The No. 23 North Dakota State Bison will travel east to face their first top 10 opponent of the year when the match up with No. 10 Virginia Cavilers. Virginia has a solid team up and down their line-up and are looking for a top 10 finish at this year’s NCAA tournament. The Bison will be looking for the upset and they have a team that is capable. The issue with the Bison is that they are a young squad. That sometimes can have an impact in big duals. This will be close and the Bison will need an upset or some bonus points to pull it off. Virginia on the other hand will most likely need bonus from their heavy hitters if they are to avoid the upset.
When: 11/15/2014 – 12:00 PM EST.
Where: Charlottesville, Va.
Projected Line-up (Rankings are based on The Open Mat 11/11/14 NCAA Rankings)
125: #14 Josh Rodriguez or Tirso Lara (North Dakota State) vs. Will Mason or Nick Hermann (Virginia)
133: Justin Scherkenbach or Kyle Gliva (North Dakota State) vs. #14 George DiCamillo (Virginia)
141: #18 Mitch Bengtson or Clay Cathey (North Dakota State) vs. #12 Joe Spisak (Virginia)
149: Clay Ream (North Dakota State) vs. #10 Guy Sako or TJ Miller (Virginia)
157: Steven Keogh (North Dakota State) vs. Andrew Atkinson (Virginia)
165: Matthew Gray or Trevor Chavez (North Dakota State) vs. #2 Nick Sulzer (Virginia)
174: #11 Kurtis Julson (North Dakota State) vs. #12 Blaise Butler (Virginia)
184: #12 Hayden Zillmer (North Dakota State) vs. James Suvak or Billy Coggins (Virginia)
197: Tyler Lehmann or Tommy Petersen (North Dakota State) vs. #15 Zach Nye (Virginia)
285: #14 Evan Knutson (North Dakota State) vs. Derek Papagianopoulos (Virginia)
The Bison have yet to have Rodriguez wrestle but he is expected to go this weekend. He is a bit of a unknown to some people but is coming off a redshirt season where he posted a 17-0 record with 10 majors, a technical fall and two pins. It is assumed that Will Mason will get the start for the Cavaliers. They have several options but he seems for now to be the main guy. Mason is 6-1 on the season. A win here could propel Mason into the rankings, while a loss would be an eye opener for Rodriguez. Expect to see Rodriguez push the paced and attempt to open the match up.
Pick: Rodriguez by decision
DiCamillo should be the heavy favorite when he faces Scherkenbach or Gliva. After missing last season with an injury, DiCamillo has looked good to start the season going 6-0. Last weekend he won the Hokie Open. Scherkenbach is also off to a decent start with a 10-3 record. Gliva placed one spot above his teammate at the Daktronics Open and is 4-2. No matter who gets the nod for the Bison, DiCamillo will be favored and will be looking for bonus points.
Pick: DiCamillo by Major Decision
This could end up being one of the better matches of the night when Bengtson and Spisak take to the mat. Bengtson comes in with an 8-1 record and his only loss was in the finals of the Bison when he dropped a match to No. 4 Nick Dardanes (Minnesota). So far five of his eight wins have been by fall or technical fall. Spisak is 5-0 and just won the Hokie Open. He is the veteran and Bengtson is the new kid on the block which makes this an interesting bout. It will give us an early season insight as to where both are at.
Pick: Spisak by Decision
Sako is favored in his match against Ream. This could be the first match of the season for Sako who is a two-time NCAA qualifier. Last season he went 19-5 and was the seventh seed at nationals despite placing third in the ACC tournament. Ream is 7-4 thus far this year. Ream redshirted last season and went 14-7 wrestling at 157 pounds. Of those 14 wins 12 of them he won by bonus. He is winning matches he is expected too but has yet to secure a signature win. If Sako does not go here this match moves towards a toss-up.
Pick: Sako by Decision
There is no clear favorite in the match between Keogh and Atkinson. Keogh who transferred in from Minnesota is 4-2 on the year placing fifth at the Daktronics. Atkinson is 5-2 on the season and recently placed fifth at the Hokie open. The two seem to be having similar seasons with similar results against comparative competition. Another thing that makes this match interesting is the potential impact this match could have on the final result of the dual.
Pick: Keogh by Decision
Nick Sulzer could give the Cavilers a boost in his match if he can secure bonus points. On paper this appears to be more likely than not. He is one of the best in the country and in 2-0 with two major decisions. Gray comes into the match with a 4-2 record and has yet to give up bonus. He also has not faced someone like Sulzer.
Pick: Sulzer by Major Decision
This should be considered the match of the night when the No. 11 and No. 12 wrestlers in the nation meet. Julson dropped down this year after a strong season up at 184 pounds. He is 4-0 on the season and won the Daktronics Open but he did sit out the Bison. Butler sat out the Hokie open but did secure two wins in duals against George Mason and VMI. In those two matches he had a pin and a major decision. Both should be well rested heading into this one. This match will most likely be low scoring and a win by Butler could put Virginia in the driver’s seat.
Pick: Julson by Decision
Zillmer moves up to 184 pounds this year and already has appeared in the finals in two tournaments, winning one and taking second in the other. Last week he secured a win over No. 14 Brett Pfarr (Minnesota) but the week prior he dropped a match to No. 7 Blake Stauffer (Arizona State). Suvak was third at the Hokie Open and is 4-1 on the season. Coggins is 3-0 on the season. He appears to have dropped out of the Hokie after a first round win. Zillmer will be favored against both wrestlers.
Pick: Zillmer by Decision
Nye will need to open up in this one and look for some bonus points. He is 4-0 so far and like many wrestlers early in the season he won his first two matches at the Hokie and forfeited the rest. It will be interesting to see who gets the call for the Bison. Petersen was third at the Bison but has not shown he can get the win against a top 20 guy yet. With Lehmann we are not sure what we will get. He can be crazy good and the next minute leave you wondering what is going on. On paper the best chance for the Bison to get the upset would come from Lehmann.
Pick: Nye by Decision
Virginia has three options at least to send out against Knutson. This is being written under the assumption that Papagianopoulos gets the call. He is 1-1 so far this year. He lost in the first round of the Hokie Open and did not wrestle again. He did secure a pin in a dual against VMI though. Knutson is 4-0 after winning the Daktronics Open. He sat out the Bison Open. NDSU sat several of their starters for that tournament. No matter who the Cavilers send to the mat expect Knutson to have the upper hand.
Pick: Knutson by Decision
Final Score Prediction
North Dakota State: 15
The 141 pound bout could be a huge swing in this dual.