Tonight J Robinson and the No. 5 Minnesota Golden Gophers welcome Cael Sanderson and the No. 11 Penn State Nittany Lions. The dual meet, which will take place at the Sports Pavilion in Minneapolis, is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. CST. It will be streamed live on BigTenNetwork.com.
Minnesota is 11-5 and 6-1 in the Big Ten, while Penn State is 13-5-1 and 5-2 in the conference. This will mark the final dual meet of the season for both programs.
Below is a weight-by-weight breakdown of tonight's dual meet.
125: No. 13 Brad Pataky (Penn State) vs. No. 6 Zach Sanders (Minnesota)/Forfeit
Sanders, a returning All-American, is coming off a lopsided loss (13-2) to third-ranked Matt McDonough of Iowa in a match where the Gopher sophomore clearly wasn't himself. He had not competed since injuring his leg in his victory over No. 19 Cashe Quiroga of Purdue on January 31. Pataky has won seven of his last eight matches, with the only loss during that span coming to McDonough. He is 23-6 on the season and ranked No. 13.
Bottom Line: These two met three times last season, with Pataky winning two of the three meetings, although Sanders had the better season and stronger finish. The Gophers need Sanders to be healthy for the postseason ... and it is obvious that he's not yet back to where he needs to be. It would be a surprise if the Gophers sent out Sanders to wrestle. With no backup 125-pounder, look for the Gophers to forfeit.
Prediction: Pataky (Penn State) forfeit
133: Bryan Pearsall (Penn State) vs. No. 1 Jayson Ness (Minnesota)
Ness has been a fan favorite ever since he stepped in the lineup for the Gophers as a freshman because of his pinning prowess, humility, and the fact that he is a local product. He will be making his final home appearance in front of the Gopher faithful in what is being called Jayson Ness Day at Gopher Wrestling (Fans who mention Jayson Ness' name at the ticket window will get tickets for $4.) The No. 1-ranked wrestler in the country has been a pinning machine, not only this season, but all throughout his career. Ness has pinned 16 of 22 opponents this season ... and is the all-time career leader at Minnesota with 70 pins. He is coming off an 8-4 victory over No. 3 Daniel Dennis of Iowa on Sunday. Pearsall, a redshirt freshman, has struggled this season, going 3-20.
Bottom Line: Look for Ness to give the fans what they came to see him do ... pin.
Prediction: Ness (Minnesota) pins Pearsall (Penn State)
141: No. 20 Adam Lynch (Penn State) vs. No. 6 Mike Thorn (Minnesota)
Thorn has established himself as a legitimate All-American threat this season after a season in which he went 0-2 at the NCAA Championships. He has dominated several ranked wrestlers this season and has been wrestling well, but is coming off a 15-7 loss to fourth-ranked Montell Marion of Iowa on Sunday. Lynch has been a pleasant surprise for Penn State this season, especially during the Big Ten season. He broke into the rankings for the first time in his career at No. 20. The senior has gone 6-1 in the conference, which includes victories over No. 4 Montell Marion of Iowa and No. 14 Ryan Prater of Illinois.
Bottom Line: The 141-pound weight class is deep, balanced, and unpredictable in the Big Ten. These two have been wrestling well of late, but Thorn has dominated opponents of Lynch's calendar all season long.
Prediction: Thorn (Minnesota) major dec. Lynch (Penn State)
149: No. 4 Frank Molinaro (Penn State) vs. No. 16 Mario Mason (Minnesota)
Molinaro has put together an impressive sophomore campaign after earning All-American honors last season as a redshirt freshman. He is 26-3 on the season and ranked No. 4. Molinaro comes into tonight's match riding a four-match winning streak in which he has outscored his opponents 51-22 during that stretch. Mason, who is ranked No. 16, won three straight matches prior to the 24-8 beating he took on Sunday against No. 1 Brent Metcalf of Iowa. He did takedown Metcalf down with a slick duckunder. His only victory over a ranked opponent this season came on February 5 against No. 19 Eric Terrazas of Illinois.
Bottom Line: Molinaro should win this match, but Mason has the tools to make interesting.
