Penn State gets two ranked opponents fresh off their big win, Iowa hosts Wisconsin, and Michigan heads to Nebraska in this week’s BTN duals. Do Ohio State or Nebraska stand a chance against Penn State? Is Dean Hamiti-Marinelli gonna live up to the hype?
Rider at #17 Rutgers Scarlet Knights, Thursday at 6PM on BTN+
Atinat: This is a kind of odd dual. Rutgers is a massive favorite here. Rider has ranked wrestlers at 141 and... that’s it. And that guy gets SeaBass. Rider is 2-5 in duals this year, knocking off Northern Illinois and Michael Bloomsburg. I think Rider will win one (probably heavyweight), but more importantly I think you will not watch this or care. Rutgers might send some backups out there. Rider’s nickname is the Broncs, and their mascot looks like a douchy horse.
#8 Ohio State Buckeyes at #1 Penn State Nittany Lions, Friday at 6PM on the Big Ten Network
Atinat: Alright, Ohio State wrestled Iowa kind of well (21-12 loss) but wrestled Michigan worse (29-8). Do they have a chance here? Probably not, but let’s be real optimistic. 125 is something of a tossup, with #10 Malik Heinselman facing #6 Drew Hildebrandt. The next two should be bonus point victories for the Nittany Lions, and Ohio State would do well to limit it to a pair of major decisions against RBY and Nick Lee. Ohio State has the advantage at 149, though, with #2 Sammy Sasso drawing #18 Beau Bartlett. They met in a dual last year, and Bartlett was able to limit the NCAA finalist to a 5-3 decision, so Sasso is gonna have to turn it up to get bonus points. 157 is a toss-up between unranked guys, and Ohio State can get the win there, sp they could lead this one 10-8 at the break. Which probably isn’t enough, considering the heavyweights for Penn State.
Carson Kharchla, ranked fourth, can keep things going for Ohio State against #11 Brady Berge, and can probably find a major decision. So, if Ohio State is up 14-8 here, they just need one of the next four to force a tie. And to not give up bonus points. At 174, #7 Ethan Smith sees #1 Carter Starocci. 14-11. At 184, #6 Kaleb Romero faces #1 Aaron Brooks. I actually think this could be close. Brooks beat Amine by a takedown, and Romero lost in SV. Obviously Brooks until proven otherwise, but watch this one. Ohio State needs to not give up bonus points to Max Dean at 197. And at heavyweight, #13 Tate Orndorff needs to swing big against #5 Greg Kerkvliet. Kerkvliet’s upper body weakness was exposed against Cassioppi, and it’s a strength for Orndorff, but he’d have to get there first. So, could Ohio State win this? Sure, it’s possible. It would take a few huge victories though. I’m gonna say 24-11 Penn State.
How bad is it
This poll is closed
More than 13 points
Less than 13 points
#3 Michigan Wolverines at #12 Nebraska Cornhuskers, Friday at 8PM on the Big Ten Network
Atinat: This might be even more of a blowout then PSU-OSU. Michigan starts with two big advantages, with #1 Nick Suriano and #8 Dylan Ragusin both against unranked foes. I have the Wolverines up 10-0 here. Then, at 141, Stevan Micic is actually the underdog according to Intermat, who dropped him from fourth all the way to eleventh after his loss to Jake Bergeland last week. He faces #8 Chad Red, Jr, but I still think he’s victorious here. Nebraska can close the gap over the next two matches, with #8 Ridge Lovett facing an unranked Pat Nolan probably (Nolan has wrestled at three different weights this year), and #5 Peyton Robb a favorite over #13 Will Lewan. I have it 13-8 at the break.
The backside is where this gets interesting. Michigan could potentially sweep or lose 4 out of 5 here. Twelfth-ranked Cam Amine is a favorite over Bubba Wilson at 165, but then at 174, we get our match of the day. Intermat has Nebraska’s Mikey Labriola at five, and Michigan’s Logan Massa at 6. The two wrestled last year, with Labriola winning by major decision in the third-place match at Big Tens. I don’t think he can get another major, but I do think Labriola has to be favored here. Michigan is a favorite in the next match, with #2 Myles Amine facing #9 Taylor Venz at 184 pounds. Then, Nebraska has a big favorite in #3 Eric Schultz drawing #10 Pat Brucki. Finally, #3 Mason Parris ends things against #12 Christian Lance, and will look to do so in extraordinary fashion after losing his last two against ranked foes (#5 Kerkvliet and #1 Steveson). I have Michigan winning this dual 23-14, but it could be as bad as 29-7. Then again, Nebraska could steal victory by winning at 141 and 174, and getting bonus points when big favorites.
