With only a few dual meet matches left in the 2022-23 season, No. 23 Rutgers Wrestling (9-5, 1-4) will head down to Maryland this weekend to take on the suddenly frisky Terps (8-6, 0-5) for a Saturday afternoon dual on the Big Ten Network.
Last time out, the Scarlet Knights were handled by No. 13 Northwestern, 28-6, in which Rutgers lost virtually every toss up bout with the final match-split being 8-2. They’ll need to rebound Saturday against the Terps, who are starting to see the fruit of the rebuilding process Coach Alex Clemson started four years ago.
Maryland comes into the match with five wrestlers currently ranked by Intermat, led by No. 13 at 197lbs, redshirt freshman Jaxon Smith.
The Scarlet Knights also have five ranked wrestlers currently in the lineup and are led by their own redshirt freshman, No. 12 Dean Peterson at 125lbs.
For the first time in what seems like a while, Rutgers matches up very well with an opponent and could be in line for a big win on Saturday. The aforementioned Peterson will have another ranked matchup on his hands against No. 18 Braxton Brown, who comes into the dual on a nine match win streak.
The Terps also sport ranked wrestlers at 149 and 157lbs with No. 18 Ethen Miller and No. 32 Michael North respectively. The two could square off against a pair of Rutgers wrestlers that have struggled in Big Ten action this season, going a combined 1-9, in Tony White and Andrew Clark.
Clark specifically looks like he could be on the verge of a breakout though, as he’s fallen by two or fewer points in four of five of those losses.
If White and Clark can pick up ranked wins in this spot, it could be huge for seeding implications at the Big Ten tournament.
At 197lbs, Billy Janzer will look to continue his streak of strong performances against No. 13 Jaxon Smith, another matchup with big seeding implications. Janzer has show his strength and grittiness throughout the season and I expect the same in this spot.
At heavyweight, indications are that No. 26 Boone McDermott could be suiting up for the first time since he suffered a knee injury on January 8th against Rider. If the big Scarlet Knight can go, he’ll likely face No. 27 Jaron Smith, which would be Boone’s first action in a Big Ten dual this season.
The Scarlet Knights have won the past seven matchups against the Terps and they really need to keep that streak alive this weekend. The fanbase has been rumbling more than I’ve heard in a while after the losses to Indiana and Northwestern, so a statement win would do a lot to satiate their concerns.
I like Rutgers to take this one with a scoreline of 26-9 or 29-6, but either way, Scarlet Knights by a bunch. I think they can grab bonus points at 133, 141, and 184lbs which will help to inflate the final tally.
Action kicks off Saturday, February 4th, at 2:00PM on the Big Ten Network.