Fresh off a 23-14 win over #2 Iowa, #1 Penn State will travel to the Covelli Center this Friday night to take on the #4 Ohio State Buckeyes who looked impressive in a 23-15 win over #6 Michigan last weekend.
There are numerous exciting matches that are set to go down on Friday night between the Nittany Lions and the Buckeyes, and although Penn State are the favorites to win the dual Ohio State has a good chance to make things interesting going into the heavier bouts.
Here are some key bouts, important questions, and predictions that could determine the outcome of this top-5 ranked matchup:
165 – #9 Alex Facundo vs. #10 Carson Kharchla
This matchup at 165-pounds is going to be fireworks, as Penn State’s #9 Alex Facundo and Ohio State’s #10 Carson Kharchla are looking to bounce back after a recent loss.
Last Friday night, Facundo dropped a close 2-1 tie-breaking loss to Iowa’s #8 Patrick Kennedy. Those two have prior history, and for the second consecutive time Kennedy walked away with a narrow victory.
Also last Friday, Kharcla got pinned by Michigan’s #5 Cameron Amine. However, Kharcla was right there the entire time, and Amine got the fall in the second stanza of tie-breakers.
Both Facundo and Kharchla took Amine to tie-breakers, and Facundo defeated him 6-5 in the Bryce Jordan Center on Jan. 20th. Despite Facundo having a victory over Amine and Kharcla does not, it should be an awesome and exciting bout at 165-pounds.
141 – #5 Beau Bartlett vs. #19 Dylan D’Emilio
Even though the rankings wouldn’t predict a close bout at 141-pounds, both Penn State’s #5 Beau Bartlett and Ohio State’s #19 Dylan D’Emilio have wrestled common opponents a lot closer than you would think.
Against their duals vs. Michigan, Bartlett beat Cole Mattin 7-2, and D’Emilio beat Mattin 7-5. Another similar outcome was against Lehigh’s Malyke Hines, where Bartlett won 8-4 and D’Emilio won 3-1.
Wrestling math isn’t a great strategy to use when comparing two opponents, but Bartlett’s style of wrestling will keep D’Emilio in the match the entire time. D’Emilio is similar to Bartlett, both having elite defense and score when needed. I think this bout will go down to the wire and honestly could go either way depending on who is getting to their attacks more.
Can Ohio State’s Upperweights Keep It Close?
Ohio State is only favored in a couple bouts, one being at 125-pounds and 149-pounds. In order for Ohio State to keep it really close, bouts at 174-pounds and up need to wrestle close matches. It’s something no other team has been able to do except for Iowa last weekend, as Iowa was leading the dual until 184-pounds.
Ethan Smith, Kaleb Romero, and Gavin Hoffman will have to be stellar to give Ohio State a fighting chance, however all three of them have some history with Penn State’s killer stretch of wrestlers.
Bonus Points For Buckeyes:
Another way Ohio State can keep in it is by earning big bonus points at the matches they are favored at.
Malik Heinselman has a big advantage over Gary Steen, and there needs to be some big bonus points from Heinselman for the Buckeyes to stick close. That might not be an easy task however, as Heinselman just won 3-2 over Michigan State’s Tristan Lujan, who Steen also beat.
Sammy Sasso will also have to walk away with bonus points, and nobody has done that to Penn State’s Shayne Van Ness quite yet. Sasso has a whopping 80% bonus rate, so it is definitely possible but will be a tough challenge as Van Ness has been able to wrestle every one of his losses to a narrow point-difference.
125: Heinselman over Steen, major
133: Bravo-Young over Mendez, decision
141: Bartlett over D’Emilio, decision
149: Sasso over Van Ness, decision
157: Haines over Gallagher, decision
165: Facundo over Kharcla, decision
174: Starocci over Smith, decision
184: Brooks over Romero, major
197: Dean over Hoffman, decision
285: Kerkvliet over Orndorff, major
Team Score Prediction: Penn State over Ohio State, 26-6