Who you got
This poll is closed
Michigan not so much
Michigan not so much indeed, go big corn
#16 Michigan State Spartans at Maryland Terrapins, Friday at 6PM on BTN+
Atinat: 197 has Jaron Smith (who just beat Pat Brucki) and Cam Caffey (who just beat [Norm MacDonald voice] the world). Outside of that, there are two types of matches: those where Michigan State is favored, and those where both wrestlers are not exactly NCAA qualifiers. Okay, and Malczewski wrestles Cochran. Gimmie Michigan State 30-6.
#11 Minnesota Gophers at Illinois Fighting Illini, Friday at 7PM on BTN+
HWAHSQB: Like Nern, many of the Gophers best guys are at weights where the Illini are weak. There is a clear favorite in 8 of the 10 matches. Lucas Byrd and Zac Braunagel will win for Illinois. McKee, Blockhus, Lee, O’Reilly, Foy, and our HWT OVERLORD will win for Minnesota and likely racking up a bunch of bonus points.
Two matches should be close and I think Illinois has the slight edge in both of these. Dylan Duncan is back for his second match against Jake Bergeland who punished another accomplished veteran All American coming back off a layoff in Stevan Micic. Danny Braunagel and Cael Carlson will scrap at 165. Both of these guys are on the bubble of NCAA qualification so this is an important match.
I think Minnesota will do something similar to Nern and win six matches, but get mucho bonus points and win 24-12.
#13 Wisconsin Badgers at #2 Iowa Hawkeyes, Saturday at 2:30PM on the Big Ten Network
Kind of...: Wisconsin has a nonzero chance of winning this dual, but it’s pretty damn slight. The road would involve bonus points at 125 from Eric Barnett (assuming Drake Ayala doesn’t go), Austin Gomez defeating Max Murin at 149, Dean Hamiti beating Alex Marinelli at 165, and a couple of upsets, with the likeliest being Garrett Model catching Kaleb Young napping at 157 and a re-invigorated Chris Weiler beat Abe Assad at 184. Or maybe Braxton Amos makes a leap and upsets Jacob Warner. But really, those six weights are the only chances at victories (sorry Trent Hillger, but it’s true), and UW would have to win five and avoid giving up bonus points (which will be tough at 133, 141, and 174).
Just as likely (ugh, likelier, probably) is Iowa winning eight or nine weights and rolling 35-7 or 38-4. But even if the dual meet gets ugly, you should watch for the matchups. If Ayala goes, 125 will be really interesting. Gomez/Murin at 149 is a showdown of guys who are having great years and are probably under-ranked right now. Model has been feisty at 157, and Young’s attention can wane.
But really, you want to watch 165. Hamiti is one of the best true frosh in the nation, but, even with his recent loss to Kharchla, Marinelli still poses a huge leap up in competition. Marinelli has given B1G wrestling fans several fantastic moments in his career. I wouldn’t expect Hamiti to try to resurrect Vincenzo Joseph’s willingness to go upper body mano-a-mano, there’s more than one way to have a fantastic bout, and you all should check it out.
Atinat: Marinelli-Hamiti is a HUGE upset watch. But it’s Marinelli’s last match in Carver, and I’m not super-super sold on Hamiti. I mean, I think he’s good, I think he’s probably an all-American and definitely at least a blood rounds guy, but he hasn’t beaten anyone in the top ten. I also think Hamiti really would have been advantaged to have this earlier in the year, but he’s undefeated in February so nobody is gonna sleep on him. Still, Marinelli lost to Kharchla (and a ton of other guys he shouldn’t have in his career), so it’s not like he’s invincible. I don’t expect Ayala to go, but we’ll have to wait and see there (edit: Ybarra is alone on the probables). This would be a huge match for him for seeding. I do not share HWAHSQB’s hype on Murin, so I have Gomez winning that one. I’m gonna say 31-3 Iowa. It’s senior night, and half this team qualifies for senior discounts.
#12 Nebraska at #1 Penn State, Sunday at 11AM on the Big Ten Network
Atinat: Penn State could build a big lead in the first two weights, which are Nebraska’s weakest. Our first ranked matchup comes at 141, where #8 Chad Red, Jr, meets #1 Nick Lee. Lee is 3-0 against Red, with two close victories and one major decision. Nebraska should get on the board at 149, where #8 Ridge Lovett faces #18 Beau Bartlett. They’re also favored at 157, where Penn State’s only unranked wrestler awaits fifth-ranked Peyton Robb. I have it 11-7 Penn State at the break.
