Another BTN wrestling back-to-back on Friday! Penn State and Michigan, Iowa and Ohio State, what more could you want? Before we get into this week’s previews, I wanted to bring back a feature from last year that we’ve neglected: weekly superlatives! Every week, me and the other “writers” give out totally meaningless internet awards to the freshman wrestler with the best weekend performance, the best individual upset, and the most outstanding weekend performance overall. So, without further ado...
Freshman of the week goes to Iowa’s 125 pounder Drake Ayala, who scored victories over #7 Michael DeAugustino and #26 Justin Cardani. Upset goes to Wisconsin’s 157-pound wrestler Garrett Model and his 10-5 decision over #4 Brayton Lee of Minnesota, helping the Badgers get a 21-15 dual win. And, for Outstanding Wrestler, we have begrudgingly-yet-unanimously decided to give #1 Aaron Brooks the recognition for his major decision victory over #5 John Poznanski. Brooks wore the Rutgers freshman down and proved how far above the conference he still is. Okay, thank you for reading this, and onto the previews!
#1 Penn State Nittany Lions at #3 Michigan Wolverines, Friday at 5PM on BTN
HWAHSQB: Ooooh, boy. This is gonna be fun! It is forecast to be about 20 degrees Friday evening in Ann Arbor, but the action on the mat will be hot. Both teams are loaded with ranked guys (9 PSU, 10 UM) but not just ranked guys abound. We’ve got top ten guys and NCAA championship contenders all over the place here.
The fireworks kick off with #1 Nick Suriano against #7 Drew HIldebrandt at 125. There is some bad blood here as Suriano was a Nittany Lion his freshman year, but felt like Cael Sanderson and PSU mishandled his injury and left. Hildebrandt was an AA last year in his senior year and said he wasn’t going to use his COVID year. Then, PSU 125 Robbie Howard got injured and Cael had a hole in his lineup and pulled an (A)Ace out of his sleeve. The next match is another top ten duel with #1 Roman Bravo Young taking on #8 Dylan Ragusin, who looks stronger and improved this year. Guess what’s next??? Another #1 (Nick Lee) taking on another top ten foe, #4 Stevan Micic, who is 25 and in his 7th year of college.
The next two matches give us a bit of a breather as #16 Kanen Storr and #15 Will Lewan of Michigan take on unranked opponents. At 165 gives us another ranked bout as #10 Cam Amine takes on #16 Nittany Lion Brady Berge.
Then we get back to serious business as #1 Carter Starocci of PSU takes on #5 Logan Massa. Stall-occi was known for wrestling very conservatively last year. He has been much more aggressive this year, but hasn’t faced an opponent close to the level of Massa. Will he maintain his more open offensive style against an opponent who is capable of punishing him for it? I can’t wait to find out.
You may not believe this, but none of those previous matches were the best of the night?!? At 184, we get #1 Aaron Brooks against #2 Myles Amine. Brooks is a two time AA and defending national champ. Amine is a four time AA with a 4th and three 3rds at 174 and 197. Now he goes for another AA at another weight class and perhaps his first title?
Are you ready for a couple more top ten matchups? I hope so because we round out the night with #2 Max Dean Ivy League transfer for PSU against #8 Ivy League transfer Pat Brucki for Michigan and then finally, #2 Mason Parris takes the mat for the Wolverines and #4 Greg Kerkvielet goes for the Nittany Lions.
Whoo! I’m spent just typing about these matchups. Seriously, even if you’ve never watched wrestling, this is going to be great. You don’t have anything better to do. It’s effin cold out and if you do get out, you’ll probably just get COVID anyway. Stay home and watch this one. You won’t regret it.
My pick is Michigan 16, PSU 15.
