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Rutgers Wrestling Weekend: Let's see what we're all about

The first B1G road trip against No. 13 Illinois and a return home to face the Number 2 team in the country. Welcome to the Big Ten!

A record crowd for wrestling made the RAC a raucous and exciting place as the New Year opened with a match against the No. 1 Iowa Hawkeyes. The result wasn't what Rutgers was hoping for, as the Knights dropped the contest, 27-9.

But the latest individual rankings (Intermat / The Open Mat / WIN Magazine  /FloWrestling) still recognize a season-best six Scarlet Knights, led by redshirt freshman 141-pounder Anthony Ashnault (7/6/8/5).  His only two losses on the season are to top-5 wrestlers.

149-pound junior Ken Theobold remained at No. 17 by WIN Magazine heading into the weekend, while redshirt junior Anthony Perrotti oved to No. 17/18/18/17 in the four polls in advance of a showdown against unanimous No. 1 Dylan Ness (Minnesota) on Sunday.

Redshirt sophomore 174-pounder Phillip Bakuckas is No. NR/15/20/NR this week with tough matches ahead against Illinois' No. 6/8/6/11 Zac Brunson on Friday and Minnesota's No. 3/4/3/3 Logan Storely on Sunday at the RAC.

Winning in his Scarlet Knight debut, redshirt junior Andrew Campolattano earned his first ranking at Rutgers at No. 9 by The Open Mat. He will face a ranked test Sunday in Minnesota's Scott Schiller, who was ranked No. 1 this week by Intermat and FloWrestling.

Finally, there's heavyweight redshirt junior Billy Smith who came in at No. 9/11/10/10 this week, after winning the Wlkes Open over the holidays. He suffered his first loss of the year last week against Bobby Telford (Iowa), who this week was ranked No. 1 by Intermat and FloWrestling.

Big Ten Rankings

As a team, the Knights remain at No. 23 in the USA Today/NWCA Division I Coaches Poll.  Rutgers is also ranked No. 24 in Intermat's Dual Rankings and No. 25 in Intermat's Tournament Rankings.

In the latest USA Today/NWCA Division I Coaches Poll, 10 Big Ten teams are ranked among the top 25, including the top three squads. Iowa remains in the top spot in the poll, followed by No. 2 Minnesota, No. 3 Penn State and No. 7 Ohio State. Nebraska checks in at No. 12, followed by No. 13 Illinois, No. 15 Michigan, No. 18 Northwestern, No. 20 Wisconsin. Purdue is also receiving votes in the poll.

Weekend Matches

No. 13 Illinois Fighting Illini (6-1, 0-0 Big Ten) - Friday, Jan. 9, 7 p.m. - Hull Hall, Champaign, Ill.

Live streamIllinois All Access

Live updates: Twitter - @RUWrestling

No. 2 Minnesota Golden Gophers (6-0, 2-0 Big Ten) - Sunday, Jan. 11, Noon - The RAC, Piscataway, NJ

Live streamBTN Plus

Live updates: Twitter - @RUWrestling

Major challenges face the Scarlet as the Big Ten schedule continues.  Friday's match against the Illini is the first road test for the squad.  Illinois is 6-1 in dual competition this season, most recently finishing second at the Midlands Championships on Dec. 30.

Senior 125-pounder and three-time All-American Jesse Delgado is the unanimous No. 1 wrestler in his weight class and has won back-to-back national titles. Zac Brunson, who wrestled last season at 157 pounds and lost to redshirt junior Anthony Perrotti during his All-America run, is wrestling at 174 pounds this year.

The following seven Fighting Illini enter the dual ranked by Intermat/The Open Mat/WIN Magazine: No. 1/NR/1 125-pounder Jesse Delgado, No. 6/6/3 133-pounder Zane Richards, No. 19/19/16 141-pounder Steven Rodrigues, No. 4/4/4 157-pounder Isiah Martinez, No. 8/8/7 165-pounder Jackson Morse, No. 6/8/6 174-pounder Zac Brunson and No. 20/14/14 184-pounder Nikko Reyes.

The Knights return home on Sunday to face the No. 2 Minnesota Golden Gophers.  Minnesota, national runner-up at the 2014 NCAA Championships, enters the weekend 6-0 on the season. Before traveling to Piscataway, the Golden Gophers will face No. 15 Michigan at home on Friday night.

Three-time All-American and 157-pounder Dylan Ness was the national runner-up in 2014. 174-pounder and three-time All-American Logan Storley and two-time All-American 197-pounder Scott Schiller each finished third last year at NCAAs.

The following eight Golden Gophers enter the dual ranked by Intermat/The Open Mat/WIN Magazine:  No. 1/1/1 133-pounder Chris Dardanes, No. 4/4/4 141-pounder Nick Dardanes, No. 1/1/1 157-pounder Dylan Ness, No. 18/NR/19 165-pounder Nick Wanzek, No. 3/4/3 174-pounder Logan Storley, No. 10/10/11 184-pounder Brett Pfarr, No. 1/3/2 197-pounder Scott Schiller and No. 13/12/13 285-pounder Michael Kroells.