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No. 18 Rutgers vs. No. 4 Michigan: Wrestling Preview

Nick Suriano, Stevan Micic highlight final home dual for Scarlet Knights

Phil Bakuckas celebrates after getting the pin over Aaron Calderon of Michigan on February 7, 2016
Roy DeBoer

With two matches to go in the regular season, Rutgers will welcome in another Big Ten power into the RAC as No. 4 Michigan makes the trip to Piscataway for the first time since the 2015-16 season.

Rutgers is coming off a weekend sweep of Indiana and Purdue, which was a controlling win over the Boilermakers, and now have to prepare for a potential buzzsaw.

This one won’t be easy. Rutgers had a chance to knock off a Top 10 Michigan team three seasons ago and were then upset the next season on the road by a rising Wolverines squad that is now a premiere power in college wrestling.

According to the Flo Wrestling rankings, Michigan features eight of their 10 wrestlers within the Top 20 of their respective weight class, three in the top five, and one number one. While some upsets could lead to some craziness in seeding for the Big Ten tournament, Rutgers will need to bring their “A” game if they are going to knock off the Wolverines before finishing up with Maryland on the road.

Senior Day

Rutgers will honor some senior wrestlers before the match against Michigan: Anthony Ashnault, Nick Gravina, John Van Brill, and Ralph Normandia.

Before we break down the matchups, the NCAA coaches panel released their second set of rankings of the top 33 of each weight class, as well as RPI rankings. These two sets are big determining factors of seeding and determining qualifiers for the NCAA Tournament.

Rutgers Wrestlers Ranked in NCAA Coaches Panel

133: No. 5 Nick Suriano

149: No. 1 Anthony Ashnault

157: No. 15 John Van Brill

174: No. 27 Joe Grello

184: t-No. 33 Nick Gravina

HWT: t-No. 32 Christian Colucci

Let’s get down to business.

Preview and Predictions:

125: Shane Metzler vs. No. 13 Drew Mattin

-Metzler broke his losing streak against Purdue and helped propel a run for Rutgers to get another team victory. However, Mattin has the clear advantage here. We’ll see if Metzler can prevent bonus points.

Prediction: Mattin by MAJOR DECISION

133: No. 4 Nick Suriano vs. No. 1 Stevan Micic

-The main event of the afternoon, should it happen. These two have never wrestled but I would hope both coaching staffs give the fans a treat and allow a potential Big Ten and NCAA final preview happen here.

Micic wrestled 125 No. 1 Sebastian Rivera of Northwestern, who bumped up for a 1 vs. 1 showdown. Micic would roll to a major decision, so he definitely boosts his resume but he’ll get a different animal in Suriano.

Both wrestlers can score at will, although Micic is good on top and utilizes more tilts for points, while Suriano is more of a grind it out, take you down, and wear you down type of wrestler. It’ll be an interesting clash of styles but I’ll give the edge to Suriano due to the home environment. There’s a good chance they’ll meet again.

Prediction: Suriano by DECISION

141: Peter Lipari vs. No. 7 Kanen Storr

-Lipari has been on fire lately, but he’ll get a big challenge in Storr, the recent Iowa State transfer. He’s been really good since coming to Ann Arbor and is definitely an All-American contender. Lipari is going to need his best stuff and then some.

Prediction: Storr by DECISION

149: No. 1 Anthony Ashnault vs. Malik Amine

-Ashnault is 13-3 while Amine is 4-8 vs. common opponents. They’ll finally face off with Ashnault having a large advantage. He seemed to get back on track with a pin against Purdue. Expect win No. 113 for “Shnaulty” on Sunday.

Prediction: Ashnault by MAJOR DECISION

157: No. 17 John Van Brill vs. No. 5 Alec Pantaleo

-Another ranked matchup with Pantaleo trying to state his case to be the best wrestler in the weight class not named Jason Nolf. Van Brill does get up for these big time matchups, but he’ll need more against Pantaleo than he had against Purdue’s Griffin Parriott.

Prediction: Pantaleo by DECISION

165: Jake Benner vs. No. 7 Logan Massa

-Stephan Glasgow is not 100% and head coach Scott Goodale said they won’t put him out there until the staff feels he is ready. It’ll be Benner again who’s been up against it this season due to bouncing around a few weights. Massa seems to be back to his regular self this season after missing out on the podium in 2018 (he finished 3rd in 2017).

Prediction: Massa by TECH FALL

174: Joe Grello vs. No. 4 Myles Amine

-Grello hung in tough with Amine last season at the Big Ten tournament, losing 6-0. Amine is a real stud as he is thinking National Title this season after finishing 3rd at NCAA’s in 2018. This would be a massive upset.

Prediction: Amine by MAJOR DECISION

184: Nick Gravina vs. No. 19 Jelani Embree

-Gravina is likely to go on Sunday as Goodale said Willie Scott will be unavailable against Michigan and likely out vs. Maryland next week. Based on Goodale speaking to the media, all signs are indicating the staff is trying to get Gravina as healthy and as ready as possible for the Big Ten Tournament.

Embree has been strong since his return from injury for Michigan and the freshman is ranked, looking to make more noise. Gravina keeps everything close, but he hasn’t exploded back on to the scene this season.

Prediction: Embree by DECISION

197: Matt Correnti vs. Jackson Striggow

-Striggow beat Correnti 5-1 in their dual meet bout in Ann Arbor two years ago but Striggow has taken some good strides. We get really good performances out of Correnti, including last week vs. Christian Brunner of Purdue before getting caught and pinned, but he hasn’t knocked off a big name this season. But, with a home environment, an upset is not out of the question.

Prediction: Striggow by DECISION

HWT: Christian Colucci vs. No. 11 Mason Parris

-Parris has been fantastic as a true freshman. Colucci is going to be up against it here and will likely be trying to save bonus points.

Prediction: Parris by DECISION

Final Score: Michigan over Rutgers 28-7