

133 LBS

Wrestlestat’s algorithms continue to underestimate RBY, and it continues to baffle me. They have Olivieri as the #4 guy at this weight (ahead of proven wrestlers with fewer losses like Pitt’s Micky Phillippi—who beat Olivieri at the IL Matmen tourney—and ASU’s McGee), and in their dual predictions, expect the PSUer to lose this bout. I don’t think so, and I don’t expect this to be particularly close.

Prediction: RBY by major decision

Score: PSU 7, Rutgers 0

141 LBS - Match of the Meet

Lee is 2-0 versus Seabass (both from last year, in the NU transfer’s first season at this weight). While the first bout, at big tens, lived up to the hype, the second (in St Louis) did not—but Seabass is already having a very, very good start to his season. I expect this to come down to the wire, with Lee’s vaunted gas tank being the decider.

Prediction: N. Lee by decision

Score: PSU 10, Rutgers 0

149 LBS

Bartlett let his IU opponent back into the match late last Sunday, and can’t let that happen again as Van Brill absolutely will take advantage. I think Beau’s “throw ish against him to see what sticks” approach more recently gets him the win.

Prediction: Beau by decision

Score: PSU 13, Rutgers 0

157 LBS

I went back and forth on this prediction a lot, and ultimately decided that predicting a shutout against a ranked foe was bad juju on my part. So Tony gets the Gulibon thrown on him.

Prediction: Kanniard by decision

Score: PSU 13, Rutgers 3

165 LBS

Two days before Creighton majored IU’s Sammy Cokeley, RU’s Clark beat him in a 3-0 decision. I’m not saying the transitive property is foolproof, but it sure seems to be applicable here.

Prediction: Edsell by major decision

Score: PSU 17, Rutgers 3

174 LBS

Carter’s path to a repeat continues. Ho, hum, more bonus expected.

Prediction: Starocci by tech fall

Score: PSU 22, Rutgers 3

184 LBS

If the Brooks that showed up against DJ on Sunday is who the top five Poznanski has to face this weekend, the Jersey boy is in a world of trouble (and this one won’t be kept to a regular decision). I’m expecting something in the middle, with a dominant performance bg the returning champ but ultimately a 5-6 point win.

Prediction: AB by decision

Score: PSU 25, Rutgers 3

197 LBS

Another algorithmic prediction that makes no sense, wrestlestat has Dean understandably number two at this weight but has the Clarion transfer (#9 in their algorithm) the victor. I don’t buy it. It’s been five years since the two have met, and both are better wrestlers—but Dean more exponentially so. The bow and arrow makes the difference in this one.

Prediction: Dean by decision

Score: PSU 28, Rutgers 3

285 LBS

The question in the final bout of the night will be, does Kerk get the team’s only pin of the meet? I think the Iowa Central CC transfer (prior to last season) does enough to keep both shoulder blades from being called down, and the bout still ends early.

Prediction: Kerk by tech fall

Score: PSU 33, Rutgers 3

Overall score prediction: PSU 33, Rutgers 3


*The Penn State athletic department, in its official capacity, uses Intermat Tournament Rankings in all its match literature; I’m using Intermat’s Dual Meet rankings because this happens to be a dual. Rutgers is ranked #17 in the dual rankings, and #14 in the tournament rankings; Penn State is #1 in both.