#8 Nebraska Cornhuskers at #5 Ohio State, Friday at 6PM on the Big Ten Network
Kind of:...If you just want to watch a close dual between two good team, this is your best bet of the weekend. Wrestlestat gives it to OSU 16-15 with only one bonus point being scored (ironically enough, by Sammy Sasso). Hopefully all the starters go. Ohio State is a clear favorite at 133, 149, 165, and HWT. They’ll probably grab at least one bonus point. Nebraska is a clear favorite at 141, 157, and, to a lesser extent, 197. Silas Allred should beat Gavin Hoffman, but if you tell me one of these seven favorites are going to lose, that’s my pick.
That leaves 125, 174, and 184. So, if you want max drama, hope they either start at 133, or they start at 125 and Cronin beats Heinselman. Cronin is 2-1 H2H, but all meetings were pre-pandemic. At 174, #2 Mikey Labriola is a slight favorite over #6 Ethan Smith, and has the 2-1 H2H advantage. However the last two meetings both went to SV. At 184, #5 Kaleb Romero is favored over #15 Lenny Pinto (who is #7 in Wrestlestat), but, as they’ve never met, Pinto might be positioned to give Romero problems. But, then again, Romero might win comfortably. If he does, the Huskers need to win the other two and find bonus points. I don’t see it happening. I think the wheel of “really good at 125, just not Spencer Lee” lands on Heinselman, and OSU wins 23-13.
#12 Michigan Wolverines at #2 Iowa Hawkeyes, Friday at 8PM on the Big Ten Network
Atinat: Michigan’s high-water mark this season was #3, before picking up losses to Penn State, Ohio State, and Oklahoma State. Can they stay unbeaten against teams without State in their name? Looking at the probables, Iowa has their full lineup minus Abe Assad at 184, who has been absent since giving up a pin vs Wisconsin. Michigan also has their full starters, but with alternates possible at 141, 149, and 165. On paper, this looks pretty close. But we know how good Michigan could be, and the question is can they wrestle to potential.
When Michigan lost to Oklahoma State, they had backups take losses at 141, 149, 165, and 197. However, the only Michigan starter I would favor at those weights against Iowa is Cam Amine against Patrick Kennedy. Amine did lose to Alex Facundo, who Kennedy beat, but he beat Dean Hamiti, who Kennedy lost to. Naturally, that’s an important matchup for postseason seedings. Other big matchups include 157, where #14 Cobe Siebrecht prepares for #9 Will Lewan, and 285, where #1 Mason Parris and #3 Tony Cassioppi look forward to their fourth career meeting. I like Siebrecht to pull the upset, but I’ve yet to see anything from Tony that tells me he can beat Mason Parris.
Elsewhere, expect Iowa to get bonus points at 125 and 141, and possibly at 174 and 197. Michigan will be looking for bonus points at 184, and Parris has pinned Cassioppi twice before. I’m gonna say Iowa wins this 25-9, but that’s pretty optimistic on the Iowa side. If Iowa doesn’t come into this prepared, and Michigan does, they could be in for a shock. But given how Michigan has been wrestling against top opponents, I don’t think that happens.
#9 Minnesota Gophers at #19 Wisconsin Badgers, Saturday at 1PM on the Big Ten Network
Kind of…: Wrestlestat has this going 18-14 for Minnesota. As they tab McKee at 125, you might conclude UW is likely to win if Barnett takes that bout, but, honestly, Minnesota has plenty of paths to victory even if that happens. For one, they list Gomez as going at 149, which maybe could happen, but you certainly can’t bank on it given his injury history and that he didn’t leave the mat under his own power his last time out. Minnesota is clear favorites at 133 and 141, and, despite Brayton Lee’s down year, the smart money is on him to beat Garrett Model. So, unless UW draws an inside straight, they’ll be down at intermission, and their heavier weights have been an issue all year. Not Dean Hamiti, of course. He should get bonus points. But O’Reilly and Salazar are virtual locks at 174 and 184. Amos is 3-0 vs. Foy at 197, but all have been close. Trent Hillger should win comfortable at HWT for UW, but it’s likely to be too little, too late.
Add it up and it’s Minnesota leading 4-3 in weights with a clear favorites (but 5-2 if Gomez doesn’t go), meaning UW needs 1) to win two of 125, 157, and 197, and 2) to have more bonus points. If Gomez doesn’t go, they need to win all the tossups. I’ll say Gomez does go and Minnesota wins 23-12.
#14 Northwestern Wildcats at Purdue Boilermakers, Sunday at 11AM on the Big Ten Network
HWAHSQB: This one will be another L for PU as they stink and the Wildcats are good. There will be three matches that are worth tuning in for though. #3 ranked Matt Ramos for the choo choo trains against #8 Michael DeAugustino at 125 kicks things off with a great match among top contenders for 2nd place at 125# this year. At 157, Kendall Coleman already beat Trevor Chumbley earlier this year, but it was close. Thus ends the list of matches where Boilermakers will be favored. 141 gives us #8 Frankie Tal Shahar against #13 Parker Fillius which should be a good one. Those two have in common that they both lost to Danny Pucino of Illinois, but are now both ranked higher than Pucino. Call this one a 28-6 laugher for Evanston’s B1G Team.
