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Wrestling Preview: No. 1 Penn State vs Michigan State

After a thorough dismantling of last year’s NCAA runner up, the Nittany Lions are onto the other team from Michigan, this time in Rec Hall.

The Nittany Lions’ Big Ten season continues as the Spartans come to town! These two teams are coming into Sunday having had very different Friday evenings—Penn State went into Rec Hall and dominated Michigan, while MSU went on the road to the RAC and lost by one team point (for loss of mat control), 16-15, to Rutgers.

Michigan State is 7-3 on the dual meet season, with their three losses coming in their last three bouts, to Michigan, Minnesota, and the Scarlet Knights. Incidentally, there were team points deducted in each of those bouts - a fact that has no bearing on the outcomes of their first two Big Ten duals (Michigan lost a point due lack of control of mat area during the 197 bout, and MSU lost a point during 184 vs the Gophers for throwing headgear) but nevertheless, I found interesting.

The march to Penn State’s eleventh national title (tenth of the last 13 contested tournaments) continues Sunday!

How To Watch

What: #1 Penn State vs Michigan State*

Where: Rec Hall, University Park, PA

When: Sunday, January 22, 1 pm EST

Audio: Free (via GoPSUSports)

Video: B1G+

Lineup

#1 Penn State WT Michigan State
#1 Penn State WT Michigan State
Gary Steen (Fr., Hermitage, PA) 125 #24 - Tristan Lujan (Jr., Selma, CA)
#1 - Roman Bravo-Young (Sr., Tucson, AZ) 133 #16 - Rayvon Foley (Gr., Ann Arbor, MI)
#4 - Beau Bartlett (Jr., Tempe, AZ) 141 Jordan Hamdan (Jr., Hudson, MI)
#14 - Shayne Van Ness (Fr., Somerville, NJ) 149 Petyon Omania (Jr., Concord, CA)
#17 - Levi Haines (Fr., Arendtsville, PA) OR Terrell Barraclough (So., Kaysville, UT) 157 #15 - Chase Saldate (Jr., Gilroy, CA)
#16 - Alex Facundo (Fr., Essexville, MI) 165 #25 - Caleb Fish (Jr., Eaton Rapids, MI)
#1 - Carter Starocci (Jr., Erie, PA) 174 Caesar Garza (Fr., Oakdale, CA)
#1 - Aaron Brooks (Sr., Hagerstown, MD) 184 #15 - Layne Malczewski (Sr., Macomb, MI)
#4 - Max Dean (Sr., Lowell, MI) 197 #14 - Cameron Caffey (Gr., Carbondale, IL)
#1 - Greg Kerkvliet (So., Grove Heights, MN) 285 Ryan Vasbinder (Gr., Wyoming, MI)

125 LBS

The last two bouts, I predicted Steen would keep it close. In both, the result was a tech fall. This time, I’m going to predict bonus but wouldn’t be surprised if it’s closer than an 8 point victory for the Spartan junior, especially since he didn’t post a point in his loss to PSUer Drew Hildebrandt last season.

Prediction: Lujan by major decision

Score: PSU 0, MSU 4

133 LBS

Friday night played out much as I expected, with RBY being kept in check by a wrestler who, after a questionable takedown call when this humble blogger thought they were already out of bounds, turtled up at the end. Rayvon Foley will not wrestle that way, but will be outmatched by the returning two-time champ. I expect a victory in the 3-4 point range.

Prediction: RBY by decision

Score: PSU 3, MSU 4

141 LBS

Though Beau didn’t get a major on Friday, he did resoundingly win over another ranked opponent, building his case for some legitimate AA-or-bust expectations. A week ago, Hamdan lost to Michigan’s Mattin by major - so why not the guy who just dominated him on Friday?

Prediction: Bartlett by major decision

Score: PSU 7, MSU 4

149 LBS

We were robbed on Friday night when ranked Chance Lamer couldn’t wrestle for the Wolverines, but that’s a matchup we likely will see for years to come. Sunday’s bout with Omania is a little different, and should be fairly lopsided from the jump. I wouldn’t be surprised if it doesn’t get out of the first period, though that’s not my prediction.

Prediction: Van Ness by major decision

Score: PSU 11, MSU 4

157 LBS - Match of the Meet

Friday night was the last bout Levi Haines could wrestle and still keep his redshirt - so what do the coaches do? I’ve been asked this question by a number of folks, and have no more insight than the average fan, but I’m certainly hoping we’ll see the true freshman continue to wrestle this season (sorry, Bearclaw :(). If Haines does go, this would be the marquee matchup of the night and put another notch in the youngster’s cap.

Prediction: Haines by decision

Score: PSU 14, MSU 4

165 LBS

It wasn’t a surprise that Haines beat Lewan on Friday - exciting and a portent of things to come, surely, but not too much of a surprise for the heralded freshman.

It was a surprise, at least for me, that Facundo beat Cam Amine, and was the first one to score in a decisive offensive takedown to boot! Alex’s schedule has been a difficult one this season and Fish is no slouch, but he’ll be riding high and confident after Friday’s upset and I expect this will be more dominant than the score indicates.

Prediction: Facundo by decision

Score: PSU 16, MSU 4

174 LBS

Prediction: Carter by pin

Score: PSU 22, MSU 4

184 LBS

If Friday night’s any indicator for the rest of the season, the field for 184 doesn’t stand a chance. Not that I thought they did anyway, but now they really don’t - Brooks is on a tear and will put himself in positions to dominate, no amatter the opponent.

Prediction: AB by major decision

Score: PSU 26, MSU 4

197 LBS

Last year, Cam Caffey was the loss that spurred Max Dean on to a national title. This year, the losses were doubled and came sooner - but since then, Max seems to have gotten his head onto the domination that he’s capable of. Dean avenged last season’s loss later on at the Big Ten tournament, and though I’m not expecting bonus here, I am expecting over two minutes of riding time for the PSU grappler.

Prediction: Dean by decision

Score: PSU 29, MSU 4

285 LBS

The one surprise on Friday, for me, was Kerk not being able to get to Mason Parris’s legs. He’s got some things to work on, but luckily will likely have two more opportunities to avenge Friday’s loss. That road starts today.

Prediction: Kerk by pin

Score: PSU 35, MSU 4

Overall score prediction: Penn State 35, Michigan State 4


*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 State is unranked in both (but ranked in the coach’s poll).

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