Oklahoma State's Dean Heil defeated Missouri's Jaydin Eierman in the NCAA quarterfinals (Photo/John Sachs, Tech-Fall.com)
No. 3 Missouri heads to Stillwater on Saturday to face No. 5 Oklahoma State in a former Big 12 rivalry match. The Tigers are undefeated on the season, but the Cowboys represent their biggest challenge to date. The dual meet will feature 15 ranked wrestlers and three matches between top-ten ranked competitors. The following is a weight-by-weight preview of the dual meet. The lineups are a prediction of each team's best squad
125: No. 7 Nick Piccininni (Oklahoma State) vs. Barlow McGhee (Missouri)
After back-to-back losses against No. 5 Sean Fausz (NC State) and No. 3 Spencer Lee (Iowa), Piccininni bounced back with a pair of wins over No. 15 Zeke Moisey (West Virginia) and Jake Ferri (Kent State). On the season, the Oklahoma State wrestler is 15-3 with a 50 percent bonus rate. However, his victory over Moisey is his only official win over a wrestler currently ranked. (He defeated Lehigh's Darian Cruz at the NWCA All-Star Classic.)
McGhee enters this match coming off a one-point decision loss against Drew Hildebrandt (Central Michigan). He has gone 12-6 during his senior season, but, in dual meet matches, he has gone only 7-6. McGhee did manage to pick up a win over No. 17 Christina Moody (Oklahoma). During his time at Missouri, McGhee has often ended up in close matches. This season, he has already gone to overtime four times, and he has lost all four of those matches.
These two have met twice before. In 2016, McGhee defeated Piccininni during his redshirt year via 3-1 decision. Last season, Piccininni got the win with a 7-4 decision at the Southern Scuffle. McGhee will almost always have a size advantage at 125, but Piccininni's offense will be too much in this match.
Prediction: Piccininni (Oklahoma State) dec. McGhee (Missouri)
133: No. 3 Kaid Brock (Oklahoma State) vs. No. 7 John Erneste (Missouri)
Since being upset by No. 9 Montorie Bridges (Wyoming), Brock has gone on a four-match winning streak and picked up bonus points in three of those wins. In his last match, he defeated Anthony Tutolo (Kent State) with a 13-5 major decision. Brock has gone 17-2 and also holds a win over No. 12 Mitchell McKee (Minnesota) this season.
Erneste has gone 19-1 this season with his only loss coming against No. 6 Jack Mueller (Virginia). In his other matches against ranked opposition, he has taken a decision over No. 14 Cameron Kelly (Ohio) and a major decision over No. 17 Dennis Gustafson (Virginia Tech).
Last season, Brock picked up a pair of victories over Erneste. The Cowboy majored him at the Southern Scuffle and then took a 15-8 decision against him in the dual meet match. In those matches, Brock's attacks were too aggressive and diverse. That should be the same story in this match.
Prediction: Brock (Oklahoma State) dec. Erneste (Missouri)
141: No. 5 Dean Heil (Oklahoma State) vs. No. 3 Jaydin Eierman (Missouri)
Heil has lost more matches this season (two) than he did in his previous two seasons combined (one). Both of his losses have been close, and they have come against No.1 Bryce Meredith (Wyoming) and No. 2 Kevin Jack (NC State). Outside of those two losses, Heil has won 17 matches and picked up signature wins over No. 13 Luke Karam (Lehigh) and No. 10 Tommy Thorn (Minnesota).
Eierman is having a bit of a breakout season. He has gone 21-1 with his lone loss coming against Meredith. He holds a 72 percent bonus rate, and he has defeated multiple ranked wrestlers including No. 16 A.C. Headlee (North Carolina), No. 15 Alex Madrigal (Old Dominion), No. 9 Mason Smith (Central Michigan) and No. 4 Yianni Diakomihalis (Cornell).
