Michigan comes into the RAC one match up in the loss column on Rutgers. A win for Michigan keeps them in 3rd place in the B1G and cruising towards the bowl championship series. A Rutgers win upsets the B1G apple cart, especially if Penn State rolls Ohio State, Rutgers could jump up to 4th or 3rd depending on their performance. Having the match at the RAC is a significant home mat advantage. Jersey wrestling fans have always been passionate but the success Rutgers is enjoying has allowed the fans to channel past disappointment into vocal support during matches. The RAC is in the top 5 list of best places to watch a match. The fans are the 11th man and the RU wrestlers love their fans. (Every wrestler that I’ve talked to thinks that they have the best fans in the country.)
Michigan is banged up and unsettled at a couple of weights. Mahomes (165) injury defaulted out of his match on Sunday and Huntly (197) missed the Penn State match on Sunday and 141lbs. The two highly ranked wrestlers hold a significant amount of preview points. I’m going with best lineups, excluding injuries, for the preview.
125lbs Conor Youtsey (M) vs. #20 Sean McCabe (R). McCabe is better but can he be bonus point better? Bonus here might make a difference in the dual not to mention B1G seeding.
133lbs #12 Rossi Bruno (M) vs. #18 Anthony Giraldo (R). Bruno was just handled on the road by PSU ‘s Conaway who hasn’t separated himself like that against lower ranked competition this season. Bruno is favored but at the RAC it’s close to a toss up. Slight edge Bruno.
141lbs George Fisher/Zac Hall (M) vs. #5 Anthony Ashnault (R). Shnaulty looked better at Princeton than he has in a while. RU needs him to come up big bonus here. Michigan needs Fisher/Hall to slow it down and keep Ashnault off his attacks or at least frustrated a bit. The call: Shnaulty gets 4 or 5 bonus points.
149lbs #6 Alec Pantaleo (M) vs. #21 Tyson Dippery (R). This is a big test for Dippery. Pantaleo is a stud that needs to bounce back from being man handled by Retherford. Edge goes to Pantaleo but if Michigan isn’t healthy Blue needs bonus from Pantaleo, can Dip stop that? I’m not sure.
157lbs #9 Brian Murphy vs. #16 Richie Lewis (R). Yet another highly ranked Michigan wrestler bouncing back from a beating at not so Happy Valley. The team will get to shake the jits off from the Penn State loss against Maryland before heading to the RAC Sunday. I think Murphy has too many attack angles for Lewis to keep pace. Blue needs Murphy to open it up especially if their line up is shy a starter or two. Lewis has had some big wins this season. Can he pull off a Tyler Berger type upset?
165lbs Garrett Sutton (M) vs. #6 Anthony Perrotti (R). Perrotti seems to feed off the crowd more than any other Scarlet knight wrestler. The coaches have been encouraging him to keep up the scoring for 7 minutes and not shutting down. They need bonus points from Perrotti to get a team win. I think that he gets at least 4 team points.
174lbs #13 Davonte Mahomes? Aaron Calderon (M) vs. #18 Phil Bakuckas (R). Will Mahomes be back in the line up? If yes will he be 100%? If not, this becomes a toss up. Michigan is on a road trip and RU is the 2nd match. Will they rest up Mahomes against Maryland knowing that the Rutgers match is more important to the final standings? Bakuckas has a much better chance against Calderon. If Bakuckas gets a win here it’s hard to imagine Michigan getting the dual victory.
184lbs #10 Domenic Abounader (M) vs. #19 Nick Gravina (R). Tough match to figure out. Abounader is good and has a variety of angle of attacks. A very physical Gabe Dean dominated him at the Cliff Keen in December. Can a very physical Gravina change the tone of the match like he didn’t with Dudley at the Garden back in November? The edge is clearly with Abounader but if Rutgers scouts the Dean match well it could come down to last points scored.
197lbs #6 Max Huntley (M) vs. Hayden Hrymack (R). Will Huntley be back in the line up? He’s a tough matchup for Hrymack. Hrymack needs to limit bonus points.
285lbs #4 Adam Coon(M) vs. #10 Billy Smith (R). While these guys are fairly close in rankings I think that they are at different levels, Coon is a legitimate title contender. If it comes down the heavies Smith needs to be carful about getting caught with his arms too wide on his high crotch shot. Coon’s Greco background gives him a throwers chance at 6 team points every match.
I have picked the national championship team correctly for the last 3 years.