Who you got
This poll is closed
#2 Iowa Hawkeyes at #9 Ohio State, Friday at 7PM on BTN
Atinat: Well Michigan kinda set the bar pretty high last week, defeating Ohio State 29-8. Still, I think Iowa is the best dual team in the Big Ten, and they match up pretty well with Ohio State. The dual kicks off with the newly christened top-ten Drake Ayala seeing #18 Malik Heinselman, and I like Ayala for a major decision here. Iowa should win at 133, and probably find bonus points, regardless of who goes, then #2 Jaydin Eierman faces #23 Dylan D’Emilio, and while Eierman hasn’t been himself so far this year, I like him to find bonus points here, too. Ohio State is favored for the first time when #2 Sammy Sasso meets #10 Max Murin, who he pinned in their last meeting. Young should be able to handle the unranked Jashon Hubbard, and I have Iowa up 15-3 at the break.
The match of the day is probably #1 Alex Marinelli against freshman #7 Carson Kharchla. Kharchla is fun to watch, and definitely has a high ceiling, but I’m gonna take the Bull until proven otherwise. That’s followed by another top-ten matchup at 174, where #2 Michael Kemerer should be favored over #7 Ethan Smith, who is up from 165 a year ago. #7 Kaleb Romero is the second and final favorite for the Buckeyes, but Wrestlestat actually has #18 Abe Assad winning. I don’t know if I’m that confident, so we’ll call it 3 for Ohio State to be cautious. Iowa is heavy favorites in the final two, with #4 Jacob Warner meeting #20 Gavin Hoffman at 197 and #5 Tony Cassioppi seeing #12 Tate Orndorff. Cass went 3-0 against Orndorff last year, with two pins and a major decision, and I have him recording another pin this time around. So, I have Iowa winning by a score of 30-6, slightly besting Michigan’s performance. As a team dual, this shouldn’t be close, but 149, 165, 174, and 184 could all be great matches to watch.
How bad is it
This poll is closed
I have Ohio State to screw with you
#15 Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Michigan State, Friday at 5PM on BTN+
Atinat: Michigan State is coming off a big win against Purdue. Can they replicate that performance against Rutgers? Probably not! Rutgers has big favorites at 141, 157, and 184, with tossups at 133, 149, 165, 174, 197, and 285. Michigan State is only really favored at 125, but has a path to victory through all those tossups.
At 133, Michigan State has the higher ranked wrestler in #12 Rayvon Foley, but Rutgers freshman Joey Olivieri has been a wild card so far this year. At 149, Rutgers has the only ranked wrestler in #17 Mike Van Brill, but Peyton Omania should not be counted out. 165 and 174 both have two unranked wrestlers at each weight. At 197, #6 Greg Bulsak faces #15 Cam Caffey, though Caffey is a three-time national qualifier and lost in the round of 12 last year. Neither wrestler is ranked at 285 to close the dual.
I have Michigan State winning at 125, 133, 149, and 165, with Rutgers picking up the rest with bonus points at 141 and 184 and scoring the dual victory 21-12.
Maryland Terrapins at Indiana Hoosiers, Friday at 6PM on BTN+
HWAHSQB: Ok, last place red B1G teams. LET’S GET READY TO RUMBLE!!!!! It’s like the Super Bowl, Rose Bowl, and game 7 of the World Series rolled up into one night for these two teams as this dual will decide which one of these teams avoids the cellar.
It feels a little crazy saying this, but we have a top 12 matchup to look forward to in this dual, as both team’s top guy wrestles at 184. #8 Donnell Washington (IU) takes on #12 Kyle Cochran (MU) in a match that has significant B1G and NCAA seeding implications. Both these guys can score so it should be fun.
I think Indinia probably has too much for Queen Mary’s boys. I’ll go with Hoosiers 20, Terps 12.
#19 Illinois Fighting Illini at Purdue Boilermakers, Friday at 6PM on BTN+
HWAHSQB: Purdue seems at times to be a program on the rise. That is, right up until the NCAA tournament. Then the Boilers do what the Boilers do in NCAA tournaments: underperform. Did you know Purdue hasn’t had an AA since 2013? Will Devon Schroder and Kendall Coleman follow in the footsteps of guys like Christian Brunner and Luke Welch racking up regular season accolades, but never becoming an AA. Only time will tell, but at the moment, the wrestlers are doing their best to live up to the standard set by Gene Keady and Matt Painter across campus.
