#4 Michigan Wolverines at #1 Penn State Nittany Lions, Friday at 6PM on the Big Ten Network
Kind of...: Okay, so maybe Intermat’s #4 dual meet ranking is a bit high. It’s #9 at Wrestlestat, and neither has the Wolverines in the top 10 in tournament scoring. So, yes, Michigan probably isn’t quite this good. Still doesn’t mean it won’t be impressive when PSU just mows them down. Jack Medley should stake Michigan to a 3-0 lead, and Cam Amine should beat Alex Facundo at 165. That might be it. The only other two weights where Michigan is not a decided underdog are 157 (Levi Haines vs. Will Lewan, and I like Haines), and 275, which is easily the most anticipated dual of night. Frankly, it might be the single most anticipated bout of the B1G season as it’s the only meeting of wrestlers currently ranked 1-2 at their weight (Nebraska doesn’t face PSU, so no Mikey Labs/Starocci action until B1G tournament).
In this post-Gable Steveson world, Mason Parris seemed like the heir to the throne. Off to a 7-0 start last year, he could boast a 47-match winning streak against people not named Gable Steveson. But then he lost to Greg Kerkvliet in the PSU/Michigan dual. Then again at the B1G tournament. And again at the NCAAs. So, now Kerkvliet is ranked #1 and looks to be the HWT favorite (though whether he has solved Cassioppi is a different question). Parris is 17-0 and has bonus points in 70% of his matches this year. Kerkvliet is 7-0 and has bonus points in 5 of the 6 matches that weren’t forfeits. Both seem to be on their game, though Parris has faced the better competition so far. Still, I like Kerkvliet to push the streak to four in a row over Parris, wrapping up a dominant 29-6 win for the Nittany Lions.
Atinat: I don’t have much to add on the dual itself, but I wanted to talk a little about Levi Haines. You see, Levi Haines still has his redshirt. A new rule from the NCAA allows true freshman to wrestle five attached events under redshirt, and this would be, by my count, event number three for Haines (apparently the Collegiate Duals just counted as one event). So, is there a chance that redshirt goes back on? Probably not.
Listen, there’s arguments on both sides of this debate. A more cautious approach would be to keep the redshirt on and let Haines wrestle a full four years with a little bit more coaching and training from the Penn State program. Penn State is very likely going to win a team title with or without Haines, and that may not be the case four years from now in what would be Haines’s redshirt senior year. His ceiling will be higher next year, as will his floor, probably.
Of course, on the other side, Haines is pretty freaking good right now. And sometimes, you just gotta let a guy cook. There was another true freshman a few years back who wore a redshirt until the new year, and while the public debated, his coach decided to let him cook. Flash forward, and that kid is going for his fourth national title. Is Levi Haines going to win a title this year? Probably not. But it isn’t impossible. 157 isn’t that strong of a weight. He wrestles for the best coach in the country. I’m also convinced Penn State is also the beneficiary of some devil magic.
Now, I’m pretty sure Cael Sanderson doesn’t read what I write. I’m not going to make an argument one way or the other, because it doesn’t really matter. But if I was going to wager a guess, I would say that redshirt is coming off. Haines is just too good, and too much of an improvement, to stay out of the lineup. He’s an all-American threat, and he’s an added cushion to Penn State’s title odds. I would love it if they would just keep the damn rabbit in the hat, but it’s not happening. Welcome to the Big Ten, kid.
#10 Nebraska Cornhuskers at #2 Iowa Hawkeyes, Friday at 8PM on the Big Ten Network
Atinat: Another week, another “Could Iowa lose??” And another no. Nebraska is a good team, seriously. They’re the tournament #5 (and I believe the Flowrestling tournament #2, tied with Iowa, but I can’t be bothered to fight a paywall for a ranking). But they’re definitely a step behind Iowa, especially in a dual format. But we have to talk about this dual anyways, right?
If the dual starts at 125, it’s going to start with bonus points. Yes, Liam Cronin is having a great season, working his way up to third-ranked at the weight. But he’s 0-3 all time against Spencer, twice having been pinned and once losing by tech fall. The real question here is 4, 5, or 6 points for the Hawkeye, and I’m picking 6. Similarly, the question at 133 is not victory. Both Teske and Schreiver are on the probables for Iowa, and both are heavy favorites against Dryden or the newly-available Kyle Burwick. So, the question is who goes (for both sides), and how much does the Hawkeye win by. Gimmie Teske over Burwick by regular decision (8-2).
The first big match comes at 141, where #2 Real Woods faces #5 Brock Hardy. Woods came out like a lightning bolt last week, though he slowed down in the second and third periods during his tech fall victory. Still, I’m gonna take him to win by 2 or 3 here, as I just think Hardy has another step to go before he’s a title contender. Iowa is a heavy favorite at 149, where #7 Max Murin sees either Dayne Morton or Blake Cushing, both of whom are unranked.
