This Friday Rutgers drives to Happy Valley to do battle B1G style. Rutgers just had a tight victory over Illinois. Penn State is coming off of a dominating matchup with Nebraska. Like last season Penn State has been prevailing even with shifting around the lineup a bit. Penn State is a juggernaut with at least 4 guys capable of being in the finals come March and the highest team bonus rate in the country. This dual to me is more about individual match ups. I’ve seen both these teams a couple of times this season. They are at different points in their program. Penn State is at the top of the heap and Rutgers is finally getting out from under. RU is starting to keep top talent home but steel sharpens steel. Rutgers needs more steel “workout partners” to get to the next level. The B1G is so tough and the separation is so significant that the difference between #1 and #10 might be bigger than #10 and #20.
I’ll list the possible matches in order of my confidence of the out come.
149lbs: #1 Zain Retherford (PSU) over #25 Anthony Giraldo (RU). Giraldo didn’t look like he had the will to win a close match against Barone for Illinois last weekend. How can he reset himself for a wrestler that makes you question your goals (Retherford). If I had to guess based on last weekend I think that Ken Theobold might get the nod. A quality kid but not ready to upset Retherford. Big bonus points for Spartacus, I think that he gets the fall against Giraldo. Theobold lost to Zain last year with a regular decision. Who has gotten better since then? Retherford by a major decision.
125lbs: #3 Nick Suriano (PSU) over Brandon Paetzell (RU). As a true freshman Suriano is on a roll and turning some heads that doubted him. Last year several national commentators doubted this guy coming into his true freshman campaign. I wasn’t one of them. Paetzell has just stepped into the starting roll for the Scarlet Knights and is doing well but he’s not ready to make this a competitive match.
141lbs: #6 Anthony Ashnault (RU) over #15 Jimmy Gulibon (PSU). Ashnault hasn’t been clicking on all cylinders this season but he has been very solid against lower and non-ranked foes. I used to think that Gulibon had a punches chance against anyone and that on any given day he could beat the top ranked guys. I don’t think that any more. This might be a close match but I think that Ashnault controls it the entire time.
285lbs: Nick Nevills (PSU) over Razohnn Gross (RU). Gross comes into the match riding a wave of excitement after his win propelled Rutgers over Illinois. Gross is fresh on the college wrestling mats off the RU football team for the last couple of years. Nevills is way a head of Gross in all areas of wrestling. I think that Nevills will get a quick lead but as Gross’s cardio starts to fail Nevills gets the fall.
157lbs: #1 Jason Nolf (PSU) over #14 John Van Brill (RU). I know that a lot of you think I’m crazy for having Nolf so low on my confidence list. I’m giving big move Van Brill a couple percent throwers chance here. I think that Nolf is too technically solid to get caught for something big. I think that Nolf is the most athletic wrestler at the D1 level right now. This guy is doing moves that almost no one has ever done. Sometimes the refs don’t even know what they are looking at. Van Brill is used to coming back from deficits and this kid has throws to go with a mental toughness. Can Nolf break his cardio? It’s usually a cardio challenge that begins the process of mentally breaking. Nolf by bonus.
165lbs: # 5 Vincenzo Joseph (PSU) over Willie Scott (RU). Joseph’s been workman like in his approach this season. Pushing the pace from neutral. His neutral attacks have developed at a faster pace than his top game. SO while he can control a match without the hammer top game his matches have been a bit closer than some fans thought. What makes him hard to takedown? Heavy, strong hips. I know that he has been thrown by lesser foes this season for being overly aggressive and imprecise. He’s learned from that. Mr. Wide Open, Chad Walsh couldn’t throw him and he and Nickal might be the best throwers at the D1 level. Scott isn’t ready to stop him from neutral. Can Scott get out from under VJ? If not Cenzo gets to bonus points.
285lbs: #5 Nick Nevills (PSU) over Razohnn Gross or Marc McDonald (RU). Nevills is a complete heavy. He’s got game in all the areas. Gross and McDonald are still developing some fundamental skills and cardio. Nevills will roll to bonus points.
184lbs: #2 Bo Nickal (PSU) over #12 Nicholas Gravina (RU). I know, I know how can I have Nickal this low on my confidence list. Do I think Gravina will beat him? No. Do I think that he’ll keep his bonus point rate, not sure. Gravina is a physical beast but I don’t think that he gets to feel what Nickal wrestles like in his room. I don’t see Nickal being able to turn Gravina like Dean did. I think that Nickal will get to bonus points going feet to back. This has been Nickal’s only flaw at the D1 level. Martin and Jackson took advantage of this last season. Can Gravina duplicate this style? Taylor Walsh, SKWC might be able to help. But unlikely. I think that the match starts close and Nickal opens it up as things progress and he sees openings.
197lbs: Matt McCutcheon (PSU) over Matthew Correnti (RU). McCutcheon might not be a big 97lber but Correnti isn’t either. Correnti had a nice win against Illinois but even if this is a competitive match witch I’m not sure that it will be, I don’t think that Correnti has the gas tank to hang with McC.
174lbs: #13 Morelli or #14 Shak Rasheed (PSU) over Phillip Bakuckas (RU). Both PSU guys are ahead of Bakuckas here. From what I’ve seen of Morelli his head blocking days seem behind him. He’s opened it up with some more effective attacks from a tie up and his level change seems quicker as well. Rasheed’s cardio has improved but I’m sure he’s not where he wants to be. He’s not as lightening quick and all out as last year but he’s made improvements overall not relying on one big move. Bakuckas has had some close matches with good wrestlers but has had trouble getting over the hump. Last week he lost in Sudden Victory to #11 Zac Brunson. He had a couple of good opportunities to steal the match but couldn’t finish on 2 different attacks that he was in deep on. Can he step up against either PSU guy?
133lbs: #22 Scott DelVecchio (RU) over George Carpenter (PSU). I’ve only seen Carpenter wrestle two times. My impression is that he’s solid but not ready to knock off a top 25 guy. He wrestled McKee close but lost big to the distinct style that is Montoya. DelVecchio seems to be back in the lineup for good. He’s got quality attacks and can finish quickly. Toss up but if you put a gun to my head, regular decision Scott D.
That was an intellectual exercise. This is my gut doing the thinking.
149lbs: #1 Zain Retherford
157lbs: #1 Jason Nolf (PSU)
285lbs: #5 Nick Nevills (PSU)
141lbs: #6 Anthony Ashnault (RU)
184lbs: #2 Bo Nickal (PSU)
125lbs: #3 Nick Suriano (PSU)
165lbs: # 5 Vincenzo Joseph (PSU)
197lbs: Matt McCutcheon (PSU)
174lbs: #13 Morelli or #14 Shak Rasheed (PSU)
133lbs: #22 Scott DelVecchio (RU)
I hope to provide coverage of this match.