B1G Match-up: Ohio State vs Illinois
January 12, 2017
The 14th ranked Fighting Illini of Illinois travel to Columbus, Ohio this weekend to take on the 4th ranked Ohio State Buckeyes in a B1G10 match-up. The Buckeyes, who are coming off a nice road victory against 21st ranked Wisconsin, look to keep the momentum rolling against an Illini team that went 1-1 on a road trip to the east coast last weekend. The Fighting Illini lost a close match to 10th ranked Rutgers 17-19 before getting a nice win over Maryland by a score of 30-15. Below is my preview and prediction of how the match will unfold. Admittedly, I am an Ohio State fan but try to remain objective…try to. The rankings used are from Intermat as of the latest update on January 10th.
125: #12 Jose Rodriguez vs Travis Piotrowski
J-Rod, currently 11-3, has really come on and impressed this season. He has nice wins over Brent Fleetwood, Trey Andrews, and Aaron Assad. Prior to last week’s match against Wisconsin, his only losses were two 1-point losses to AA’s Darian Cruz and Joey Dance. An argument can be made that he could have and should have won his match with Dance in the finals of the CKLV. Then came last week when he lost to Jimenez by a score of 14-2. This was a head scratcher to me. Was it a fluke loss? Was he battling the weight cut? Or did he just get out wrestled? Maybe it’s a combination of all 3?
Piotrowski is currently 9-7 with a runner-up finish at the UNI Open. He has nice wins over Aaron Assad and LJ Bentley. In matches that he’s won, he’s outscored opponents 52-21 including 3 victories where his opponent didn’t score a point.
Prediction: J-Rod gets back on track and wins this match by decision. 3-0 Bucks
133: #2 Nathan Tomasello vs #4 Zane Richards
This is obviously the marquee match of the dual featuring 2 AA’s who are both title contenders at 133lbs.
Tomasello, who has placed 1st and 3rd at nationals, is currently 8-0 (86-5 for his career) has nice wins over Stevan Micic, Jaydin Eierman, and Mark Grey this year. He has 4 bonus point wins, including bonus point victories in his last 3 matches. His pace has been phenomenal, much more reminiscent of his freshman season when he won the national title.
Richards, who placed 4th last year, is currently 14-1 on the season (96-21 for his career). His lone loss this year was a SV loss to Eric Montoya in the Midlands finals. He has won the Kauffman Brand Open, Joe Parisi Open, and was runner-up Midlands so far this season. 10 of his 14 wins have come via bonus point.
Prediction: Tomasello’s pace and strength are too much for Richards and wins this match by decision. 6-0 Bucks
141: #14 Luke Pletcher vs Mousa Jodeh
Pletcher, new to 141, is showing improvement since making the weight class jump. Pletcher is currently 18-2 on the season, however the bulk of his wins were at 133. He failed to place at Midlands after suffering a loss to Matt Kolodzik and and a 1-point loss to Kanen Storr to place. He’s coming off a solid win over #15 Cole Martin (Wisconsin) that got him back in the rankings. It should be noted that Pletcher has scored first in 15 of his 20 matches wrestled this season, and can get to legs with ease, though sometimes has trouble finishing against bigger opponents.
Jodeh is currently 9-9 on the season with his lone marquee win being a 1-0 victory over Synon at the Kauffman Brand Open, where he finished 3rd.
Prediction: Pletcher already scored a 12-3 major decision victory over Jodeh at Midlands and I expect the same result again. 10-0 Bucks
149: #5 Micah Jordan vs Eric Barone
Micah is on a roll this year with a perfect 20-0 record (77-7 for his career). He leads the team in wins, tech falls, and is tied for second in falls. He has nice wins over Laike Gardner, Patricio Lugo, and 2 wins over returning AA Justin Oliver. He’s on a roll this year, scoring points in bunches, and wrestling better than we’ve seen from him in a long time.
Barone is currently 3-3. Not a lot to say about him other than he did have a nice win over Anthony Giraldo (Rutgers).
Prediction: Micah is just too much for Barone and gets the fall. 16-0 Bucks
157: Jake Ryan vs Kyle Langenderfer
We are all aware of Ryan (9-7) and his struggles this year. Many of us, myself included, thought he was a round of 12/bubble AA guy coming into the season, however now you have to wonder if he isn’t a bubble qualifier. The problem with Ryan has been closing matches out. He has scored first in 11 of his 16 matches but in many of his matches, he fades away as the match goes on. Recently he went to the CSU Open and registered 4 victories and then followed that up with a win in the Northwestern dual. However, last weekend he lost a head scratcher to T.J. Ruschell of Wisconsin, 6-2. This is the same guy that Ryan dominated twice last year. You have to wonder if he is outgrowing the weight class.
Langenderfer is a bit of an enigma. He is currently 13-4 on the season with a 3rd place finish at the Kauffman Brand Open, 1st place finish at Joe Parisi Open, and went 2-2 at Midlands. In the 2014-2015 season, Langenderfer was 22-15 and took 3rd in the B1G10 at 149. Then last year he was 7-14 at the same weight class. It looks like he may be back to his 2014-2015 form and this isn’t good for Ryan. He’s coming of a major decision win against Maryland last week and may have confidence on his side.
