#8 Ohio State at #14 Minnesota Gophers, Friday at 8PM on the Big Ten Network
Atinat: The best dual of the night, that’s for sure. We’ll start off with two ranked wrestlers, as #9 Pat McKee leads off for the Gophers against #11 Malik Heinselman of the Buckeyes. Then, we get two unranked wrestlers, as Jake Gliva and Dylan Koontz are scheduled to do battle. Our third straight tossup to kick off includes #20 Dylan D’Emilio and #15 Jake Bergeland at 141 pounds. These three matches could go either way, but I actually have Minnesota favored in all three. However, despite having a ranked wrestler, they will not win at 149. Ohio State’s Sammy Sasso is a big favorite over the 14-10, thirtieth-ranked Michael Blockhus. But I don’t have to tell you who I’m rooting for. Minnesota is a favorite at 157, with Brayton Lee drawing Jashon Hubbard fresh off the former’s win over Kendall Coleman.
Assuming a 12-3 lead, Ohio State would need their full team back in the upperweights to have a shot at this dual. Carson Kharchla, Ethan Smith, Kaleb Romero are big favorites over their foes, and should all three win, this dual could be tied in match wins. Obviously Minnesota has a big (hehe) favorite at heavyweight, so Ohio State would need Gavin Hoffman to stay in good form against Michial Foy at 197 pounds to tie the match victories at 5. Should that be the case, the dual would come down to bonus points. Ohio State has a chance at 149, where the second-ranked Sammy Sasso is a big favorite. But he isn’t exactly a bonus machine against competent foes. So not only would Ohio State need bonus points somewhere else, they would need Tate Orndorff to hold the Olympic gold medalist Steveson to either no bonus points for the first time this year, or at most a major decision for a tie.
The simplest path for Ohio State is to just win a couple toss-ups. Likewise, if Minnesota can take the first three or steal one somewhere, their victory is nearly assured. I have Minnesota winning this 18-15, with Steveson ending the dual with a pin. But, Ohio State has more paths to victory (three) than Minnesota (maybe two? but definitely one).
Don’t Gophers eat nuts or something?
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#3 Michigan Wolverines at Indiana Hoosiers, Friday at 6PM on BTN+
Atinat: Poor Indiana. They could maybe score upsets at 133, 149, or... no that’s about it. I mean, maybe DJ Washington shocks the world against Myles Amine. Michigan’s gonna find lots of bonus points, I’m gonna favor them 38-0.
Northwestern Wildcats at #15 Michigan State Spartans, Friday at 6PM on BTN+
Atinat: Boy, I would’ve had these team rankings flipped at the start of the year. Don’t get me wrong though, Michigan State has earned that ranking. They’re 9-2 this year with losses to Ohio State and Penn State, while Northwestern is 4-4. However, Michigan State hasn’t wrestled any of the teams that Northwestern has lost to.
Northwestern is a big favorite in four of the first five matches, with the only tossup coming at 133 pounds. They’re still a small favorite there, with #8 Chris Cannon going against #11 Rayvon Foley from Michigan State. Michigan State might convince themselves they have a chance at 157, where #17 Chase Saldate sees #2 Ryan Deakin, but I assure you they do not. I have this as 15-0 at the break. It’s really hard to come back from 15-0. I have Michigan State favored three times in the back five, but they have a liability at 174 and a big underdog at 285. I’m gonna be honest here, I don’t see a path to victory for Michigan State. Even if they win 133, 165, 184, and 197, and steal 149, they’d have to avoid bonus points at 141, 157, 174, and 285. Gimmie the Cats, 24-10.
Illinois Flightless Illini at #13 Wisconsin Badgers, Friday at 7PM on BTN+
HWAHSQB: There is a path to victory for Illinois in this dual, but it is pretty slim. Wisconsin has a heavy favorite at 149, 157, 165, and 174. Illinois would need to hold these all to regular decision or at least be able to match any bonus here at 133 and 141 where Illinois is the heavy favorite. Byrd picking up a major would be great. 184 leans Illinois, but Weiler beat Braunagel in their only H2H meeting, but Illinois must have this one. Wisconsin is the favorite in the remaining three matches, but Luffman has beaten Hillger and Cardani has beaten Barnett, so those aren’t impossible. Wroblewski has wrestled better lately, but he struggles against bigger stronger guys and Amos certainly fits that description. So, it’s possible, but 22-13 stripey skunks seems a lot more probable.