Prediction: Molinaro (Penn State) dec. Mason (Minnesota)
157: No. 6 Cyler Sanderson (Penn State) vs. No. 2 Dustin Schlatter (Minnesota)
Schlatter, a 2006 NCAA champion and three-time All-American, has not been challenged since moving down from 165 pounds to 157 pounds, going 5-0. On Sunday, he defeated Iowa's Jake Kerr, 4-1, but seemed to shut down offensively after getting the lone takedown of the match in the first period. Sanderson, a senior, will be looking to finish his season and career strong after the disappointment of last season, when he failed to place at the NCAA Championships. His only conference loss came to Kerr on January 29, but he has since pinned his last four opponents.
Bottom Line: Schlatter defeated Sanderson a couple times during the 2006-07 season by scores of 9-2 and 3-1, but both have come a long way since those meetings. Sanderson's style is wide open and he is not afraid to take risks, so it will be interesting to see if can get Schlatter to open up.
Prediction: Schlatter (Minnesota) dec. Sanderson (Pen State)
165: No. 7 Dan Vallimont (Penn State) vs. Cody Yohn (Minnesota)
Vallimont, much like Sanderson, is a hungry senior who wants to erase the memories of coming up short of All-American honors last season by finishing his college career strong. He has won his last three matches after a stretch in late January in which he lost three straight matches to wrestlers ranked in the top six. Yohn has gone 3-4 since stepping into the lineup at 165 pounds. He was blanked (9-0) in last outing against No. 4 Ryan Morningstar of Iowa on Sunday.
Bottom Line: Look for Vallimont to control the action against Yohn and pick up the victory. Bonus points are not out of the question, but Vallimont has only earned bonus points once in his last 11 matches.
Prediction: Vallimont (Penn State) dec. Yohn (Minnesota)
174: Justin Ortega (Penn State) vs. No. 8 Scott Glasser (Minnesota)
Glasser has won 18 of his last 20 matches, with both losses during that span coming to No. 2 Jay Borschel of Iowa. He was dominated for the second time against Borschel on Sunday, losing 13-2. Ortega is still looking for his first conference victory and comes into tonight with a 6-17 overall season mark.
Bottom Line: Glasser should handle the struggling Ortega.
Prediction: Glasser (Minnesota) dec. Ortega (Penn State)
184: No. 10 David Erwin (Penn State) vs. Kaleb Young (Minnesota)
Erwin is wrestling as well as anyone on the Nittany Lions right now. He has won five straight matches, which includes a 6-4 victory over No. 11 Phil Keddy of Iowa on January 29. His last loss came on January 22 to No. 2 John Dergo of Illinois, 6-4. Young has struggled of late, losing five straight matches. He is 7-13 on the season.
Bottom Line: Erwin should dominate Young.
Prediction: Erwin (Penn State) major dec. Young (Minnesota)
197: David Crowell/Clay Steadman (Penn State) vs. No. 12 Sonny Yohn (Minnesota)
Yohn was one of only three Gophers to pick up victories against Iowa on Sunday when he blanked Luke Lofthouse, 7-0, to improve to 21-9 on the season. Prior to beating Lofthouse, Yohn went through a tough stretch where he faced five straight ranked opponents and went 2-3 against them. Penn State has been using both Steadman and Crowell here. Crowell has competed in the last two dual meets, while Steadman has not competed since February 5. Both wrestlers have lost five straight matches.
Bottom Line: Yohn should beat whoever Penn State sends out on the mat.
Prediction: Yohn (Minnesota) major dec. Crowell (Penn State)
285: No. 12 Cameron Wade (Penn State) vs. Ben Berhow (Minnesota)
Wade dropped a significant amount of weight going into this season ... and is now a much more agile heavyweight than he was last season as a redshirt freshman. He has won four straight matches and is wrestling with a lot of confidence right now. Berhow has been very competitive with several of the nation's top heavyweights, but has not been able to win the close matches this season. He lost a close match in sudden victory to Dan Erekson, a returning All-American, on Sunday. He is currently 16-10 this season.
Bottom Line: This should a competitive match. Wade is the favorite, but don't be surprised if his match is decided by a takedown.
Prediction: Wade (Penn State) dec. Berhow (Minnesota)
Dual Meet Prediction: Minnesota 20, Penn State 19