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B1G Wrestling: It’s Time to Talk...

...about Penn State’s competition: History

Braeden Davis’s ascendance (and Tyler Kasak’s and Mitchell Mesenbrink’s) has put some records in Penn State’s sights.

We’ll do a much deeper dive later, like in the weeks leading up to the B1G and NCAA tournaments, when there are no results to report. However, it’s almost mid-February and PSU probably (actually I don’t think it’s close) has their best lineup ever.

The best performance for a PSU squad at nationals was 146.5 points in 2017. That’s the highest since Oklahoma State scored 153 in 2005, and the second highest since Iowa set the record in 1997 with 170. [146.5 is the 7th highest total ever. #1, #2, #3, #4, and #6 are Dan Gable Iowa teams.]

Going by present InterMat rankings, PSU is projected to score 142.5 points at the NCAAs. And that’s just placement and advancement points. So, basically, if PSU wrestles to seed (which, admittedly, will be hard), they’ll need 28 bonus points to break the record. This is no longer a fun hypothetical. It bears serious consideration, and we’ll provide that in the coming weeks.

LAST WEEK

Friday, Feb. 2

Penn State 28, Ohio State 9: I think even most Penn State fans acknowledge Braeden Davis was the beneficiary of a rather curious non-call at the end of the 125 match. But PSU won the tossups at 141, and 149, too, and found bonus points at 157, 197, and, quite impressively, 285. Nic Bouzakis was impressive for Ohio State at 133 and the Ryder Rogotzke hype train officially left the station with his pin of Bernie Truax at 184. But, as always, it’s Penn State’s world.

Michigan 24, Iowa 11: This was a disaster for Iowa. No other way to cut it. Drake Ayala lost in tiebreaks, Real Woods got majored (!!!), Jared Franek lost in tiebreaks, and Patrick Kennedy got majored. That’s four (then) top-5 wrestlers going down. It seems like this has to be the low point of Iowa’s season, except, well, Penn State is coming to town! Obviously a beautiful performance for Michigan, who now looks like the second best team in the conference.

Wisconsin 30, Northwestern 12: Dean Hamiti is really good. Trevor Chumbley is Northwestern’s only ray of light.

Minnesota 30, Maryland 6: Maryland didn’t roll out a full lineup, but Minnesota was winning this regardless, and may be rounding into form as a sneaky top 10 sleeper.

Michigan State 29, Illinois 10: We’ve already noted that Michigan State is a pretty good dual squad, but this is still a bad look for Illinois.

Sunday, Feb. 4

Ohio State 22, Rutgers 12: You have to applaud the Buckeyes for rolling out all of their starters, but...Nic Bouzakis, fresh off of defeating Aaron Nagao, lost to Dylan Shawver, and the Ryder Rogotzke hype train crashed into Brian Soldano, who pinned the true frosh. Three of OSU’s wins (174, 197, and 285) were by one or two points, so Rutgers actually could’ve taken the dual if, say, Jackson Turley and John Poznanski had not lost in minor upsets.

Nebraska 29, Illinois 9: Is Nebraska ashamed that they’re only one point better than Michigan State? Probably not. Four Huskers found bonus points, and Caleb Smith easily could have. If Jacob Van Dee can bounce back, Nebraska could be in the mix for 2nd at B1Gs.

Minnesota 39, Northwestern 0: Forfeit, three tech falls, and six decisions. Gophers weren’t messing around. Chumbley held Michael Blockhus to an 8-5 decision. Are we doing moral victories around here? Let’s move on.

Wisconsin 24, Purdue 15: Matt Ramos defeated Eric Barnett 4-1 in the 1 vs. 2 matchup at 125, so Purdue have that going for them. However, at 174 Max Maylor rebounded from deficits of 9-2 and 13-7 to grab a 19-16 victory in SV, keeping UW in the dual lead as action headed to the upper weights, where Wisconsin isn’t great. After eight matches it was 18-9, but a Ben Vanadia pin made it 18-15 Badgers. I think UW was looking at the win if it went to criteria (but might be wrong), but the HWT bout featured a matchup of 1-11 and 3-16 wrestlers, so anything was possible. However, Badger Gannon Rosenfeld, trailing 9-3, got a takedown and then sealed the dual with a second period pin.

