Wrestling Preview: No. 2 Penn State Visits No. 4 Wisconsin

By Rob Dougherty on February 7, 2020 at 8:13 am
Wisconsin wrestling
© Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

No. 2 Penn State (8-2, 5-1 B1G) will travel to Madison, Wisconsin to take on the No. 4 Badgers (10-3, 3-3 B1G) in a top-five showdown. The dual will be broadcast live on the Big Ten Network starting at 9 p.m. EST. This dual will feature some titanic match-ups, especially at 133 and 141 pounds. 

No. 2 PSU at No. 4 Wisconsin Match-ups
Weight Penn State Wisconsin
125 pounds Brandon Meredith (11-10) Eric Barnett (16-1)
133 pounds No. 2 Roman Bravo-Young (14-0) No. 1 Seth Gross (24-1)
141 pounds No. 2 Nick Lee (14-0) No. 7 Tristan Moran (17-2)
149 pounds Jarod Verkleeren (13-4) or Luke Gardner (6-1) No. 15 Cole Martin (11-7)
157 pounds Bo Pipher (9-10) or Brady Berge (1-0) Drew Scharenbrock (17-10)
165 pounds No. 1 Vincenzo Joseph (1-0) No. 3 Evan Wick (20-2)
174 pounds No. 2 Mark Hall (16-1) Jared Krattiger (7-12)
184 pounds No. 7 Aaron Brooks (7-1) Johnny Sebastian (10-3)
197 pounds No. 18 Shakur Rasheed (2-3) Taylor Watkins (5-13)
285 pounds No. 15 Seth Nevills (11-1) No. 5 Trent Hillger (18-3)

No. 2 Roman Bravo-Young was able to get a medical forfeit against No. 3 Austin Desanto (Iowa) last weekend, but we really did not get to see much of the match before the stoppage. He's got No. 1 Seth Gross on Friday in what should be the match of the dual. It could be questionable whether Bravo-Young deserves the No. 2 ranking on the back of a medical forfeit, but he can silence those doubters on Friday.

For Bravo-Young to win this match, he's going to have to do it on his feet. Gross' top game is smothering, and if Bravo-Young gets trapped underneath him it could be a very long night for the sophomore. Gross is 1-1 against Desanto on the year, and if Bravo-Young can find a way to pull off the upset, he will insert himself into the title conversation. For Penn State, that is what they will need from Bravo-Young in March.

At 141 pounds, No. 2 Nick Lee will take on No. 7 Tristan Moran in a rematch from last season. Moran won last season in sudden victory 12-10. Moran is a bit funky and that bit Lee last season. He was able to out-scramble Lee in a few different positions to win. Lee has not been getting in nearly as many of those types of situations this season, and Lee will be looking to come close to matching No. 1 Luke Pletcher's (Ohio State) major decision over Moran.

Lee also has another big match this weekend against No. 4 Mitch McKee (Minnesota) on Sunday afternoon. The Big Ten at 141 pounds is looking like a two horse race, for Lee to separate himself further from the pack, a 2-0 weekend with this schedule would silence any doubters. 

A match that has bizarrely not happened yet should take place on Friday when No. 1 Vincenzo Joseph takes on No. 3 Evan Wick. For two Big Ten wrestlers who have been at the top of the class for a few seasons at 165 pounds, it's weird they have not met. We should finally see this match though. Joseph is coming into this one after his first career win over No. 2 Alex Marinelli (Iowa) last weekend. 

Similarly to Joseph, Wick has been plagued by Marinelli, as he is 0-5 in his career against the Hawkeye. Joseph's win last weekend was huge for a variety of reasons, but most importantly, he can essentially lock up the No. 1 seed at Big Tens if he defeats Wick. 

The only other ranked match at this dual will be at heavyweight, where No. 15 Seth Nevills will face All-American sophomore No. 5 Trent Hillger. Nevills suffered his first loss of the season last week against No. 3 Tony Cassioppi (Iowa), and he faces a very difficult weekend with Hillger and No. 1 Gable Steveson (Minnesota) on Sunday. This is an opportunity for Nevills to show he's an All-American contender at heavyweight, but Hillger is a legitimate talent wrestling in his home arena. It's going to be difficult for Nevills. 

Projected Score Penn State 22, Wisconsin 12 - I think Penn State has the edge here because Wisconsin has weaknesses at 174, 184 and 197. The Nittany Lions should be able to run up the score there, and if they get wins at 141 and 165, this dual will ultimately not be very close. An upset at 125, 133 or 149 could make this dual a rout for Penn State. The key for Wisconsin will be limiting Penn State bonus points from 174-197, and to either pull off an upset or two. 

However, I'm picking Penn State because they simply just have more paths to victory than the Badgers. Make sure to tune in to BTN tonight to see the action!