Prediction: The Illini get on the board here as I see Langenderfer winning by decision in this match. 16-3 Bucks
165: Cody Burcher vs #1 Isaiah Martinez
Burcher is 5th on the team in wins with a 13-6 record on the season. He’s done an admirable job this year with a nice wins over Keilan Torres and Johnny Sebastian. More impressive though is how he handles matches against the top ranked competitors in his weight class. While not winning them, he is keeping the matches close which benefits the team in duals. He has close losses to Anthony Valencia (4-3 and 5-3) and held Daniel Lewis and Isaac Jordan to a decision as well.
IMar…what can we say. 2 B1G10 and 2 national championships in 2 tries and is on pace to become only 5th 4x NCAA champ in history. He has 1 loss in 2 years, to Jason Nolf, who he later avenged….twice. He is currently 14-0 on the season with championships at the UNI Open and Midlands. He’s beaten returning AA’s Daniel Lewis and Chad Walsh and has another nice win over Anthony Valencia. He has scored bonus points in all his matches except one, a 10-6 decision over Walsh.
Prediction: Burcher has been able to keep it close with a lot good guys, but I see IMar picking up the major decision here. 16-7 Bucks
174: #1 Bo Jordan vs #12 Zac Brunson
After missing a good chunk of the season, BoJo is back on the mat and currently sporting an 8-0 record. 3 of those victories are by fall, 3 more by technical fall, and the remaining 2 by major decision. Twice 3rd at the national tournament, this looks to be Bo’s first real test of the season. Bo is still getting his timing back but is looking good this year and looks to have that horse power back we saw from him his freshman year.
Brunson is 19-3 on the season with a title at the Kauffman Brand and 3rd place finishes at the UNI Open and Midlands. He’s got nice wins over Alex Meyer, Ryan Christensen, and David Kocer with his only losses coming to to ranked foes Zahid Valencia and Taylor Lujan and then a head scratcher to Jacobe Smith. Brunson was a B1G10 runner-up last year and is still looking for that elusive AA finish at NCAA’s.
Prediction: BoJo continues to prove that he is the top dog at 174 in the B1G10 and picks up the victory here by decision. 19-7 Bucks
184: #10 Myles Martin vs #13 Emery Parker
Myles Martin, coming off a national title at 174 last year, is currently 18-3 at 184 this year. His only losses have come at the hands of Zack Zavatsky (2016 ACC Champ) and 2 former AA’s in Jack Dechow and Pete Renda. Martin is currently 2nd on the team in wins, falls; tech falls, and leads the team in major decisions. Expectations were high for Martin this year and rightfully so. Aside from an uncharacteristic performance by his standards at Midlands, he has competed quite well thus far at 184. This includes a 22-7 tech fall over 11th ranked Steven Schneider at the CKLV.
Emery Parker…...who is this guy is what I found myself asking after I noticed him in the rankings. Well he is currently 18-3, ranked 13th in the country, and coming off a very nice win over 14th ranked Nicholas Gravina of Rutgers. This year he has managed to finish 1st at the Kauffman Brands Open and the UNI Open, and 3rd at the Joe Parisi Open. Recently he went 2-2 at Midlands.
Prediction: Call it hunch but I like Myles Martin to make a statement in this match on his home mat. Martin by major decision. 23-7 Bucks
197: #5 Kollin Moore vs Andre Lee
News flash…Kollin Moore is good. Real good. Oh, and he’s exciting to watch because he loves to score. Moore is currently 17-2 on the season which puts him 4th on the team in wins. He’s also 4th in tech falls, 2nd in major decisions, and 2nd in falls. He has shown he can take down anyone in the country as we saw when he scored takedowns against Pfarr and multiple takedowns against Cox. He has nice wins over Jake Smith and Ricky Robertson and had #1 ranked J’Den Cox on the ropes before losing a close match 6-4.
Andre Lee is 7-7 on the season with no real signature wins. He did finish 2nd at Kauffman Brand and 3rd at the Joe Parisi Open.
Prediction: Moore all day and by bonus, but how much bonus? Lee has only been pinned in one match this year…..let’s make it 2. Moore by the pin. 29-7 Bucks
285: Josh Fox vs Deuce Rachal (Not sure if we will see either starter as Snyder has been at a training camp at the OTC I believe and Brooks Black has been out since the Midlands)
Fox has been filling in for Snyder when Snyder doesn’t compete and has amassed a 4-10 record. He fights hard and gives it his all when he is called upon; even though it is evident he is normally outsized and outmatched.
Rachal has been filling for Brooks Black the last couple of weeks. He is currently 5-6 on the season with all his wins at the Kauffman Brand Open. He went 0-2 at Midlands and most recently lost his dual match against Rutgers 3-1.
Prediction: This all assumes that Snyder and Black are not wrestling. I look for Fox to go out on his home mat and get the job done against Rachal, winning by decision.
Final Score: 32-7 Bucks
The Buckeyes just have too much star power and depth for the Illini to keep up with and it will show in the outcome. With that said, there are still some very intriguing matches that could have big seeding implications in the future.
Brandon Olinger is an NCAA wrestling fanatic and the “not so loud member” of The Inside Trip wrestling podcast. You can follow Brandon on twitter @brando413 and The Inside Trip @theinsidetrip1. You can email Brandon @ firstname.lastname@example.org