Indiana 23, Michigan State 18: Easily the dual of the weekend. The dual started at 157, and MSU went pin, forfeit, upset (DJ Shannon over DJ Washington at 174), decision, to grab an 18-0 lead. At 197, Gabe Sollars grabbed a minor upset over #29 Kael Wisler to put Indiana on the board heading into intermission. After Nick Willham grabbed a tossup at HWT in tiebreaks, Michael Spangler pulled a minor upset of Tristan Lujan at 125, and it was 18-9 Spartans. Cayden Rooks then demolished Andy Hampton in a 19-3 TF, and the Hoosiers only trailed 18-14 with two matches left. At 141, Dan Fongaro earned a hard fought 6-4 decision over Andy Hampton in a matchup of two guys fighting for tourney spots, and the Hoosiers had pulled within one. At 149, #15 Graham Rooks was a clear favorite for Indiana, and he delivered a second period pin. Indiana runs off 23 straight points and earns the dual upset over a solid MSU bunch. I was watching during halftime of the UW/Purdue hoops game and it was a really cool moment. Congrats, Hoosiers!

THIS WEEK

Friday, Feb. 9

#8 Michigan @ #4 Nebraska (6:00 CST, BTN): The rankings are InterMat’s dual rankings. If we’re using tournament rankings, it would be #2 Michigan @ #9 Nebraska. So, yeah, two of the four teams in the mix for B1G runner-up. Currently: OSU > Michigan > Iowa > Nebraska. The Buckeyes miss Iowa and Nebraska so probably have second locked up in the dual standings. Which nobody cares about. Anyway...

WrestleStat says 16-16, but they give 125 to Caleb Smith over Michael DeAugustino, which would be an upset. Either way, great dual on paper. Going by InterMat, you’ve got top 10 showdowns at 141, 149, and 157. The upper weights look more predictable, so the tenor of the dual could be set before intermission (if they start at 125).

#1 Penn State @ #3 Iowa (8:00 CST, BTN): Not sure #3 hosting #1 could feel this anti-climatic, but 1) WrestleStat has Iowa at #9, which feels more appropriate, and 2) PSU is absolutely loaded (see above). Every bout worth watching is either “will Iowa wrestler x bounce back” or “see PSU wrestler dominate.” For the former, check out Braeden Davis/Drake Ayala (125) Beau Bartlett/Real Woods (141), and Levi Haines/Jared Franek (157). For the latter, well, you know the usual suspects. Really the only battle that doesn’t fit one of these categories is at 165, where 15-0 rsFR Mitchell Mesenbrink takes on 15-1 sophomore Mikey Caliendo, whose only loss is to David Carr. Should be a really fun showdown.

Let this sink in: WrestleStat is calling that for Caliendo, AND they’re predicting a 28-3 PSU dual win. Yes, it’s feasible that Iowa could get shut out at home.

#11 Minnesota @ Illinois (7:00, BTN+): WrestleState says 25-6 Gophers, but has Joles losing at 197 and Bennett Tabor beating Luke Luffman at 285. Not sure I’d predict either of those, but switch them both and it’s the same dual score. This won’t be in doubt.

Purdue @ Northwestern 7:00, BTN+): Two of the three B1G teams (sorry Illini) without a dual win, but Purdue is clearly better, as evidence by WrestleStat picking a 23-9 Boiler win. Joey Blaze/Trevor Chumbley is a worthwhile matchup at 157.

Sunday Feb. 11

#11 Minnesota @ Purdue (11:00 a.m., BTN+): Depending on his health, Patrick McKee has a shot at knocking off #1 Matt Ramos. Michael Blockhus could get a test from Joey Blaze at 157. And 165 is a tossup. Minnesota is favored everywhere else and should win relatively comfortably.

Indiana @ #6 Ohio State (11:00 a.m., BTN+): Indiana had the feel good win last week, which is nice, since the Hoosiers will struggle to find points here. Brayton Lee at 157 is the best bet. The REAL story here, though, is at 184, where brothers Roman and Ryder Rogotzke could meet up.

#28 Michigan State @ Maryland (Noon, no TV): Really interesting dual. WrestleStat goes 20-15 Sparty, but 285 is a tossup, so the dual should go down to the wire.

Illinois @ #23 Wisconsin (Noon, BTN+): Illinois has Purdue and Northwestern upcoming, so they have a shot at ripping off three straight dual wins. WrestleStat says 20-15 Illini, which, sadly, seems plausible. If the Badgers want to win the dual, they’ll need a victory at either 133, 197, or both.