#12 Minnesota at #16 Nebraska, Friday, January 13th at 8PM on the Big Ten Network
Kind of...: A couple of teams who have taken a small step back from last, but who could compete for a top 10 finish nationally with some improvement. Wrestlestat foresees an 18-12 Husker victory. If Patrick McKee doesn’t go for Minnesota at 125, it might be worse. Of course, they predict for Gopher and current Husker Boo Dryden to defeat Aaron Nagao at 133, and I’m not so sure about that. I do agree that you shouldn’t expect too may bonus points.
The marquee matchup by rankings is at 141: #5 Brock Hardy vs. #11 Jake Bergeland. Assuming they start at 125, the first bout after intermission, 165, could be key, with Bubba Wilson every so slightly favored over Andrew Sparks. 184 (Lenny Pinto vs. Isaiah Salazar) and 197 (Silias Allred vs. Michial Foy) are also effectively tossups. Wrestlestat goes with Salazar and Allred, but I’ll take Pinto and Foy. That’s a wash team-wise, but I’m taking Nagao at 133, which would make it 15-15 tie, which is boring. So, let’s say Blockus finds his way to an MD at 149, and Minnesota takes it 16-15.
#6 Northwestern at #2 Iowa, Friday, January 13th at 8PM on ESPNU
Atinat: Iowa has already been put to the test twice this year, surviving #3 Iowa State and #22 Illinois in two of their last four dual meets. Can Northwestern get over that hump and give Iowa their second dual loss in the last four years? They’ve got five top-ten wrestlers, but three of them (#3 DeAugustino, #10 Tal-Shahar, and #4 Davison) are heavy underdogs to their Iowa opponents (#1 Lee, #2 Woods, and #3 Cassioppi). Similarly, #5 Yahya Thomas is 0-3 all-time, and 0-2 last year, vs #4 Max Murin, and #9 Trevor Chumbley has had a great season thus far but is far from a safe bet against Cobe Siebrecht.
If Iowa is fully healthy, I would only favor the Wildcats at 133 and 157 pounds. However, Iowa is not likely to be fully healthy. Real Woods did not wrestle last weekend, and Siebrecht and Kennedy only wrestled once each. Teske wrestled once, while Schreiver wrestled once at 133 and once at 141. My prediction is 24-9, with bonus points from Lee, Assad, and Cassioppi, and losses by Teske (133), Schriever (141), and Siebrecht.
Kind of...: Be very, very careful, Iowa.
#4 Michigan at #29 Michigan State, Friday, January 13th at 5:30PM on BTN+
Atinat: For team score, there isn’t much to speculate about here. Michigan is a complete team, with eight ranked wrestlers and five in the top ten. They are going to be dominant Friday over the Spartans, just as they will be over several good Big Ten teams. As for ranked matches to watch, Michigan State has five ranked guys, and four of them have ranked counterparts from Ann Arbor. 125 is a tossup between #24 Kurt McHenry and #25 Tristan Lujan, and 133 and 184 could generously be called as much with Michigan sporting #5 Dylan Ragusin and #9 Matt Finesilver against #11 Rayvon Foley and #17 Layne Malczewski. The Wolverines have the heavy favorite at 157, where #8 Will Lewan wrestles #23 Chase Saldate.
Michigan also has heavy favorites at 141, 149, and heavyweight, where their three ranked guys will see unranked opponents. Michigan State has Cam Caffey, the only ranked wrestler at 197 between the two. Neither team has a ranked wrestler at 174. For Michigan State to win this dual, they would need wins at 125, 133, 157, and 197, plus upsets at two of 141, 149, and 184. Not happening. 28-6 Michigan.
#19 Rutgers at Indiana, Friday, January 13th at 6PM on BTN+
Atinat: Indiana’s “upset” win over Maryland may have brought a spark to the team, but remember: they’re still Indiana. Still, this projects to be a fairly close dual. Each team has five ranked guys, and we’ll get ranked matchups at 133 and 285 pounds. Obviously my gut tells me that Rutgers will prevail here, but there definitely exists a path to victory for the Hoosiers.
Illinois: Lucas Byrd (133, #10), Danny Pucino (141, #32), Michael Carr (157, #19), Danny Braunagel (165, #11), Edmond Ruth (174, #10), Dylan Connell (184, #29), Zac Braunagel (197, #12)
Purdue: Matt Ramos (125, #9), Parker Filius (141, #12), Kendall Coleman (157, #3)
Michigan State at #12 Minnesota, Sunday, January 15th at 7PM on the Big Ten Network
Kind of...: Gotta think Minnesota might rest a guy or two who went against Nebraska on Friday, but this still should be an easy Gopher win. Rayvon Foley is favored for Sparty at 133, so a good test for Nagao, Minnesota’s promising youngster. Caleb Fish/Andrew Sparks should be worthwhile at 165. So too will Isaiah Salzar/Layne Malczewski at 184. Sparty’s upset chances probably ride on sweeping those three, getting the expected Cam Caffey win at 197, and finding an upset and win over Gopher backup somewhere along the line. Even so, the best bonus opportunity would seem to be Bailee O’Reilly at 174. I’ll say 22-9 Gophers.
