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  • Photo: Photo/Sam Janicki

    Photo: Photo/Sam Janicki

    Michigan at Penn State Preview & Predictions

    Mark Hall defeated Myles Amine in the Big Ten finals (Photo/Sam Janicki, SJanickiPhoto.com)

    Fresh off a victory over No. 5 Ohio State, No. 4 Michigan will look the knock off the top team in the land when they face off against No. Penn State on Friday night at the Bryce Jordan Center. Obviously the Nittany Lions are favored on paper, but the Wolverines have the names and talents to give them a run. The following is a weight-by-weight preview of the dual meet.

    125: No. 15 Drew Mattin (Michigan) vs. Devin Schnupp (Penn State)

    Mattin has struggled against some of the higher ranked wrestlers in the country, but he has solidified himself as a gatekeeper of sorts to the rankings. He has basically taken care of business and defeated everyone that he is supposed to beat. He enters this match coming off a one-sided 12-6 decision over former Junior World Team member Malik Heinselman.

    Gavin Teasdale was expected to take over the starting spot at 125 pounds this season, but that never materialized. Instead, Schnupp got a shot at the weight for a second straight season. He has looked less out of his element at times this year, but he has still struggled against a tough schedule. He will bring a 6-10 record into this match.

    These two wrestled last January, and Mattin was able to put up an 8-0 major decision. He will likely be able to duplicate that here. However, if Michigan really wants to give Penn State a run in this dual, they would greatly benefit from a few more bonus points here.

    Prediction: Mattin (Michigan) maj. dec. Schnupp (Penn State)

    133: No. 1 Stevan Micic (Michigan) vs. No. 15 Roman Bravo-Young/Scott Stossel (Penn State)

    Bravo-Young suffered an injury in his second loss of the season against No. 14 Ben Thornton (Purdue) on Friday. Rumors circulated that he would miss around three to four weeks. However, on Tuesday Penn State coach Cael Sanderson told the Centre Daily Times, "We're optimistic we'll see (Bravo-Young) on Friday, but we'll know more on Friday." If he goes, Penn State will have a fighting shot at the weight, but it is unlikely a less than 100 percent Bravo-Young could take out Micic. If he doesn't go, Penn State would likely go with Stossel who will be hoping to avoid bonus points.

    Micic ascended to the No. 1 spot in the rankings after returning champion Seth Gross (South Dakota State) announced he was out for the season with an injury. The Michigan wrestler announced his presence with authority last weekend as he easily handled No. 6 Luke Pletcher (Ohio State) via a 14-1 major decision.

    It is highly unlikely that Bravo-Young returns to action after a seemingly serious injury. Stossel will have a hard time avoiding bonus points against Micic. On the season, he has scored bonus points in seven of his nine matches.

    Prediction: Micic (Michigan) tech. fall Stossel (Penn State)

    141: No. 5 Kanen Storr (Michigan) vs. No. 7 Nick Lee (Penn State)

    Storr has looked strong in his first season at Michigan. However, he suffered a major setback last weekend against Ohio State. He faced off against No. 2 Joey McKenna. What appeared to be a close match on paper turned into a blowout, and McKenna finished with an 18-3 technical fall. Storr will get another chance to pick up a top-10 victory here against Lee.

    Lee dropped his first match of the year against No. 9 Tristan Moran (Wisconsin) earlier this month. However, since that loss, he has bounced back with three straight victories to improve his record to 19-1. During that run, he picked up a 5-4 decision victory over former high school rival No. 19 Chad Red (Nebraska).

    Storr needs to have the advantage in the neutral position to control matches. When he is not able to control the pace, he can struggle. Lee continually moves forward and can rely on his volume of takedown attempts. This may start out as a close match, but in the end, Lee should take it handily.

    Prediction: Lee (Penn State) dec. Storr (Michigan)

    149: Malik Amine (Michigan) vs. Brady Berge/Jarod Verkleeren (Penn State)

    After years of having the top 149-pound wrestler in the country, Penn State hasn't been particularly strong at this weight. Berge won the spot over Verkleeren at the Keystone Classic. However, recently Verkleeren has gotten the shot in a few duals. In theory, this should be an opportunity for Michigan to pick up some points and help their upset chances.

    With that being said, Amine has not been particularly strong this season. He holds a 7-4 record on the season, and he holds an impressive victory over Josh Maruca (Arizona State). However, Penn State should be able to score a decision here regardless of who goes.

    Prediction: Verkleeren (Penn State) dec. Amine (Michigan)

    157: No. 5 Alec Pantaleo (Michigan) vs. No. 1 Jason Nolf (Penn State)

    Last year, Pantaleo put a scare into Nolf in this dual. He scored two second-period takedowns against the eventual NCAA champion. However, Nolf rode out the entire third period and took the match 6-4.