#22 Indiana Hoosiers at #27 Michigan State, Friday at 5:30PM on BTN+
Atinat: It feels weird to view this as a ranked matchup. Neither of these teams has a ton of recent success, and yet both took a good step forward this year. Accordingly, this is an important dual for measuring their respective seasons. So who comes out on top? Well Wrestlestat is pretty confident that the Spartans have the better team, projecting a comfortable 25-7 victory. But let’s look a little closer.
Tristan Lujan is 2-0 against Jacob Moran, and I don’t expect that to change, so give that one to the Spartans. Rayvon Foley has to be favored against Henry Porter, so call it 6-0. Cayden Rooks did beat Jordan Hamdan at the dual meet last year in their only meeting, so I’ll favor Rooks to get the Hoosiers on the board, and his brother Graham to tie the dual against Peyton Omania, who frankly has had a terrible season. Derek Gilcher is 1-1 against Chase Saldate, winning their most recent matchup at the Reno TOC by a score of 8-2. However, Saldate is unbeaten since that tournament, collecting wins over Will Lewan and Brayton Lee, so maybe that was a fluke. Give me Gilcher for now, just to keep the score interesting. That puts Indiana up 9-6 after 5.
Caleb Fish is a big favorite over Nick South in my mind, so that’ll even things at 9. Donnell Washington should get bonus points over Ceasar Garza, but Layne Malczewski can return the favor against whoever Indiana sends out at 184. Caffey is a heavy favorite against Nick Willham to put Michigan State up 16-13 going to heavyweight, but I would take Jacob Bullock to defeat Ryan Vasbinder for the second time this season and tie the dual at 16.
So, there’s a few tossups, and bonus points (and match points) will be important. Give me Michigan State 17-16, but probably actually more like 20-13. Ha, now I get two guesses.
#1 Penn State Nittany Lions at #23 Rutgers Scarlet Knights, Friday at 6PM on BTN+
Purdue at #28 Maryland Terrapins, Friday at 6PM on BTN+
HWAHSQB: Ok. The movable object takes on the resistable force Friday night as 0-6 Purdue takes on 0-6 Maryland. Neither of these teams are winning Sunday so the Friday night lights will shine on the battle for ninth, err 13th place in the B1G. Maryland has had two starters out of the lineup and their health probably decides who wins this dual. With Jaxon Smith and Dominic Solis in the lineup, I would expect each team to win 5 matches, but I think Maryland has better chances for bonus. Call it 17-16 if Maryland has a full lineup and 23-10 Boilermakers if they don’t.
#14 Northwestern at Northern Illinois, Friday at 7PM on ESPN+
Atinat: God, wrestle a real team, Northwestern. The Wildcats only have two non-conference duals this year: their 20-13 win over #41 (Wrestlestat) Virginia, and this, against #48 Northern Illinois. Penn State wrestled five teams ranked higher than forty in their OOC, Iowa wrestled three and will add another in Okie State next week, Michigan wrestled five, and Ohio State wrestled six and will add another in Cornell next week. I get it, this is ultimately a tournament sport and Northwestern filled their schedule with tournaments, but god, imagine being a Northwestern wrestling fan. Anyways, kitties over puppers this time.
#22 Indiana at #12 Michigan, Sunday at 11AM on BTN+
Atinat: Oh God. Okay let’s look for a good match… nope, nothing here. Anything that might be competitive is between lower ranked guys, and there’s quite a few matches that will be boring but dominant victories. Wrestlestat says 26-6, Atinat says don’t waste your time.
#28 Maryland at #1 Penn State, Sunday at 12PM on BTN+
HWAHSQB: If you are the kind of person who likes to watch catastrophe movies, you’ll probably be interested in this dual. Otherwise, I suggest seeking entertainment elsewhere. Braxton Brown can win at 125 and other than that, the Terps are getting massacred. 39-3 PSU.
#23 Rutgers at #8 Nebraska, Sunday at 12PM on BTN+
Atinat: Another uncompetitive dual, but I think this one will at least have some fun matches. I think Dean Peterson is an exciting young wrestler who has maybe a 1 in 5 chance against Liam Cronin. I want to see Joey Olivieri wrestle Brock Hardy, even if I expect the Husker to win 9 out of 10 times. The last time Jackson Turley wrestled Mikey Labriola, the Husker won 11-9, so that could be fun. Nebraska’s young upperweights Lenny Pinto and Silas Allred are fun to watch, and will get challenges from Brian Soldano and Billy Janzer (though both Huskers should win comfortably).
This isn’t the worst dual to tune into on what is surely a boring sports day. If you’re cheering for Nebraska, just sit back and enjoy the fun, and if you’re cheering for Rutgers (or a good dual), just hope it stays competitive and you can score an upset or two.
#18 Illinois Fighting Illini at #3 Iowa State, Sunday at 7PM on ESPN+
HWAHSQB: If they start at 125, this could look like a deceptively close dual as 125 is a tossup and Lucas Byrd and Danny Pucino will be heavily favored at 133 and 141. It’s a kind of odd matchup as both teams have plenty of ranked guys, but not at the same weights. Hopefully, we get Mikey Carr back for this one, but even if we do, ISU has a much nicer Carr in #2 ranked David Carr at 165. Probably the biggest matchup of the day is at 197 where we get #5 Yonger Bastida for the Cyclones against Zac Braunagel who needs to bounce back from a tough weekend that caused him to fall from 12 to 19 in the rankings. Illinois will win 133, 141, 174, and maybe one 125 and 157 and fall to the Iowegians 22-13.