Nebraska is favored for the first time at 157, where they have top-ranked Peyton Robb and the Hawkeyes sport #21 Cobe Siebrecht. I don’t think Siebrecht has enough for Robb (yet), so gimme the Husker 5-2 here. Patrick Kennedy should be a big favorite against Bubba Wilson at 165, but Nebraska has another favorite at 174 where they get Mikey Labriola against Nelson Brands. Again, give me the Husker by regular decision.
Iowa is favored in the final three matches, with #8 Abe Assad favored over #16 Lenny Pinto, #8 Jacob Warner the favorite against #22 Silas Allred, and #3 Tony Cassioppi set to destroy all in his path.
So, do you see a path to victory for Nebraska? Cause I don’t. Even if they limit bonus points and win the tossups, I still have it as 18-12 Iowa. In reality, I have it a lot more lopsided, with Nebraska only finding the wins at 157 and 174 and Iowa racking up bonus points at 125, 149, 165, and 285. Gimmie the Hawkeyes 32-6.
#11 Minnesota Gophers at #22 Indiana Hoosiers, Friday at 5PM on BTN+
HWAHSQB:If the Gophers have their crap together, this one should get ugly. The Hoosiers will be favored at HWT and.......yeah, HWT. The two marquis matchups I’ll be watching are at 157 and 174. At 157, the dark red team sends #16 Brayton Lee against #19 Derek Gilcher on the crimson red team. I’ve got Lee in this one, but it should be close. At 174, we get #15 Bailee Reilly against #18 Donnell Washington for Indiana. Give me Washington here. I really enjoy watching him wrestle as he gets after his offense pretty consistently. Washington is the only active wrestler who can claim a win over #1 and returning national champ Carter Starocci. So Indiana wins at HWT and 174 and your final score is 30-6 or something.
Michigan State at #26 Rutgers Scarlet Knights, Friday at 6PM on BTN+
Kind of...: This would barely count as an upset, but I’m taking Sparty in this matchup. Chase Saldate (157), Caleb Fish (165) and Cameron Caffey (197) are all clear favorites, with the latter two live bonus point opportunities. Rayvon Foley should win at 133, and Rutgers doesn’t seem to have any clear bonus point shots. Rutgers would have to sweep 125, 174, 184, and 275 to win the dual. They’re favored at each weight, but I like the Spartans to win at least one.
#7 Ohio State at #23 Maryland Terrapins, Friday at 6PM on BTN+
Atinat: It is very likely that Ohio State is victorious. But it is not certain. I would rate 125, 157, 197, and 285 as tossups. Then Maryland needs two upsets, because they are not going to keep pace with bonus points. 141, 149, and 174 are all possibilities, but all are pretty low chances. So, is Maryland going to pull off what would be a massive upset? No. In fact, I have this as something like 31-6 Ohio State. But there should be a bunch of close matches, and crazier things have happened.
#17 Illinois Fighting Illini at #15 Northwestern Wildcats, Friday at 7PM on BTN+
HWAHSQB: We’ve got two teams heading in opposite directions here. After looking good early, Northwestern climbed all the way #6 in the ranks before a rough weekend getting smoked by Iowa and Nebraska sent them tumbling to 15. Illinois was 24 after some mediocre early performances, but a good showing in a close loss to Iowa and win over Wisconsin has Illinois up to 17.
Ok, last time out I said exactly how Illinois could possibly beat the stinking badgers, but didn’t have the cajones to predict a win. This week, I am going to step out there and say my Illini are going to beat Evanston’s B1G squad.
The first matchup of ranked guys has #10 Lucas Byrd against #13 Chris Cannon. Although that would seem like a tossup, Byrd has faced down the barrel of Cannon four times and won all four without Cannon scoring a single takedown. Next up at 141, we get #10 Frankie Tal-Shahar against #14 Danny Pucino. Another potential tossup, but Pucino has been on a tear lately and he beat the Wildcat 6-2 in their only previous meeting so I’ll pick another Illini win. At 157, #20 Mikey Carr (hopefully) will go against #14 Trevor Chumbley. This is really a tossup, but I’ll give the Wildcats the edge here as Illinois goes with either Carr, who has only wrestled once this year or someone else who will lose. Here’s an interesting tidbit looking at Intermat rankings at 157. The B1G occupies every spot between 14-22. Yep, 8 in a row. Another ranked matchup at 165 as Danny Braunagel (14) takes on Maxx Mayfield (22) Whenever I see Maxx with two XXes, it perturbs me. Anyway, Little Brauny beat Mayfield 8-1 last year and he’ll win again. Edmond Ruth (10) will win against Troy Fisher (19) at 174, probably 3-1 or 4-1, because that is simply what Mr. Ruth does. Our final matchup of ranked guys is at 197 where Zac Braunagel (11) takes on Andrew Davison (29) Big Brauny will win this one like he did last year when both guys wrestled at 184. Both of these guys have a brother on the team, so that’s kind of fun.
At the other weights, jNU will win handily at 125, 149, and HWT and probably gets about four bonus across those three. Illinois will pick up an easy-ish win at 184. That gives Illinois 18 and Northwestern 16. Mark it down in Sharpie.