    Pantaleo gave 149 pounds a shot at the Midlands, but it did not go as well as expected. Following the tournament, he moved back to 157 pounds and won four of his last five matches. In his last match, he scored a 3-2 victory over No. 6 Ke-Shawn Hayes (Ohio State).

    Even with Pantaleo seemingly rounding back into form, he will almost certainly struggle against Nolf. The senior has gone 18-0 this season, and he has picked up bonus points in 17 matches. His only non-bonus victory was a 10-4 decision over No. 2 Tyler Berger (Nebraska)

    Prediction: Nolf (Penn State) maj. dec. over Pantaleo (Michigan)

    165: No. 7 Logan Massa (Michigan) vs. No. 1 Vincenzo Joseph (Penn State)

    When they first hit the scene, it looked like Joseph vs. Massa was going to be a rivalry for years to come. However, it has not really turned out that way. They have now met three times, and Joseph has taken each match. Their last meeting came at the Big Ten Championship, and Joseph took the bout 5-4.

    So far this season, Massa has gone 12-3 with his most recent outing being a 7-2 decision victory over Kaleb Romero (Ohio State). Joseph has been in and out of the lineup recently, but he should be ready to go for this match. In the end, this one might be close, but the Penn State wrestler has had Massa's number so far.

    Prediction: Joseph (Penn State) dec. Massa (Michigan)

    174: No. 3 Myles Amine (Michigan) vs. No. 1 Mark Hall (Penn State)

    A win here for Amine would not only be a big upset, but it would also go a long way towards helping Michigan pull off the team win. Amine has never beaten Hall, but both of their meetings have been very close. They first met last January, and Hall pulled out a 6-5 victory. Their last meeting came last March, and once again Hall pulled out a one-point victory.

    Amine does not get as much attention as he probably should since this weight has been dominated by Hall and Valencia, but he is putting together an impressive season. On the year, he has gone 14-1 with his only loss coming against Valencia. He already holds wins over No. 6 Jordan Kutler (Lehigh), No. 4 Daniel Lewis (Missouri), No. 9 Mikey Labriola (Nebraska) and No. 14 Dylan Lydy (Purdue).

    On the other hand, Hall has once again started the season undefeated. He holds an 18-0 undefeated record and defeated rival Valencia 4-0 in a dual match earlier this season. He has only scored bonus points in half of his matches, but he has looked far from vulnerable.

    Prediction: Hall (Penn State) dec. Amine (Michigan)

    184: J.T. Correll (Michigan) vs. Francisco Bisono/No. 2 Shakur Rasheed (Penn State)

    Sanderson has indicated that Rasheed will "probably not" compete this weekend due to what has been described as a minor injury. It will be interesting to see if he sticks to that plan if this match is coming down to the wire. Bisono filled in for a pair of dual meet matches over the weekend and fell against Max Lyon (Purdue) and Norman Conley (Indiana).

    Jelani Embree started the year as the guy at 184 pounds, but he has not competed since early December. Correll has been filling in for Michigan at the weight recently, and he has gone 0-4 and given up bonus points in three of the four matches.

    Bisono would likely pull out a decision over Correll. However, if Rasheed does end up going, it would be hard to see him not putting up a bonus-point victory.

    Prediction: Bisono (Penn State) dec. Correll (Michigan)

    197: Jackson Striggow (Michigan) vs. No. 1 Bo Nickal (Penn State)

    Striggow and Nickal have never met, but the Penn State wrestler is an obvious favorite. While Striggow has been in matches against some top ranked wrestlers at 197, he has never really broken through. Nickal has been on a tear this season. He is undefeated, and he has scored bonus points in 16 of his 17 victories. Striggow held No. 2 Kollin Moore (Ohio State) to a regular decision last weekend, and that will be the task here.

    Prediction: Nickal (Penn State) maj. dec. over Striggow (Michigan)

    285: No. 8 Mason Parris (Michigan) vs. No. 4 Anthony Cassar (Penn State)

    Ever since Parris signed on to attend Michigan, the story has been the same. He is a next-level athlete who will need coaching to become a top heavyweight contender. Well so far the plan is working out for the Wolverines thanks to coaching from Sean Bormet and working with Adam Coon. His redshirt was pulled in January, and he has gone undefeated in his last six straight dual matches.

    However, that could all come to an end against Cassar. While Parris thrives on being a better athlete than the average heavyweight, that sort of plays in Cassar's game. As a former 197-pounder, he has been able to use his speed and quickness against many of the larger heavyweights.

    Prediction: Cassar (Penn State) dec. Parris (Michigan)

    Team Score: Penn State: 26, Michigan 9

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