Today at 1 p.m. the No. 24 Rutgers wrestling team (6-1, 1-1) will be wrestling in their third Big Ten dual meet of the season on the road at Michigan State (4-3, 0-1).
Both teams wrestled on Friday night, with Rutgers suffering a 22-13 loss at the hands of the No. 5 Ohio State Buckeyes, and Michigan State losing a close 22-14 contest at No. 25 Michigan.
Rutgers is an astonishing 4-0-1 all time against the Spartans, including last years 22-20 win at the RAC. In last years match, the Scarlet Knights won six out of ten bouts but allowed 12 points due to a pin and an injury default making the match much closer.
Michigan State is a vastly improved team within the Big Ten and is coming off their first winning season since 2002. In their match with No. 25 Michigan on Friday, they had a chance to pull off the upset, trailing 16-14 heading into the final bout of the evening where they surrendered a pin.
The Spartans will pose some challenges to Rutgers, as I see a potential of five toss up matches. But first, lets begin with the matches Rutgers should win based on the projected match-ups.
125: No. 14 Nicolas Aguilar (15-4) vs. Logan Griffin (13-7)
Aguilar has been wrestling great lately, and is coming off a convincing major decision victory at Ohio State. Griffin is a redshirt senior, but Aguilar is the superior wrestler and should take care of business here.
133: No. 11 Sammy Alvarez (16-4) vs. No. 25 Garrett Pepple (11-8)
REVENGE MATCH! Alvarez lost to Pepple 6-2 back on November 23rd at the Navy Classic. Since that loss, Alvarez has rattled off eight straight wins. This could be considered a toss up match, but with the way Alvarez is wrestling as of late, I expect him to continue to roll.
141: JoJo Aragona (8-4) vs. Matt Santos (10-9)
Both wrestlers have one common opponent, Kyle Shoop of Lock Haven. Santos lost to Shoop 11-0, Aragona lost a 6-5 battle. Expect Aragona to step up and earn a decision here for the Scarlet Knights.
174: No. 19 Joe Grello (5-3) vs. Layne Malczewski (15-7)
Grello has been in a bit of a rut lately, losing three out of his last four matches. Expect the former NCAA tournament qualifier to step up and win a close match against a tough redshirt freshman.
197: No. 17 Jordan Pagano (14-5) vs. Nick May (10-9)
Pagano is the better wrestler here, plain and simple. This is a spot where he should be looking for more than just a decision to secure some bonus points for the Scarlet Knights.
Now to the toss-ups. These are matches that could go either way, and will likely decide the outcome of the match.
149: Gerard Angelo (10-7) vs. Alex Hrisopoulos (9-6)
Last year, Rutgers’ Pete Lipari beat Hrisopoulos 4-2 at the RAC. This should be a very close match, with a slight edge to Hrisopoulos based on results against common opponents.
157: Mike VanBrill (14-8) vs. No. 21 Jacob Tucker (17-4)
This is a great spot for VanBrill to pick up a ranked win in what should be a tight match. In last year’s dual meet, John VanBrill (older brother of Mike) beat Tucker 4-2 at the same weight.
165: Brett Donner (13-8) vs. Drew Hughes (10-5)
Donner lost to Hughes 8-2 back in November at the Navy Classic. This is the one weight class where I feel as if Michigan State has a clear advantage, but if Donner can keep it closer than last time he’ll certainly have a shot at redemption.
184: Billy Janzer (12-4) vs. No. 18 Cameron Caffey (15-5)
This could be another REVENGE MATCH! Janzer lost to Caffey 6-4 at the Navy Classic. A win over Caffey would almost certainly propel Janzer into the top 25 rankings, and I like his chances. Hopefully Janzer can build off his momentous win on Friday, where he scored a last second takedown to steal a win over Ohio State’s Rocky Jordan.
HWT: Alex Esposito (13-9) OR Matt Correnti (10-5) vs. Christain Rebottaro (12-7)
It will be interesting to see who Head Coach Scott Goodale decides to send out against Rebottaro. With normal starter Christian Colucci out due to injury, Goodale can either send out backup heavyweight Esposito, or backup 197-pounder Correnti. Versus Ohio State, Goodale opted for Correnti, who lost a heart-breaker in overtime. A lot of this decision will likely come down to the current score of the match, as I am sure Goodale already has a preferred wrestler in mind for this match. Either way, both Esposito and Correnti are capable of beating Rebottaro. Correnti has wrestled Rebottaro once before during last season, and lost in overtime. Esposito has never wrestled the Michigan State opponent.
Final Score Prediction: Rutgers 19, Michigan State 12