#19 Rutgers at #8 Ohio State, Sunday, January 15th at 12PM on BTN+
Atinat: The big news around the Rutgers wrestling program is the dismissal of Sammy Alvarez, a 2020 NWCA all-American who is now in the transfer portal. But I don’t think it changes the layout of this team very much. Joey Olivieri has had his redshirt pulled for the second year in a row, and the three-time New Jersey state champ and 2022 national qualifier has a ton of upside. I don’t think he’s quite where Alvarez is at right now (which is probably why he was redshirting), but Alvarez hasn’t wrestled into February since 2020. Olivieri provides stability in the lineup. As to how much he brings on the mat, he’ll have a good first test in #16 Dylan D’Emilio.
That’s one of five ranked matchups on Sunday, as each Rutgers ranked wrestler is matched with a higher ranked opponent from Ohio State (except #14 Heilmann, who faces #15 Mendez). Needless to say, Rutgers doesn’t have a chance in this one. In fact, on paper, they’d get shut out. I’ll say Peterson and Olivieri get wins, and Ohio State wins 30-6.
#6 Northwestern at #16 Nebraska, Sunday, January 15th at 2PM on BTN+
Atinat: Which Northwestern dual is closer this weekend; vs Iowa, or vs Nebraska? I don’t think 2-0 or 0-2 is out of the question for the Wildcats this weekend, though either would take a big upset. This dual brings us ranked matches at 125, 141, 157, 165, 174, and 197. Additionally, Northwestern has ranked guys at 133 and 149, and Nebraska has Lenny Pinto at #10 at 184 pounds. I have this as an 18-17 Northwestern victory, but it’s going to hinge on bonus points, of course, and two toss-up matches, in my mind. The first big one is Maxx Mayfield vs Bubba Wilson at 165, and the other is Andrew Davison and Silas Allred at 197. Is Silas Allred the most Nebraska name possible? Anyways, Nebraska needs to win both of those to have a chance, and then win the bonus point battle. That’s not impossible, though, with strong favorites at 141, 157, and 174.
#17 Wisconsin at #4 Michigan, Sunday, January 15th at 4PM on BTN+
Kind of…: Wisconsin’s only hope is if Austin Gomez goes at 149, so, let’s make if fun and say he does. In that case, this might be the best, most back-and-forth dual of the weekend. Eric Barnett should start UW off well, but be balanced out by Michigan’s Dylan Ragusin at 133. Joey Zargo is Wrestlemat’s choice at 141, but with his current form, I’m giving it to Cole Mattin. If he goes, Gomez would be favored over Chance Lamer. However, Lamer beat Paniro Johnson, who beat Gomez, so who know if Gomez wrestles or not. Again, let’s say he does, and he ties it at 6 with a win. Will Lewan will beat Garrett Model to send Michigan into intermission (assuming they start at 125) up 9-6. That sets up the bout of the night: #5 Dean Hamiti agaisnt #6 Cameron Amine. Amine won the lone matchup thus far last March in the consolation bracket at the NCAAs, but I’m saying Hamiti here, which would tie it at 9. Unfortunately, UW’s weaknesses at 174 and 184 might end this earlier than hoped for as Tyler Dow and Josh Otto probably can’t stand up to Max Maylor and Matt Finesilver. Give Finesilver an MD, and the Wolverines are up 16-9. Braxton Amos should beat Bobby Striggow pretty easily, maybe even an MD, but Mason Parris will be there to close the door. Trent Hillger is always game, but Parris might get a bonus point. Let’s say 20-12 Wolverines.
Maryland faces #26 Oklahoma, Ohio, Campbell, and Virginia, Friday and Saturday, January 13th and 14th, at 11:30AM, 1PM, 1PM, and 2:30PM, in that order, I promise
Atinat: Jesus, hungry enough Maryland? Some people use non-cons as a chance to buff up against weak foes, but not the Terps! No, they schedule four opponents in two days. This is apparently a part of the Virginia Duals, which is a multi-level dual-hosting event. This is the 42nd year for the duals, which were first won by NC State back in 1981 and now host three high school and two college divisions, and will also include Kent State, Navy, and South Dakota State. It’s Maryland’s sixth trip to the event.