The Big Easy plays host to Penn State, Ohio State, ten other teams, and this “writer” for a two-day dual tournament. How does it work? The twelve teams are separated into two pools, and those pools into two pods. Each pod plays a round-robin, and then the winners play one another to determine a pool champion (and 3rd- and 5th-place finishers). There is no competing across pools, as conference mates are kept away from each other.
Action begins at 10AM, with #16 UNI facing Lock Haven in the red pool and #7 Iowa State drawing #25 Oregon State in the blue. Lock Haven stays on to see #3 Ohio State next, and #25 Oregon State gets #14 Cornell Big Red. Then #3 Ohio State and #16 UNI wrestle, while #14 Cornell and #7 Iowa State do battle. After the first pod finishes, #21 Lehigh faces #28 Cal Poly in the red pool and #17 North Carolina faces Central Michigan in the blue. #28 Cal Poly stays on for #12 NC State, and #1 Penn State faces Central Michigan. #12 NC State and #21 Lehigh finish action in the red pool, and #1 Penn State and #17 UNC is the premier matchup in the blue.
So is there any chance Penn State and Ohio State don’t win?
I hope so! I haven’t quite reached a decision on all my rooting interests beyond UNI (I’m from Cedar Falls) and not-Penn State (so probably de facto Iowa State, which, along with my newfound Brock Purdy fandom, has me feeling icky). But on paper? Probably not!
Using the super-scientific Wrestlestat comparison tool, we see that the first pools are pretty clear. Ohio State is heavily favored over UNI, who is heavily favored over Lock Haven. Iowa State and Cornell are both heavily favored over Oregon State, but it’s Cornell who are actually pretty solid favorites over the Cyclones, thanks to a stronger lightweight group. NC State is similarly a heavy favorite over their group, with Lehigh obviously expected to finish in front of Cal Poly, and Penn State over UNC over Central Michigan is very much the expectation.
So, no close matches? Not so fast! Wrestlestat actually has Ohio State losing to NC State, though it projects a win by Jarrett Trombley over Malik Heinselman that makes little sense and would swing the dual. Penn State would be favored over Iowa State, but a matchup against Cornell would be much closer. The big one to watch in that one would be national champ RBY facing Vitali “Vito” Arujau, a Pan-Am champion and all-American, at 133 pounds.
Aside from that one, there’s a couple more big matches to watch for. You can check those out on NCAA.com. I will give updates throughout the day, but I won’t exactly be threading all matches due to the simultaneous duals and the fact that this is my vacation and first time watching live wrestling since March. By the way, sorry the coverage has been lacking a little bit, I promise our writing will increase and improve as the season picks up (and my work schedule dies down).