What a difference a year makes! Last season, Michigan was one of if not the favorite to win the national title, with a ton of horsepower coming back for their covid year and transfers filling in the depth chart. This year, they’re still a strong dual meet team, but the odds of the Wolverines repeating as Big Ten tournament champs are very, very slim.
The Nittany Lions, however, are poised in a big way to repeat at the tournament that actually matters - the one that, this year, is in Tulsa. There are obviously holes in the lineup for Penn State (one in particular that’s been a hole for a few years), but top to bottom it’s a strong lineup in the blue and white that will wait another week to be fully challenged.
How To Watch
What: #1 Penn State vs #4 Michigan*
Where: Bryce Jordan Center, University Park, PA
When: Friday, January 21, 7 pm EST
Audio: Free (via GoPSUSports)
Video: Big Ten Network
|#1 Penn State||WT||#4 Michigan|
|#1 Penn State||WT||#4 Michigan|
|Gary Steen (Fr., Hermitage, PA)||125||#23 - Jack Medley (Gr., Chesterfield, MI)|
|#1 - Roman Bravo-Young (Sr., Tucson, AZ)||133||#12 - Dylan Ragusin (So., Elk Grove Village, IL)|
|#4 - Beau Bartlett (Jr., Tempe, AZ)||141||#23 - Cole Mattin (Jr., Delta, OH)|
|#14 - Shayne Van Ness (Fr., Somerville, NJ)||149||#21 - Chance Lamer (Fr., Corvalis, OR)|
|#17 - Levi Haines (Fr., Arendtsville, PA) OR Terrell Barraclough (So., Kaysville, UT)||157||#10 - Will Lewan (Sr., Chicago, IL)|
|#16 - Alex Facundo (Fr., Essexville, MI)||165||#5 - Cameron Amine (Jr., Brighton, MI)|
|#1 - Carter Starocci (Jr., Erie, PA)||174||#30 - Max Maylor (Sr., Highland, WI)|
|#1 - Aaron Brooks (Sr., Hagerstown, MD)||184||#9 - Matt Finesilver (Gr., Greenwood Village, CO)|
|#4 - Max Dean (Sr., Lowell, MI)||197||Brendin Yatooma (So., South Lyon, MI)|
|#1 - Greg Kerkvliet (So., Grove Heights, MN)||285||#2 - Mason Parris (Sr., Lawrenceburg, IN)|
The last time we saw Penn State wrestle, Steen got manhandled by one of the best wrestlers at this weight in Wisconsin’s Eric Barnett. Medley beat him right before he took on Steen; I still think that the PSU grappler has enough fight in him to keep it to a regular decision.
Prediction: Medley by decision
Score: PSU 0, Michigan 3
Ragusin is a decent wrestler, but Roman Bravo-Young is next level. I think the Wolverine won’t wrestle to win but rather to not win by bonus, and he (frustratingly) succeeds.
Prediction: RBY by decision
Score: PSU 3, Michigan 3
Honestly, I almost predicted a pin here. Not because Beau Bartlett at 141 is that much better than Mattin, but because of all of our wrestlers, Bartlett could feed off of the BJC energy the most. The run to the podium for the junior continues.
Prediction: Bartlett by major decision
Score: PSU 7, Michigan 3
This battle of freshmen will be a test of the future of Big Ten middleweights, and I’d be surprised if the PSUer doesn’t put on a sort of clinic - somewhere in the realm of 3-4 takedowns in the first period, and double digit points overall. I do think that Lamer is able to keep it to a regular decision, but not for lack of effort by Van Ness late in the third.
Prediction: Van Ness by decision
Score: PSU 10, Michigan 3
If there wasn’t a #1 vs #2 on the docket to end this dual meet, this would be a match of the meet - but that’s undoubtedly the highlight of the night, and so the PSU true freshman, now ranked for the first time this year, gets a shot at an upset win. Lewan was an All-American last year and beat Brady Berge at the Big Tens (when Berge was down at 157 in the post season) and Barraclough in the dual. If it is Terrell who gets the nod again this year, Lewan wins it close, but if not - Haines gets his best win so far, and gets it resoundingly.
Prediction: Haines by decision
Score: PSU 13, Michigan 3
Is there a Penn State wrestler that’s been very good but had a tougher road than Alex Facundo? I’m hard pressed to say, and that’s evidenced by the fact that he’s still ranked despite the three losses to higher ranked guys. Facundo could very well be leading in this bout until the third period, but Amine’s experience will just win out on the day.
Prediction: Amine by decision
Score: PSU 13, Michigan 6
I still can’t get over Carter Starocci’s post-match interview after the Iowa State dual, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. He won’t lose this year, and his confidence in himself and his team is unmatched. He’ll will them all to victory if at all possible and will scrap his way to bonus tonight.
Prediction: Carter by major decision
Score: PSU 17, Michigan 6
Last year, this was continuously one of the matches of the meet because of the calibre of wrestling of Myles Amine; splitting those three bouts last year 2-1, AB became a two-time champ. This year, Michigan went outside their program to Duke to grab transfer Matt Finesilver, having one of his best seasons of his career. But Aaron Brooks is better.
Prediction: AB by decision
Score: PSU 20, Michigan 6
Max Dean is gearing up to be on a tear after his losses and will continue on that this week.
Prediction: Dean by fall
Score: PSU 26, Michigan 6
285 LBS - Match of the Meet
Kerkvliet hasn’t lost to Mason Parris since March 2021, and Parris didn’t have a takedown in the last two tries against the Nittany Lion top ranked heavyweight. Despite wrestlestat thinking otherwise, that outcome isn’t going to be much different in the BJC.
Prediction: Kerk by decision
Score: PSU 29, Michigan 6
Overall score prediction: Penn State 29, Michigan 6
*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. Penn State is #1 in both rankings; Michigan is #4 in the dual meet rankings, and #14 in the tournament rankings.