Wrestling Preview: Penn State Reschedules Dual Against Wisconsin

By Rob Dougherty on February 2, 2021 at 10:05 am
Wisconsin head coach Chris Bono
Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen, Iowa City Press-Citizen via Imagn Content Services, LLC
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No. 3 Penn State (2-0, 2-0 Big Ten) has rescheduled a dual against the Wisconsin Badgers (1-3, 1-3 Big Ten). The match will be wrestled on Tuesday evening, February 2. The dual will be broadcast on BTN+, getting underway at 5:00. Here are some projected matches based on Penn State's lineups this past weekend: 

Weight Penn State Wisconsin
125 (no one) Eric Barnett (2-2)
133 No. 3 Roman Bravo-Young (2-0) Kyle Burwick (2-2)
141 No. 2 Nick Lee (2-2) Trey Escobar (1-1)
149 No. 20 Jarod Verkleeren (0-1) or Terrell Barraclough (1-1) Drew Scharenbrock (2-2)
157 No. 9 Brady Berge (2-0) Garrett Model (3-1)
165 No. 6 Joe Lee (2-0) Joshua Otto (0-3)
174 No. 8 Carter Starocci (2-1) Jared Krattiger (2-2)
184 No. 3 Aaron Brooks (2-0) No. 10 Chris Weiler (3-1)
197 Levko Higgins (0-1) or Donovon Ball (0-1) Andrew Salemme (0-4)
285 No. 8 Seth Nevills (2-0) No. 11 Trent Hillger (2-2)

Wisconsin's lineup is going through some growing pains this season, as star 165-pounder Evan Wick has not yet wrestled. The loss of former NCAA champion Seth Gross was a heavy blow to a thin lineup as well. The Badgers sport two ranked wrestlers, No. 10 Chris Weiler at 184 pounds and No. 11 Trent Hillger at heavyweight. For the Badgers to pull an upset, they will need wins from these two to give them a chance. 

Penn State had an uneven performance in their tri-dual in Evanston, but things went much better in the second dual against Northwestern after some struggles vs. Indiana. It's important to note though that the Nittany Lions were not at full strength. They did not have a 125-pounder cleared to wrestle. Michael Beard and Greg Kerkvliet were also out. 

Match of the Dual

Heavyweight: No. 8 Seth Nevills vs. No. 11 Trent Hillger

This dual could have quite a few lopsided matches, but if you're going to tune in, a match between Seth Nevills and Trent Hillger should be a treat. Nevills is a very talented heavyweight, and had he not gotten injured at the 2020 Big Ten Championships, could have become an NCAA qualifier as a true freshman. 

Hillger has been a heavyweight mainstay in the Big Ten for a few years now. He was a 2019 NCAA All-American and finished in fourth at the 2020 Big Ten Championships. However, Hillger has lost some close matches early this season, falling to both Christian Lance (Nebraska) and Luke Luffman (Illinois). These two are not bad losses by any means, but can Hillger get back to being an All-American in 2021? 

This is only one of two ranked matches, and easily the most unpredictable. Nevills will have to step his game up after facing two of the lesser heavyweights in the Big Ten this past weekend in Northwestern and Indiana. Hillger can be one of the best heavyweights in the country when he's on his game, and this should be a tough match for both competitors. 

Will We See Beau Bartlett? 

I left Beau Bartlett out of my projected matchups because he didn't wrestle in either of the Northwestern or Indiana duals. He did go 3-0 in the extra matches, and scored one pin. Bartlett competed at 141 pounds, so I'm leaving him out of a potential 149-pound start. Cael Sanderson is always one for surprises, and Bartlett could easily end up competing at either weight on Tuesday, and it would not be a surprise. 

Prediction

Penn State 28, Wisconsin 9 - This prediction is assuming a Penn State forfeit at 125 pounds again. I think later on at 197 and 285 the Badgers can pick up some wins as well. If Beard and Kerkvliet go though, then this scoreline could get ugly. This Wisconsin team should really not threaten Penn State at any weight after 125 until 149 or maybe 157. Scharenbrock and Model are solid, but I'd pick Berge and Verkleeren to win those matches.

After that, it's hard to see where Penn State slips up again until 197 if Beard doesn't wrestle. It is hard to discount No. 10 Chris Weiler at 184, but No. 3 Aaron Brooks has looked so good since coming into the PSU lineup, and I have a hard time picking against Brooks in any match at this point. Brooks also wrestled very well last weekend. 

I am going to pick Seth Nevills to beat Trent Hillger. I expect it to be a close match, but Nevills' top game is vicious, and I think can be the difference if he gets a takedown. I am expecting a low scoring bout between these two. 

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