Nathan Tomasello won his second Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational title last weekend (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
Tonight Ohio State hosts Missouri at 7 p.m. ET. Both programs are ranked in the top five, and both have Olympic medalists in their lineup. Olympic champion Kyle Snyder competes at heavyweight for the Buckeyes, while Olympic bronze medalist J'den Cox is the 197-pounder for the Tigers. Both wrestlers are returning NCAA champions.
Tonight's meeting marks the third meeting in three seasons between these two college wrestling powers. Missouri has won the last two meetings. Last year the Tigers claimed a 26-17 victory over the Buckeyes in Columbia. Will the Buckeyes get revenge in front of their home crowd? Or will the Tigers extend their winning streak to three over the Buckeyes? Tune in tonight live on the Big Tent Network and BTN2Go. Visit BTN's wrestling page.
Below are five matchups to watch.
125: No. 10 Jose Rodriguez (Ohio State) vs. No. 7 Barlow McGhee (Missouri) or Aaron Assad
The matchup at 125 pounds could see a battle of top 10 wrestlers if McGhee is given the nod. The Tiger junior competed at the NWCA All-Star Classic on Nov. 5 (lost 3-2 to Campbell's Nathan Kraisser), but an injury has kept him sidelined since. Last season McGhee was a MAC champion and reached the round of 12 at the NCAAs. Rodriguez, a redshirt freshman, had a breakthrough tournament in Las Vegas, reaching the finals before losing a tight match to Virginia Tech's Joey Dance. He enters the dual meet with a 9-2 record, but still does not have a signature win over a top 10 wrestler. A win over McGhee would solidify him as an All-American contender at 125 pounds.
133: No. 3 Nathan Tomasello (Ohio State) vs. No. 9 Jaydin Eierman (Missouri)
Tomasello, a 2015 NCAA champion and two-time All-American, made his debut at 133 pounds this past weekend at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational, and put together a strong performance in winning the title, but was pushed in the process. He had four decisions in five matches, and narrowly beat Michigan's Stevan Micic 3-2 in the finals. Eierman is coming off a successful redshirt season in which he posted a 22-2 record. He enters tonight's dual meet with a 5-0 record, which includes a tournament title at the UNI Open. However, he has not yet faced a ranked opponent this season.
141: Luke Pletcher (Ohio State) vs. Zach Synon (Missouri)
This week Ohio State announced that redshirt freshman Ke-Shawn Hayes, ranked No. 12, was lost for the season because of an injury, and highly-touted true freshman Pletcher, a three-time Pennsylvania state champion, was being pulled off redshirt. Pletcher won two tournament titles in the first month of his college wrestling career and compiled a perfect 8-0 record, but all of his matches have come at 133 pounds. It remains to be seen what kind of impact he will have wrestling up a weight class in the Big Ten. With No. 8 Matt Manley sidelined, the Tigers have called on Synon, a two-time returning NCAA qualifier at 133 pounds who moved up a weight class for his senior season. He comes into the dual meet with a 9-3 record this season.
149: No. 5 Micah Jordan (Ohio State) vs. No. 4 Lavion Mayes (Missouri)
If a Jordan-Mayes match materializes, it will be the premier matchup of the dual meet. However, Mayes, a two-time All-American, has wrestled only two matches this season and is recovering from a concussion. He has not competed since Nov. 20. Jordan, who reached the round of 12 last season at 141 pounds, moved up a weight class and has been dominant in the early part of the season. He is 17-0 with 12 bonus point victories. Last weekend he won his second consecutive title at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational.
197: No. 6 Kollin Moore (Ohio State) vs. No. 1 J'den Cox (Missouri)
The early returns on the redshirt freshman Moore have been positive. He has won 15 of his first 16 matches this season and has steadily climbed the rankings at 197 pounds. His lone blemish came in the semifinals of the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational last weekend to No. 2 Brett Pfarr of Minnesota. Moore will face a tall task tonight when he meets J'den Cox, an Olympic bronze medalist and two-time NCAA champion. Cox enters the match with a 5-0 record this season with win over two wrestlers ranked in the top 10, Jared Haught (Virginia Tech) and Kevin Beazley (Old Dominion).
Dual Meet Prediction: Ohio State 24, Missouri 12