This will likely be a tight dual with some really good matchups. Four matches could feature two ranked wrestlers. Devon Schroder will beat Justin Cardani 2-0 like he always does. As it is written, so it shall be. The next two have higher ranked Illini that have struggled with their Boiler counterpart. All-American Dylan Duncan (if he’s healthy) has a demonstrably better record against common opponents, but is only 2-2 against Parker Filius and at 184, #17 Zac Braunagel goes against #28 Max Lyon, who is 3-0 against the big Brauny. At 197, #16 Thomas Penola takes on #30 Matt Wroblewski, who could really use another signature win for NCAA qualifying purposes.
The final score here will hinge on three things. 1. Is Duncan wrestling? 2. Do heavy favorites Lucas Byrd (ILL) Kendall Coleman (PU) Gerrit Nijenhuis (PU) and Danny Braunagel (ILL) get bonus? 3. Who wins that matchup at 184? I’ll say No, major decision for Coleman, and Yes, which adds up to a 16-15 Boilermaker win.
#14 Nebraska Cornhuskers at #7 Wisconsin Badgers, Friday at 7PM on BTN+
Kind of...: Wrestlestat has this 17-16 for Wisconsin, which means they ought to just resurrect the shruggie emoticon. UW is favored to win at 125 and 133, while Chad Red should give Nebraska a win at 141. 133—Kyle Burwick vs. Alex Thomsen—is far from a sure thing for UW, though. 149 may be THE match of the meet: #4 Ridge Lovett vs. #8 Austin Gomez. Interestingly Wrestlestat has Gomez favored, so a Nebraska win here could tip the dual. 157 should be safe for Nebraska—though Garrett Model is coming off of an upset win of Brayton Lee—and Dean Hamiti has a good chance at grabbing bonus points for UW at 165. Nebraska should be solid favorites at 174, 184, and 197 with a reasonable shot at bonus points at 174 and 184. Finally, at HWT, Trent Hillger makes UW a slight favorite over Christian Lance.
In short, while I can see how UW is a slight favorite, such a prediction requires UW to win at 141 and to get more bonus points, notwithstanding that it seems like Nebraska is likelier to win 6 bouts than UW is, and they have more bouts at which bonus points seem like a possibility. As thrilled as I am with UW’s season thus far, I have a sneaking suspicion that Nebraska is going to show up Friday night. I think it will be entertaining, and I’m calling for more bonus points, but see Nebraska walking away with a 20-16 win.
#7 Wisconsin Badgers at Purdue Boilermakers, Sunday at 3PM on BTN
Kind of...: Wrestlestat has this one 17-15 for UW. But for this one, I think it’s UW who has more paths to winning the dual. Devin Schroder deserves to be favored over Eric Barnett at 125, but UW could win this bout. Barnett has beaten Schroder before and is coming off of a nice win over Patrick McKee of Minnesota. Matt Ramos has the slight rating edge over Kyle Burwick at 133, but I expect Burwick to win and level the meet. At 141, Purdue is favored, though, like at 125, this is winnable for UW and, like at 125, the UW wrestler (Joseph Zargo) has already beaten his Purdue opponent (Parker Filius). I like Filius this time around, though.
At 149, Austin Gomez should roll for UW, getting bonus points. However, expect Kendall Coleman to win at 157 and re-take the lead for Purdue. But Dean Hamiti should be good for at least four points at 165 (I’m predicting a fall). Purdue is favored at 174 and 184. I’d love to pick a UW upset—both McNally and Weiler are capable—but Nijenhuis and Lyon are solid wrestlers and should get the wins. I will go out on a limb and pick Braxton Amos to knock off Thomas Penola at 197. Penola has a great tank, but Amos seems to be on the verge of getting a breakthrough win. Finally, Hillger should clean up at HWT.