Heil holds a pair of wins over Eierman. Last year, he defeated him by a two-point margin in the dual meet match. Heil won again by a one-point margin at the NCAA tournament. If Heil is firing on all cylinders, he should be able to win this match via close decision. However, he has looked vulnerable is that type of match year. With that being said, this will be a good match to determine where Heil is heading into the postseason. For now, he should remain the favorite.
Prediction: Heil (Oklahoma State) dec. Eierman (Missouri)
149: No. 15 Boo Lewallen (Oklahoma State) vs. No. 3 Grant Leeth (Missouri)
Many expected Lewallen to take over the starting spot from teammate Geo Martinez at some point this season. After competing exclusively in tournaments during the first semester, Lewallen made his dual debut in January. So far the results have been mixed. In his first match, he fell in overtime against No. 14 Beau Donahue (NC State). Then, he ran into No. 2 Brandon Sorensen (Iowa) and gave up five team points. However, since those losses, he has picked up a pair of wins over Kyle Rea (West Virginia) and Chance Driscoll (Kent State).
Leeth returned to action this season after missing two full seasons. He has gone 16-2 and picked up wins over No. 12 Solomon Chishko (Virginia Tech), No. 6 Troy Heilmann (North Carolina) and, in his last match, Justin Oliver (Central Michigan).
Lewallen's biggest win this season actually came against Leeth. He defeated the Missouri wrestler at the Lindenwood Open. However, at the time Leeth was still adjusting to regular competition. Since that loss, he has won 10-straight matches and earned a spot as one of the best 149-pound wrestlers in the nation.
Prediction: Leeth (Missouri) dec. Lewallen (Oklahoma State)
157: Jonce Blaylock (Oklahoma State) vs. No. 4 Joey Lavallee (Missouri)
Blaylock is in his first year at 157 after spending his previous three seasons at 149. He began the season with an 11-3, which included wins over No. 16 Kennedy Monday (North Carolina) and No. 18 Jake Short (Minnesota). However, he recently dropped three straight matches against Archie Colgan (Wyoming), No. 3 Hayden Hidlay (NC State) and No. 2 Michael Kemerer (Iowa). Blaylock recently got back on track with a pair of wins over Zachary Moore (West Virginia) and Casey Sparkman (Kent State).
Lavallee has gone 23-1 and picked up bonus points in 67 percent of his wins. He has faced only two ranked wrestlers this season. He defeated Monday via 20-4 technical fall. In his other match against a ranked opponent, he fell in sudden victory against Hidlay.
After reaching the NCAA finals last year, Lavallee has cemented himself as one of the four best 157-pound wrestlers in the country this year. Blaylock has had some quality wins this season, but it will be a struggle to avoid giving up bonus points here.
Prediction: Lavallee (Missouri) maj. dec. Blaylock (Oklahoma State)
165: No. 10 Chandler Rogers (Oklahoma State) vs. Connor Flynn (Missouri)
Rogers has missed Oklahoma State's last two matches with an injury. If he does not go against Missouri, expect Dalton Moran to fill in for the All-American. In his last competition, he dropped a 5-2 decision against No. 9 Alex Marinelli (Iowa). Rogers has gone 10-3 this year and picked up signature victories over No. 17 Andrew Fogarty (North Dakota State) and No. 7 Nick Wanzek (Minnesota).
Flynn has gone 18-6 so far this season. He is coming off a decision win over Logan Parks (Central Michigan). For the most part, he has struggled against ranked competition this year. However, he did reach the finals of the Reno Tournament of Champions before falling against No. 14 Branson Ashworth (Wyoming).
If Rogers comes into this match at 100 percent, he has a chance to pick up bonus points. Otherwise, it might be a tough match. If Moran goes for the Cowboys, this could easily become a tossup match.
Prediction: Rogers (Oklahoma State) maj. dec. Flynn (Missouri)
174: No. 14 Jacobe Smith (Oklahoma State) vs. No. 4 Daniel Lewis (Missouri)
Smith has gone 15-3 on the season, he is riding a six-match winning streak since dropping a decision against redshirt Michael Labriola (Nebraska). His only two other losses have come against ranked wrestlers. In his last match, Smith picked up a first-period fall over Dylan Barreiro (Kent State).
