Before last week’s dual meet with Michigan, there were some questions if Penn State wrestling was deserving of being No. 1 over Iowa in the InterMat rankings. After the 29-6 dismantling over the No. 3 Wolverines, all questions were put to rest.
But the Nittany Lions won’t have to wait long to see if they are the true top-ranked team in the nation as they will go to a hostile environment in Iowa City to face the No. 2 Hawkeyes on Friday night.
The $64,000 dollar question now: Who wins?
Give me the Nittany Lions, but not by much.
Here are my predictions and analysis for the most anticipated dual meet of college wrestling on Friday night.
125 – PSU (7) Drew Hildebrandt vs. Iowa (11) Drake Ayala. Winner: Hildebrandt by decision. (3-0).
Analysis: Hildebrandt only lost to Michigan stud, and former PSU 125-pounder Nick Suriano, 2-1, last week. It can’t be understated how big of an addition Hildebrandt is. However, if regular Iowa starter Spencer Lee was here, this matchup would go to Lee, and the Hawkeyes would probably win the dual meet. Lee is recovering from ACL surgery and won’t wrestle this season.
133 – PSU (1) Roman Bravo-Young vs. Iowa (3) Austin DeSanto or Cullan Schriever. Winner: Bravo-Young by decision. (6-0)
Analysis: There’s probably no way Iowa would send out Schriever against Penn State, but I know what you’re thinking. DeSanto is probably going to be hungry for RBY after last season’s Big Ten final at 133, where Bravo-Young was a 5-2 winner. But the way Bravo-Young is wrestling this season, I just don’t see him losing this one.
141 – PSU (1) Nick Lee vs. Iowa (2) Jaydin Eierman. Winner: Eierman by decision. (6-3)
Analysis: It’s a rematch from last year’s NCAA Championship at 141 where Lee won in sudden victory. Lee is coming off a COVID diagnosis a couple weeks ago, and it’s fair to wonder if he’s 100 percent right now. This one, like Bravo-Young and DeSanto, could be the first of three matches between the two this season. Flip a coin on who will win any of them.
149 – PSU (19) Beau Bartlett vs. Iowa (10) Max Murin. Winner: Murin by decision. (6-6)
Analysis: It’s easy to forget that Bartlett is still a young wrestler with not even 25 matches in his collegiate career. He hasn’t seen Murin, a central Pennsylvania native, yet in his career.
157 – PSU Terrell Barraclough or Tony Negron vs. Iowa (12) Kaleb Young. Winner: Young by major decision. (6-10)
Analysis: The problems that PSU has had at 125 the past few seasons is now the problem they face at 157. Barraclough has probably looked a little better than Negron so far this season, but neither one is on Young’s level.
165 – PSU (11) Brady Berge vs. Iowa (5) Alex Marinelli. Winner: Marinelli by major decision. (6-14)
Analysis: Marinelli is going to be especially motivated in this one after being upset by Ohio State’s Carter Kharchla last Friday to lose his top ranking. If Berge would be able to pull off another upset, it would probably be the best win of his collegiate career.
174 – PSU (1) Carter Starocci vs. Iowa (2) Michael Kemerer. Winner: Starocci by decision. (9-14)
Analysis: Here is where things start turning around for the Nittany Lions. And again, it’s another national championship rematch between Starocci and Kemerer. Penn State’s upper weights are as good as anyone in the nation. If this match were to go the Hawkeyes’ way, it would be a tough climb for Penn State to get a win. But the way Starocci is wrestling, I’ll go with him.
184 – PSU (1) Aaron Brooks vs. Iowa (17) Abe Assad. Winner: Brooks by major decision. (13-14)
Analysis: This is probably the one bout of the dual where Penn State overmatches Iowa. Assad is good, but Brooks is on another level these days.
197 – PSU (2) Max Dean vs. Iowa (4) Jacob Warner. Winner: Dean by decision. (16-14)
Analysis: I’m not sure what it is about Warner. He’s ranked fourth in the country at 197 pounds, but it never seems like he’s quite that good. Maybe that’s just because there are so many studs everywhere in the Hawkeyes’ lineup. We’ll find out a lot about Dean in this one.
285 – (3) Greg Kerkvliet vs. Iowa (5) Tony Cassioppi. Winner: Kerkvliet by decision. (19-14)
Analysis: Kerkvliet is fresh off an upset of Michigan’s Mason Parris last Friday. It’s probably Kerkvliet’s first signature win of his career. If he didn’t lose to Parris, it’s hard to see him losing to Cassioppi. Even if the dual meet comes down to the final match.