Kind of...: I think Mr. used-to-be-a-QB has a pretty good read on this. Barnett is better than last year, and Cardani really isn’t, so I don’t see a path for an Illinois win unless they get the upset at 157. But we’re not talking PSU/Maryland here, either. And if Byrd and Duncan both get bonus points, it might be interesting through the whole dual. I’m saying 25-7 with UW winning at 184, but I don’t see a lot of bonus points, and this pretty much maxes out UW’s margin of victory, so don’t be surprised if it’s a bit closer.
But no matter what happens in the dual, you should consider giving this meet a shot (at least the first hour if you’re moving on to OSU/Minnesota). There are likely All-Americans going at five of the first six weights. None of them of boring. And a couple—Byrd and Hamiti, in particular—are don’t-look-away types willing to stay in the center of the mat against anybody.
Maryland Terrapins at #16 Rutgers Scarlet Knights, Saturday at 1PM on the Big Ten Network
HWAHSQB: Seriously, BTN? You’re broadcasting this turd of a dual from two teams that are barely in the B1G, one of which barely has a wrestling team??? Ugh, you suck.
Anywho, there are a couple of good matchups at 184 and 197, where suprise, surprise! Rutgers are the favorite. At 184, #8 John Poznanski takes on #16 Kyle Cochran and at 197, #12 Greg Bulsak (great name for a big wrestler) and #30 Jaron Smith square off. This will end up somewhere around 35-3 Red Armor Guys.
You watching this?
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Heck yeah, wrestling
I can’t stomach this
I don’t watch wrestling, but I hope both teams have fun
#2 Iowa Hawkeyes at #11 Oklahoma State (in Arlington, Texas), Saturday at 8PM on Flowrestling
Atinat: All Friday, I will be driving down to Texas to attend this event. Originally, it was #1 Iowa vs #3 Oklahoma State, alongside Team USA vs Team Iran in the Texas Rangers Globe Life Field. A rise by Penn State, an injury to AJ Ferrari, losses for Okie Lite in three of the last four duals (including to two Iowa teams), and visa issues (and cowardice) preventing Iran from making the trip have changed this from the greatest regular season event of the year to... well I think still that but less so. Team Iran has been replaced by a rag-tag group of outsiders, notably including such former D1 wrestlers as Darian Cruz (PR) and Mitch Finesilver (IL). The US women’s team was scheduled to do battle with Mongolia, who is one of the premier women’s wrestling countries, but that was also changed last minute, mostly replaced by Canadian wrestlers. But the main card, Iowa vs Oklahoma State, remains unchanged.
The biggest question for both teams at 125 is not whether their guy can win, but whether they wrestle. Drake Ayala and Trevor Mastrogiovanni have both missed some time due to injury, but both guys are on the probables alongside their backups. Also, if they both go, it should be a lot of fun! The marquee matchup definitely comes at 133, though, where #3 Austin DeSanto takes on #2 Daton Fix. Fix has beaten DeSanto in their two prior matchups, first a 2-0 decision and then a 3-2 decision in last year’s NCAA semifinals. Has DeSanto taken that next step? He looked good against RBY, so hopefully he can do that again. But, you know, finish shots. At 141, Iowa is heavily favored thanks to #2 Jaydin Eierman, who wrestles #21 Carter Young. 149 is another tossup, as Iowa sends out #10 Max Murin and Okie State has #13 Kaden Gfeller. Our final lightweight matchup is #12 Kaleb Young against #18 Wyatt Sheets. Young has beaten Sheets twice in three tries, most recently at last year’s NCAAs. Anyone who says Oklahoma State doesn’t have a chance isn’t looking at this closely. They could totally take four of the first five here. That said, they probably won’t, so assuming starters, I’ll say 10-6 Iowa, with losses at 125 and 133, a major decision for Eierman and wins elsewhere.
NCAA semifinal rematch/potential preview
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Iowa is a big favorite on the backside, starting with #5 Alex Marinelli facing off with # Travis Wittlake. Don’t be fooled by how close their rankings are, though; Marinelli should be a big favorite here. He won a close match in Gallagher-Iba two years ago. Second-ranked Michael Kemerer is a big favorite over #10 Dustin Plott, and could look for bonus points. The Cowboys’ only favorite on the backside is at 184 pounds, where they have #11 Dakota Geer against Iowa’s #15 Abe Assad. No Ferrari for OSU has meant junior Gavin Stika thus far, and he’ll see #4 Jacob Warner. Iowa has another fourth-ranekd guy in Tony Cassioppi against #31 Luke Serber (or Austin Harris) at heavyweight. I have Iowa winning this set 14-3, and the dual 24-9. There’s definitely a path for the Cowboys, though, who would need wins at 125, 133, 149, 157, 165, and 184, or five of those six and to not give up bonus points.