Lewis has been on quite the run this season. He has won all 24 of his matches and picked up bonus points 22 of those matches. Lewis has also racked up 15 falls. He has defeated multiple ranked wrestlers including No. 15 Christian Brucki (Central Michigan), No. 17 Brandon Womack (Cornell) and No. 11 Yoanse Mejias (Oklahoma)
The top three wrestlers at 174 get a lot of attention. Lewis is on a mission to prove that people should be talking about the top four. Against wrestlers ranked in the teens, he has been amazing all season. He should be the clear favorite here and will likely put up bonus points.
Prediction: Lewis (Missouri) maj. dec. Smith (Oklahoma State)
184: Keegan Moore (Oklahoma State) vs. No. 14 Canten Marriott (Missouri)
Moore has a tough start to the 2018 calendar year. In Italy, he dropped a match against No. 3 Pete Renda (NC State). Against Iowa, he fell via decision to No. 20 Mitch Bowman. These two losses chased Moore from the rankings. Recently, he got back on track with a pair of wins over Brenden McRill (West Virginia) and Colin McCracken (Kent State).
Since Christmas, Marriott has gone 6-1 and picked up signature victories over No. 17 Chip Ness (North Carolina) and No. 12 Jordan Ellingwood (Central Michigan). His only defeat over that stretch was a one-point loss against No. 11 Max Dean (Cornell). For the season, Marriott has gone 21-4 with 10 bonus-point wins.
These two wrestlers have been on different trajectories recently. Marriott seems to be rounding into form, while Moore has continued to struggle. Look for this bout to be close early. Marriott will likely pull away late.
Prediction: Marriott (Missouri) dec. Moore (Oklahoma State)
197: No. 3 Preston Weigel (Oklahoma State) vs. No. 7 Willie Miklus (Missouri)
Since returning to the lineup, Weigel has faced a very tough schedule. Despite missing time with an injury, he has had one of the best stretches of his career. During the run, he has gone 6-0 and defeated No. 4 Mike Macchiavello (North Carolina State), No. 5 Cash Wilcke (Iowa) and No. 18 Jake Smith (West Virginia).
Miklus is back for his senior year after missing most of last year with an injury. He has gone 15-3 and picked up a win over No. 2 Jared Haught (Virginia Tech). Despite the impressive record, Miklus has dropped some seemingly winnable bouts against redshirt Jacob Warner (Iowa), No. 16 Daniel Chaid (North Carolina) and No. 6 Ben Darmstadt.
From a career perspective, Miklus probably has the better accomplishments, but this season Weigel has looked much better. The Oklahoma State wrestler is exceedingly hard to score on and rides tough from the top. This might turn out to be a close match, but Weigel will be able to do enough to pull out the victory.
Prediction: Weigel (Oklahoma State) dec. Miklus (Missouri)
285: No. 11 Derek White (Oklahoma State) vs. Jacob Bohlken (Missouri)
White moved up to heavyweight this season after spending his entire career previously at 197. The move has turned into quite the success story for the Cowboys. He has gone 14-2 on the season and picked up wins over No. 13 Thomas Haines (Lock Haven) and No. 12 Jordan Wood (Lehigh).
Heavyweight continues to be an issue for the Tigers. Bohlken has taken over the starting spot recently. On the season, he has gone 17-12. However, seven of those wins have come outside of the Division I level. In his two dual meet matches on the season, he has lost to Gage Hutchison (Eastern Michigan) and Matt Stencel (Central Michigan).
White should have a pretty sizable advantage in the neutral position in this match. If he is able to get to his offense early, he should be able to wear Bohlken down and pick up bonus points.
Prediction: White (Oklahoma State) maj. dec. Bohlken (Missouri)
Dual Prediction: Oklahoma State 20, Missouri 14