Purdue Boilermakers at #18 Wisconsin Badgers, Friday at 7PM on BTN+
Kind of...: Given what awaits the Badgers Sunday—see below—they had better make hay Friday night. And they should. The premier match might be the first one: Eric Barnett vs. Matt Ramos. IF Ramos wins, Purdue will probably have the lead at intermission as Parker Filius and Kendall Coleman will be favored at 141 and 157, respectively. However, I think Barnett will bounce back and knock off Ramos. Further, you should expect at least a TF out of Austin Gomez at 149 and Taylor LaMont should be good for an MD at 133, so let’s, call it 12-6 Badgers at the break.
I think Dean Hamiti will work out some disappointment over losing to Cameron Amine and register a pin. 174 and 184 are UW’s weak spots, but Purdue is just as bad, if not worse, at those weights. Let’s just say the teams split those two uninspiring weights and it’s 21-9 heading into 197. Braxton Amos and Trent Hillger should both be good for bonus points, thought that’s always a brave prediction for Amos, which would get us a 29-9 Badger win. Works for me.
#2 Iowa at #18 Wisconsin, Sunday at 2PM on the Big Ten Network
Kind of...: A decent gambling prop would be if UW ends up outscoring their opponents cumulatively this weekend. I fully expect Iowa to make the Badgers look like Purdue.
Eric Barnett is a top 10 wrestler, but so are two other guys Spencer Lee pinned recently. Whether it’s Schriever or Teske, I think Iowa grabs 3 points at 133, and 4 at 141 (maybe 5). Austin Gomez should get the Badgers on the board at 149, but expect Cole Siebrecht to push the Iowa lead to 16-3 at intermission. Patrick Kennedy has plenty of talented, but Hamiti should grab three for the Badgers at 165...and that will probably be it. Brands should win at 174, and Assad will probably grab bonus points at 184. At 197 it’s conceivable that Warner will nod off late in the third, but so might Amos, so go with the higher ranked guy. And Hillger isn’t in Cassioppi’s class, so let’s call it 31-6 Iowa overall. Blech.
Michigan State at #1 Penn State, Sunday at 12PM on BTN+
Atinat: I don’t have to write anything here to tell you this will be a blowout, right? Tristan Lujan is a big favorite at 125, but he’s the only favorite for the Spartans. Chase Saldate and Caleb Fish could be generously rated as tossups against Levi Haines and Alex Facundo, but victories would be for pride’s sake only. Nobody else on that lineup has a chance, so I’m gonna say 35-3 Penn State. Don’t tune in.
#4 Michigan at #26 Rutgers, Sunday at 1PM on BTN+
Atinat: The question Sunday is how does Michigan respond to their shellacking on Friday? This could be a shutout, or it could be kind of close. I can’t see Rutgers coming out on top, but they could maybe win 5 out of 10 matches. Dean Peterson beat Jack Medley at Midlands this year, and has a chance to repeat that success to start this dual. Joe Heilmann has a puncher’s chance against Dylan Ragusin at 133, though I wouldn’t favor him. Joey Olivieri is the most solid favorite for the Scarlet Knights against Cole Mattin at 141 pounds. If Rutgers wins their first three matches, anything could happen. However, Rutgers doesn’t really have another competitive match until 184, where #13 Brian Saldano would face #9 Matt Finesilver. Finally, at 197, Billy Janzer is favorite in an unranked bout.
Michigan has bonus point favorites at 165 and 285, and I don’t expect them to lose every tossup, so give me a final score of 28-6, Wolverines. That ought to take some of the stink off of Friday night.
Purdue at #11 Minnesota, Sunday at 1PM on BTN+
Atinat: Okay, I’m not gonna waste your time talking about team scores. There’s three big matches here. #5 Pat McKee vs #10 Matt Ramos at 125 should be fun. The two have never met, but have pretty similar records against common opponents (which is to say, good vs anyone not named Spencer Lee). #11 Jake Bergeland meets #15 Parker Filius at 141 pounds, and that will be their first meeting as well. Both are looking for a spark to their season. Finally, #3 Kendall Coleman and #16 Brayton Lee meet at 157 pounds. Don’t let the rankings disparity fool you, though; Lee has beaten Coleman each of the last two seasons. Will he make it three in a row?
#23 Maryland Terrapins at #17 Illinois Fighting Illini, Sunday at 2PM on BTN+
HWAHSQB: Maryland is a much improved team, but not good enough to win this Sunday. These teams don’t make a particularly interesting matchup as Maryland is best at three of Illinois weakest weights. The one matchup I’ll be watching is at 197. #11 Zac Braunagel will face off against #16 Jaxon Smith, who stuck Braunagel on his back at the Tiger Style Invite early on this year. I don’t think he’ll catch Brauny sleeping again. Maryland will win handily at 125, 149, and HWT and lose the rest of them and probably give up around 5 bonus, so call it 25-10.
Will any underdogs prove victorious?
This poll is closed
Yes, Michigan (vs Penn State)
Yes, Nebraska (vs Iowa)
Yes, Maryland (vs anyone)
Someone else I’ll talk about in the comment section