Overall, I have it 20-15 for Wisconsin. However, if Penola beats Amos, that would make it 18-17 Purdue. Even so, there isn’t a matchup where a UW win would be totally stunning. 157 is the closest, and Model already has a top-5 upset on his resume. A Purdue win wouldn’t be a grave disappointment, but Wisconsin should find a way.
Wisconsin vs Prude U
This poll is closed
Boilers will be made
Maryland Terrapins at #9 Ohio State, Sunday at Noon on BTN+
HWAHSQB: Maryland, you better win Friday, cause Sunday you ain’t gonna have a good time. Kyle Cochran’s weekend doesn’t get any easier as he takes on #7 Kaleb Romero. 197 should be a good one (and one of the few 197 matches that doesn’t have at least one guy who went to high school in Illinois) #20 Gavin Hoffman hasn’t really lived up to his recruiting hype faces a tough competition from #32 Jaron Smith. I think I’ll pick Smith for the upset, but other than that, the final will be OSU a lot against Maryland’s a little. Call it 29-6 Buckeyes.
#1 Penn State at Michigan State, Sunday at Noon on BTN+
Atinat: Yeah, this is gonna get ugly. Penn State is favored in 9 of 10 matches, and 8 of them are pretty wide margins. Run, Sparty. Run while you still can.
#14 Nebraska Cornhuskers at #21 Northwestern Wildcats, Sunday at 2PM on BTN+
HWAHSQB: Will the real NU please stand up? This should be a very tight battle for which NU gets hung with the j and it has two of the very best marquise matchups outside of the Michigan-PSU dual. Those two plus a third ranked matchup will be the deciding factor in who takes this dual.
The first top matchup is at 149, where #4 Ridge Lovett will take on #11 ranked Yahya Thomas followed immediately at 157 where the Wildcats send out #2 Ryan Deakin to take on #5 Peyton Robb. Robb looks to bounce back after taking a tough loss to Minnesota’s Brayton Lee this past weekend. The dual will conclude with fat boys #11 Christian Lance in red against #14 Lucas Davison in purple.
The other matches should fall 4 - 3 in favor of red NU, so purple NU needs to take care of 2⁄3 of these ranked matchups to even up the score. I think they fall short and the final ends up 20-14 for Big Red.
#15 Rutgers Scarlet Knights at #3 Michigan Wolverines, Sunday at 3PM on BTN+
Atinat: This is a much easier test for Michigan than Penn State. They’ll start with a huge advantage at 125, where #1 Nick Suriano sees #27 Dylan Shawver. They’re favored again at 133, where #8 Dylan Ragusin faces Rutgers freshman Joey Olivieri, ranked 20th. The match of the day comes at 141 pounds, where #3 Sebastian Rivera meets #4 Stevan Micic of Michigan. Another close bout follows, with #16 Kanen Storr of Michigan facing #17 Mike Van Brill. The lightweights close with #15 Will Lewan seeing the first unranked wrestler of the day, Rutgers’ Robert Kanniard. I have all the favorites in the first five, with bonus points coming at 125 for Nick Suriano and Michigan leading 13-3 at the break.
Rutgers sends another unranked wrestler, Andrew Clark, to face #10 Cam Amine at 165 pounds, and then again when Connor O’Neill sees #6 Logan Massa at 174 pounds. The second premier matchup comes at 184 pounds, where #2 Myles Amine meets #5 John Poznanski, another Scarlet Knight freshman. Our final top ten matchup comes at 197, where #6 Greg Bulsak represents Rutgers and #8 Pat Brucki comes out for the Wolverines. Michigan obviously has a big advantage at heavyweight, where #2 Mason Parris faces either Boone McDermott or Alex Esposito, both unranked. I have Michigan sweeping the backside and winning this dual 30-3.