Wrestling Preview: Michigan State and Illinois
Ryan Simpson and Tom Johnston talk about Penn State dominate victory over Ohio State and preview this weekend's matchups:
Coming off a very successful dual against Ohio State, Penn State will host Michigan State on Friday, Feb. 15 in Rec Hall and travel to face Illinois on Sunday, Feb. 17. The Nittany Lions handed Ohio State its second loss this season after Michigan defeated the Buckeyes on Jan. 25. Ohio State’s top wrestlers just failed to execute and the scoreboard showed that after the dual was over. Penn State’s dual winning streak has now reached 56 straight, and the Nittany Lions will look to add two more to their already impressive streak.
The Michigan State Spartans (9-6, 3-4) have had quite a successful season, considering the difficulty that comes with being a Big Ten wrestling program. The Spartans are riding into State College with a five-dual winning streak on the line which is impressive, but does not touch Penn State’s. The team only has three ranked wrestlers this season: seventh-ranked Rayvon Foley at 125 pounds, 19th-ranked Drew Hughes at 174 pounds and 17th-ranked Cameron Caffey at 184 pounds.
Foley is only in his sophomore season, and he is making a name for himself nationally. His only two losses this season came against the top-ranked Sebastian Rivera of Northwestern and fourth-ranked Nico Piccininni from Oklahoma State. Meanwhile, Hughes and Caffey have had to battle back from losses to keep their team on top. Hughes was ranked 15th in the preseason poll and has fallen to 19th with his nine losses this season. Caffey, who is in his redshirt freshman year, was dealt three tough matchups in a row, losing all three. Caffey’s ranking has been inconsistent this season as he sits at 17th as this weekend’s match up approaches.
Match Prediction: Penn State wins over Michigan State 45-4
The Illinois Fighting Illini are not having as successful season, as their current record is 2-7 with their conference record in the Big Ten standing at 1-6. Illinois’ actually includes more ranked wrestlers than the Spartans, with five of their 10 starters ranked by FloWrestling: 12th-ranked Travis Piotrowski at 125 pounds, fifth-ranked Mike Carr at 141 pounds, ninth-ranked Eric Barone at 157 pounds, 18th-ranked Joey Gunther at 165 pounds and fifth-ranked Emery Parker at 184 pounds.
Out of those five-ranked competitors, Penn State has a wrestler ranked above Illinois in four of the five weights. The matchups to watch on Sunday will be the 141-pound scrap between second-ranked Nick Lee and fifth-ranked Mike Carr, with the other matchup being between seventh-ranked Shakur Rasheed and fifth-ranked Emery Parker at 184 pounds.
Match Prediction: Penn State wins over Illinois 41-4
Ryan Simpson is a senior majoring in statistics and minoring in sociology. To contact him, email email@example.com.