Morgan McIntosh is one of four No. 1-ranked wrestlers for Penn State (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)On Friday, live on the Big Ten Network at 6 p.m. ET, the last two teams to win an NCAA championship face off in a dual meet. Penn State comes into the match undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the dual meet rankings. Ohio State is currently 9-2 and ranked No. 7.
The following is a weight-by-weight preview of the dual meet. The lineups are a prediction of each team's best squad.
The predicted outcomes are based on a proprietary statistical model developed by StrikeScoreMMA.com called Wrestler's Pythagorean Expectation (WPE). The model has been previously used to predict the finals of the Midlands Championships and the Oklahoma State vs. Missouri dual meet. In those two instances, the model correctly predicted the winner in 89 percent of matches. The WPE for each competitor is list below in parentheses.
125: No. 1 Nathan Tomasello, Ohio State (93.47) vs. No. 4 Nico Megaludis, Penn State (90.33)
As the returning national champion, Tomasello should be the favorite here. However, in the past he has struggled in his initial encounters with top-ranked wrestlers. For example, last year, he fell against Thomas Gilman (Iowa) before returning to score the victory later in the year. Tomasello and Megaludis have not met in college, so this should be a tough one.
Prediction: Tomasello (Ohio State) dec. Megaludis (Penn State)
133: No. 10 Johnni DiJulius, Ohio State (68.68) vs. No. 5 Jordan Conaway, Penn State (85.97)
Conaway has only lost twice this season. He fell against No. 2 Zane Richards in a dual and No. 1 Nahshon Garrett in the finals of the Southern Scuffle. DiJulius has managed to hold onto his ranking spot, but he has had a disappointing season up to this point. He has gone 9-4 in duals and the CKLV tournament. Conaway should take this one.
Prediction: Conaway (Penn State) dec. DiJulius (Ohio State)
141: No. 4 Micah Jordan, Ohio State (87.08) vs. No. 14 Jimmy Gulibon, Penn State (72.35)
After being ranked No. 2 in early November, Gulibon has fallen all the way to No. 14. On the other hand, Jordan has had a great redshirt freshman campaign. His only defeat was a one-point loss against No. 8 Matt Manley (Missouri). He has picked up victories over veterans such as No. 9 Todd Preston (Harvard) and No. 19 Anthony Abidin (Nebraska).
Prediction: Jordan (Ohio State) dec. Gulibon (Penn State)
149: Cody Burcher, Ohio State (58.06) vs. No. 1 Zain Retherford, Penn State (98.89)
Stieber has not really looked like himself since coming back from twin Tommy John surgeries. So far, he has only wrestled in three duals and posted a 1-2 record. For these reasons, Ohio State is expected to go with Cody Burcher here.
Burcher has been the starter for most of the season. In duals the CKLV tournament he has struggled to a 3-6 record. It has been feast of famine, as all three of his wins during that stretch have come via fall.
Retherford has been on the other end of spectrum. He is undefeated and annihilated respected opposition like Jason Tsirtsis (Northwestern) and Alec Pantaleo (Michigan). This should be as close to a lock for Penn State as it gets.
Prediction: Retherford (Penn State) maj. dec. Burcher (Ohio State)
157: No. 11 Jake Ryan, Ohio State (64.00) vs. No. 1 Jason Nolf, Penn State (95.87)
So far this season, nobody has been able to come close to stopping Nolf. That should not change here. He is 24-0 with 11 falls and 8 technical falls. It will be a struggle for Ryan to not give up bonus.
Prediction: Nolf (Penn State) tech. fall Ryan (Ohio State)
165: No. 2 Bo Jordan, Ohio State (98.25) vs. No. 17 Shakur Rasheed, Penn State (87.92)
Going into the season, a lot of people saw 165 as a potential hole in the Penn State lineup. In a lot of ways, Rasheed has been a bit of a bright spot. However, Jordan is still the clear favorite here. After beginning the year at 174, he has adjusted to the new weight and returned to dominance.
Prediction: Jordan (Ohio State) maj. dec. Rasheed (Penn State)
174: No. 14 Myles Martin, Ohio State (77.99) vs. No. 1 Bo Nickal, Penn State (95.24)
Since coming off his redshirt, Martin has gone 4-2 and outscored his opponents 64-34. Last week, he defeated No. 11 Nate Jackson (Indiana) who is the only wrestler to defeat Nickal this year. With all that being said, Martin is still adjusting to competing at the Division I level. Nickal should be in the driver's seat for this one.
Prediction: Nickal (Penn State) maj. dec. Martin (Ohio State)
184: No. 13 Kenny Courts, Ohio State (74.03) vs. No. 9 Matt McCutcheon, Ohio State (95.01)
After suffering a knee injury against Illinois, McCutcheon was listed as questionable by coach Cael Sanderson for last weekend's match against Michigan. McCutcheon did not wrestle.
Without the injury factor, McCutcheon would be a pretty clear favorite. However, he could be slowed by the knee or even replaced as a backup. If this dual turns out to be this close, this could be a wildcard match.
Prediction: McCutcheon (Penn State) dec. Courts (Ohio State)
197: Mark Martin, Ohio State (37.86) vs. No. 1 Morgan McIntosh, Penn State (97.84)
It has been a tough year for Martin. He is only 4-4 in duals and the CKLV tournament. He has been outscored 32 to 41 in those matches. On the other hand, McIntosh is undefeated with 17 bonus point victories.
Prediction: McIntosh (Penn State) maj. dec. Martin (Ohio State)
285: No. 2 Kyle Snyder (95.08*) vs. Jan Johnson (10.00)
This should be a virtual lock for the Buckeyes. Everyone knows that Snyder is a reigning world champion. He recently took third at the respected Ivan Yarygin International. He has had only one collegiate match this season, but he seems to be in top form. Johnson has struggled this season to say the least. He comes into this out with the lowest WPE of any starter.
Prediction: Snyder (Ohio State) pins Johnson (Penn State)
*Snyder's WPE is based on his performance at the Ivan Yarygin International.
Predicted Dual Meet Score: Penn State 23, Ohio State 16
Richard Mann currently runs the data-driven MMA blog StrikeScoreMMA.com.