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Stine: Predictions for This Weekend’s Big Ten Wrestling Championships

Carter Starocci, Penn State Wrestling
Photo by NCAA: Carter Starocci

March is fun for all sports fans, and it’s no different for Big Ten wrestling.

As for Penn State, the Big Ten Wrestling Tournament is also fun.

But everyone knows their real fun is had in a couple of weeks in Tulsa at the NCAA Championships.

Here are my predictions for who will be the Big Ten wrestling champions in each weight class, plus a small breakdown of the brackets for this weekend’s action in Ann Arbor:

125 – Spencer Lee, Iowa: I expect Lee to win the weight class. I don’t expect anyone to challenge him. The Franklin Regional High School graduate could either pin or technical fall his way to the Big Ten championship on his way to wrapping up one of the best college careers we’ll see.

133 – Roman Bravo-Young, Penn State: There’s certainly some talent at 133 pounds. But are any of them on the level of the two-time national champion? I don’t think so. I know a few Ohio State fans excited about Jesse Mendez. Mendez did hold RBY to a decision in the dual meet. But Mendez isn’t quite ready to be a Big Ten wrestling champion yet.

141 – Real Woods, Iowa: It will be interesting to see what Woods does in his first taste of the Big Ten Championships. The Stanford transfer was a two-time PAC-12 champion, and he’s 13-0 this. A possible final with PSU’s Beau Bartlett could be fun, but Woods’s postseason experience should get him the championship.

149 – Sammy Sasso, Ohio State: This weight is incredibly tough to pick. I could legitimately see the top five seeds at 149 winning. I think it’s possible Iowa’s Max Murin could knock off the top-seed Sasso in the semifinals. It also wouldn’t be all that surprising to see PSU’s Shayne Van Ness beating Murin in the quarterfinals. To be honest, I’m going with a gut feeling on Sasso, and some of it has to do with him already being a Big Ten champion.

157 – Levi Haines, Penn State: I said after the Michigan dual meet when Haines beat Will Lewan in sudden victory in the Bryce Jordan Center that I’m done betting against him, and I’m not changing my mind here. Haines is the No. 2 seed. Nebraska’s Peyton Robb is the top seed and has been outstanding this season at 23-0. I would have liked to have seen this match in a dual meet this year.

165 – Cameron Amine, Michigan: Amine wrestled a limited schedule this year and went 10-2, and one of those losses came to Penn State’s Alex Facundo on riding time. You would think Amine is itching to make up for those two losses, and he has the experience. Top-seeded Dean Hamiti of Wisconsin wrestled a full schedule this year and went 17-4. Hamiti should wrestle Penn State’s Alex Facundo in the semifinals, and that could be interesting. Hamiti and Fecund didn’t wrestle each other this year’s dual meet. 

174 – Carter Starocci, Penn State: There’s no reason to think that Starocci could slip up here. He has seemed as focused as he’s ever been this season. It’d be cool to see Starocci and Illinois’ Edmond Ruth in the semifinals. Edmond’s brother, Ed Ruth, was a fan favorite at Penn State.

184 – Aaron Brooks, Penn State: It was an interesting decision at the time that Brooks only wrestled twice in February. When he hits the mat Saturday, he’ll have had three weeks off since his last bout. Brooks has only lost once this season, and that was to Iowa State’s Marcus Coleman, who is ranked fourth. He also had a close match with Ohio State’s Kaleb Romero in the dual meet, and that could be a fun match again in the championship.

197 – Max Dean, Penn State: It’s unbelievable that we could have a rematch of last year’s NCAA Championship at 197 pounds in the Big Ten semifinals with Dean and Iowa’s Jacob Warner. Dean had a couple of slip-ups early in the season, but I don’t see him getting tripped up in his final weeks as a college wrestler.

285 – Mason Parris, Michigan: Like 149 pounds, the heavyweight bracket is hard to pick. Any of the top three seeds in Parris, PSU’s Greg Kerkvliet or Iowa’s Tony Cassioppi, could win this weekend. Any three of them could also win in Tulsa in a couple of weeks. I’ll take Parris this time because he won’t have to see Kerkvliet or Cassioppi until the finals, while the latter two will battle each other in the semis.

Team champion – Penn State: It’s hard to believe, but it has been since the 2018-19 season that Penn State has won the Big Ten Championships. PSU was fourth in 2020 and second place in the last two years. The real goal is the national championship for them, but one would have to think PSU will also want to put it all together this weekend.

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