Hopefully this is a ton of fun live. The only way you can watch this is by paying Flowrestling for a subscription or buying tickets to the event. On the freestyle side, we’ve lost some fun matches, but Gilman-Cruz should be fun, and it’ll be cool to see guys like James Green and Jordan Burroughs and Kyle Snyder live no matter who they’re teching. Likewise for the women’s side, though I am a little upset a match didn’t get lined up for hopefully-future-Hawkeye Kennedy Blades, a high school senior who finished second at the team trials last year. Also, there will be a Greco-Roman match which features G’Angelo Hancock. I’ll be sure to document the event in the comments.
The home team has won each of the last five in this series
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The "home" team (OSU)
The road team (Iowa)
Illinois at #12 Nebraska Cornhuskers, Sunday at 11AM on the Big Ten Network
HWAHSQB: Nebraska is good and Illinois is just ok. This won’t be close, but there are some compelling matchups nonetheless. Luffman and Lance at HWT should be good. They split two very close matches last year. Bubba Wilson is the long lanky type of wrestler that Danny Braunagel struggles with. Can Wilson pick up another upset? Zac Braunagel and Taylor Venz should be good, but the marquise match is two of may favorite wrestlers to watch at 141, with Dylan Duncan and Chad Red, ranked 4 and 10 respectively. I’m not sure Duncan is quite ready for this calibre of opponent, but it should be a good show regardless. This one will probably be 26-10 Cornhuskers.
#15 Michigan State at #3 Michigan, Sunday at 11AM on BTN+
Kind of...: If you’re a novice, this will be a good opportunity to learn how much unlike team sports wrestling is. #15 over #3 in hoops? No big deal. #15 over #3 in wrestling? No chance. MSU’s path to the titanic upset—133, 157, 165, 197, and, oh shit, that’s only four weights—is pinhole wide, and, honestly, the Spartans will be lucky to split those. It seems like Cameron Caffey has been “close” his entire career (114-33 career record, never an All-American), but this really should be his time to break through. At 157, Chase Saldate has a win over Brock Mauller, and has a puncher’s chance at making All-American. Rayvon Foley is 22-2, but there are a lot of empty calories in that record. He has the talent to do some damage in March, and a win over Dylan Ragusin would really help him come seeding time. If MSU is going to finish top 20, Layne Malczewski (184) and Caleb Fish (165) will need to scores some points, so check out how they fare Sunday against favored opponents Myles and Cam Amine, respectively
Indiana at #8 Ohio State, Sunday at 12PM on BTN+
Kind of...: OSU is going to roll, AND they’ll probably be holding some guys out after the showdown with Minnesota Friday night. Consider this an opportunity to scout Indiana a bit. At 133, Brock Hudkins is having himself a nice year, and is a good story. He made the blood round as a frosh back in 2017, but has had an injury-plagued last couple of years. But he’s 9-1 this year and ranked #10 and can boast of a win over Rayvon Foley. He probably won’t make All-American, but he’ll be in the mix at the NCAAs. Donnell Washington beat Carter Starocci last year at 174, which probably created too much hype. But he’s at 184 this year and having a fine season, ranked #17 with a 17-3 record. He’s not going to beat Kaleb Romero. But every year, somebody who slides down to the 20-24 range in NCAA seeding does a little damage. Getting the 8 and 9 (or 7 and 10) guys the first two rounds can work better than a 16/17 matchup with #1 waiting in the second round. Keep an eye on Washington. If he’s a 23-seed in March, don’t be stunned if he makes the quarters.
Northern Illinois at Northwestern, Sunday at 2PM on BTN+
Kind of...: Laugh if you want, but this is better than bullshit Super Bowl pregame pieces. Northern Illinois isn’t going to do a lot of damage at the NCAAs, but Izzak Olejnik (165) is legit, and Brit Wilson (184) did finish 6th last year. NIU is probably favored at 174, too, so if Northwestern rests anybody and/or there’s an upset at the lower weights (141 would be the best bet), it could get interesting. But NW is almost certainly winning the dual.