With the college season winding down and only two weeks left, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty. That means a matchup between two Big Ten rivals that have gone back-and-forth in dual action and at the conference tournament. Not only do they share a border, but Ohio State and Penn State also account for each and every NCAA team title since the 2011 season. With one of the most anticipated matches of the year taking place at 141 lbs and four wrestlers currently ranked number one in the nation slated to compete, this has to be the dual of the week.
Second-ranked Penn State will use this opportunity to break out their big arena, the Bryce Jordan Center, rather than the intimate confines of Rec Hall. The Nittany Lions, coached by Cael Sanderson, come into this match winners of their last three matches after losing to Iowa on the last day of January. Overall, Penn State is 10-2 and they find themselves in a rare position, the underdog. During Sanderson’s tenure, Penn State has typically been considered the favorite to capture the NCAA team title. This year they’ll need to chase down a tough Iowa team. Before worrying about the Hawkeyes and the postseason, the Nittany Lions will need to get through an Ohio State team that has is quite dangerous. Though Penn State has won the last four meetings, they are more vulnerable this year.
Number six Ohio State comes into State College with a 10-3 record. The Buckeyes were victorious last weekend over Northwestern, but fell in dramatic fashion to Nebraska on Sunday the 2nd. Like Penn State, Ohio State can be beaten in dual competition, but they are a team that will thrive in a tournament setting. Having three number-one ranked wrestlers will do that. Head Coach Tom Ryan’s side will need to get significant contributions in the postseason from the remainder of their lineup, if another team trophy is in the works.
Here is a weight-by-weight breakdown of the action that will take place on Saturday evening. TOM has provided predictions for all ten weights, while WrestleStat’s projections for the dual have also been included.
125 - Malik Heinselman/Dylan Koontz (Ohio State) vs. Brandon Meredith (Penn State)
It’s mid-February and the Buckeyes are still trying to sort out the 125 lb weight class. 2019 NCAA qualifier Malik Heinselman has started for the season, but has struggled since the calendar turned to 2020. Heinselman has lost six of seven duals since the start of January and was not in the starting lineup last weekend against Northwestern. Instead, he went to the Greyhound Open and came away with the tournament championship and bonus points in three of his four matches. Is that enough to propel him back to the level we saw last season when he went 24-11 as a true freshman? With Malik out of the lineup on Sunday, it was Dylan Koontz who got the nod versus Northwestern. It was only Dylan’s second weigh-in of the year at 125 lbs. Koontz was entered in the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational at 133 lbs and responded with a sixth-place showing. Dylan went on to acquit himself well in his dual debut at 125 pounds by limiting #11 Michael DeAugustino (Northwestern) to a one-point decision.
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