Berge gets Bubba Wilson to start the back-half, and should win comfortably. Then, our match of the day is #1 Carter Starocci against #5 Mikey Labriola. Starocci won in sudden victory at Big Tens last year, and that’s their only career meeting, so this will be a good test to see if Starocci’s offense really is improved this year against top opponents (5 total points against Kemerer and Massa has me less than convinced thus far). Aaron Brooks has won his last three against #9 Taylor Venz, who he sees on Sunday. The only question here is if Brooks can find bonus points. Our second top-five matchup comes at 197 pounds, where #2 Max Dean suits up for the Nittany Lions and gets a shot at #3 Eric Schultz of the Cornpeople. Finally, it’s #5 Kerkvliet for Penn State and #12 Lance for Nebraska. Kerk majored Lance last year at Big Tens. I don’t have Nebraska getting a win in the back five, and losing this 27-7. Is there a path to victory? I suppose, but it’d require three big upsets in the last four weights. Penn State rolls.
#8 Ohio State at #17 Rutgers, Sunday at 11AM on BTN+
Atinat: (This should be on BTN). I counted fifteen ranked wrestlers in this one, including one at every weight. It starts with Ohio State’s #10 Malik Heinselman against #29 Dylan Shawver. Rutgers could take a lead at 133, where #18 Joey Olivieri gets an unranked foe and will look for bonus points. They’re also favored in the next one, where #3 SeaBass gets #20 Dylan D’Emilio, who he should major (2-0 all time, 19-3 total score). Ohio State is favored again at 149, where #2 Sammy Sasso gets #16 Mike Van Brill. Only #33 Jashon Hubbard for Ohio State is ranked at 157 pounds. I have this as Ohio State 9-8 at the break.
Ohio State is a big favorite at the next two, with #4 Kharchla and #7 Smith getting unranked opponents, and a pair of major decisions would nearly put this dual away. Our match of the dual comes at 184, though, where #6 Kaleb Romero suits up for the Buckeyes to wrestle #7 John Poznanski. Rutgers has the clear advantage at 197, where #6 Greg Bulsak sees #21 Gavin Hoffman. They would need quite the upset at 285, though, where the unranked Boone McDermott draws #13 Tate Orndorff. I have Romero over Poznanski, and Ohio State winning this dual 23-11. However, if Rutgers could flip 125 and 184, it would be knotted at 17.
Nuts or Knights?
This poll is closed
#11 Minnesota at Purdue Boilermakers, Sunday at 12PM on BTN+
Atinat: Damn, another close one. Why isn’t Purdue ranked? SEC bias, I’m sure. I mean, literally every full-time member of the SEC is ranked (Mizzou). Purdue is 9-4 on the season, but 8-0 against unranked opponents. Maybe this win will be enough. It starts with a fun match at 125, where #9 Pat McKee faces #15 Devin Schroder. #27 Jake Gliva faces #32 Matt Ramos at 133, and then #15 Jake Bergeland gets #30 Parker Filius at 141. Either team could sweep all three here, but I think 2-1 Minnesota is the most reasonable. The Gophers are favored in the next two, with Blockhus getting the unranked Trey Kruse and #4 Brayton Lee getting #9 Kendall Coleman in our match of the dual. I have Minnesota up 12-3 at the break, but it could totally be 9-6 Purdue, or even 12-3 if they get the big upset at 157.
Only #26 Cael Carlson of Minnesota is ranked at 165. 174 is an interesting one, with #19 Bailee O’Reilly facing #22 Gerrit Nijenhuis. Minnesota has the slight favorite again at 184, with #22 Isaiah Salazar drawing #30 Max Lyon. Both of those matchups should be rated tossups, but Purdue has an edge at 197, where #17 Thomas Penola gets #31 Michial Foy. Minnesota has Gable Steveson at heavyweight. So, I have this as 24-9 Minnesota. But, there are so many tossups that could go either way here. If Purdue can win the first three, 174, 184, and 197, they’d take the dual. That said, that’s a lot of upsets.
Indiana Hoosiers at Illinois, Sunday at 1PM on BTN+
HWAHSQB: Illinois better win this one, because if they don’t, they will be 0fer the B1G season. Indinia had Maryland on their docket, but no such luck for the Illini. There’s not a lot here for wrestling fans unless you root for one of these teams.
The two matches of note are Brock Hudkins and Lucas Byrd at 133. Hudkins is pretty dang good, but he isn’t in Byrd’s class and I think Byrd wins by 5 or so. If Donnell Washington is back healthy, he and Zac Braunagel should have a good go at 184. I think Donnell’s quickness will prove to much for Brauny, but he will keep it close.
I think they split the matches 5-5, but at least one of Danny Braunagel, Byrd, or Duncan will get a major for 16-15 squeaker.
Maryland at Northwestern Wildcats, Sunday at 2PM on BTN+
Atinat: Ew. Maryland is a favorite at 184, and 197 is a tossup, but the rest of this could be bad.