Wrestling Preview: No. 2 Penn State Hosts No. 3 Ohio State in the Bryce Jordan Center

By Rob Dougherty on February 14, 2020 at 8:00 am
Luke Pletcher will look to lead Ohio State their first dual win over Penn State since 2015.
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

No. 2 Penn State (10-2, 7-1 B1G) will ditch Rec Hall for a day to take on No. 3 Ohio State (10-3, 6-2 B1G) at the Bryce Jordan Center on Saturday night. The dual will begin at 7:30 p.m. EST and will be broadcast live on the Big Ten Network. This version of the Penn State and Ohio State rivalry is not going to feature as many prominent bouts as it has in the past, but the dual should be tightly contested between the two teams.

No. 2 PSU vs. No. 3 OSU Matches
Weight Penn State Ohio State
125 pounds Brandon Meredith (12-11) Malik Heinselman (14-13) or Dylan Koontz (12-9)
133 pounds No. 2 Roman Bravo-Young (15-1) Jordan Decatur (11-7)
141 pounds No. 2 Nick Lee (16-0) No. 1 Luke Pletcher (23-0)
149 pounds No. 17 Jarod Verkleeren (14-5) or Luke Gardner (6-2) No. 1 Sammy Sasso (21-2)
157 pounds Brady Berge (1-0) or Bo Pipher (9-11) Quinn Kinner (14-5) or Elijah Cleary (13-10)
165 pounds No. 1 Vincenzo Joseph (11-0) No. 16 Ethan Smith (15-10)
174 pounds No. 2 Mark Hall (18-1) No. 7 Kaleb Romero (15-4)
184 pounds No. 6 Aaron Brooks (10-1) No. 12 Rocky Jordan (25-6)
197 pounds No. 17 Shakur Rasheed (4-4) No. 1 Kollin Moore (23-0)
285 pounds No. 15 Seth Nevills (12-2) Gary Traub (19-6)

The marquee match of the evening is going to be No. 2 Nick Lee versus No. 1 Luke Pletcher at 141 pounds. These two have separated themselves from the field throughout the season, and now it's time for them to finally sort things out on the mat.

There are a lot of factors that are going to dictate who wins this match. Ultimately I think it is going to boil down between who controls the center and whether Lee can efficiently get to Pletcher's legs and finish. At this weight, Pletcher is shorter than a lot of competitors, which gives his opponents a small window to shoot through. Pletcher has been very good at getting in tight and finishing his opportunities. However, Lee has improved his finishing and is really picking his spots well.

My prediction is Nick Lee is going to win, and I have a feeling he could open this match up a bit. I know how good Pletcher has been, but it just feels like it's Lee's time. I'm picking Lee to win 7-3. 

Ohio State has two other No. 1 wrestlers in Sammy Sasso and Kollin Moore. No. 17 Jarod Verkleeren is ranked for the first time in his career but will have to prove he deserves that ranking against Nazareth High School's Sasso. No. 17 Shakur Rasheed will take on Moore, and honestly, it's tough to see a way for Rasheed to win this one.

No. 2 Mark Hall will look to pick up a top-ten win over No. 7 Kaleb Romero. Considering how lopsided this dual is with both teams having clear advantages at most of the weights, this is one Hall is going to need to win. No. 1 Vincenzo Joseph is in a similar boat against No. 16 Ethan Smith. It is probably not necessary that they get bonus points in these matches, but it would go a long way in the dual if they did.

No. 6 Aaron Brooks and No. 12 Rocky Jordan will be a battle of two freshmen standouts in the Big Ten. Jordan has already beaten No. 11 Taylor Venz (Nebraska) this season, and this match should have some fireworks. This one could be huge for Big Ten seeding, and if Brooks wins he can probably lock up the 1-seed.

At 133 pounds, No. 2 Roman Bravo-Young will take on Jordan Decatur. Bravo-Young gave No. 1 Seth Gross (Wisconsin) a heck of a match last week, and he will be looking to build on that here. Decatur is talented and should be an All-American contender during his career. This season has been a tough one for the true freshman though, and he may have a tough time keeping it close against Bravo-Young.

No. 15 Seth Nevills is going to take on "Gas Tank" Gary Traub. Traub has become an internet darling because he has a ridiculously high motor for a heavyweight. Traub is not the most skillful or even the most powerful, but he does not have a quit button. Nevills is going to have to give it his all here, or risk being caught off-guard and fall in upset fashion. 

Brandon Meredith will take on either Malik Heinselman or Dylan Koontz at 125 pounds. Penn State will be hoping that Brady Berge is finally back against Ohio State at 157 pounds. 

Prediction - Penn State 22, Ohio State 11 

The swing match 141 pounds is going to dictate a lot of this dual. If Ohio State wins it, they'll be in a position to potentially pull the upset if they can hold regular decisions at 133, 165 and 174. They'll have the opportunity for some upsets at 184 and 285, so momentum could be key. I think Penn State has more paths to victory though, so I'm picking the Nittany Lions to win their final Big Ten dual of the season.