No. 1 Spencer Lee vs. Gary Steen
And before you start yelling at your computer screen, no, I do not think at this point in their wrestling careers that there is any universe in which Steen is going to beat Lee.
Spencer Lee is on a different planet right now and of his 10 victories, seven have come by fall and the remaining three were a technical fall and two major decisions.
A week ago, Lee pinned Nebraska’s competitive grappler at 125, Liam Cronin, in 38 seconds.
Based on the possibility of there being several toss up matches in this dual, it will be important that Steen can put up a fight and not get pinned. Ideally if Lee wins only a major decision it would be a huge win for the Nittany Lions.
No. 2 Real Woods vs. No. 4 Beau Bartlett
This is me simply keeping with my time honored tradition of always including Beau Bartlett in my “Key Matchups”.
But in all seriousness, this is a massive matchup for both wrestlers.
Woods has already faced several top guys on the year as he beat No. 6 Brock Hardy in a 6-4 decision and smoked No. 11 Frankie Tal-Shahar in a 17-2 technical fall.
Bartlett has faced a handful of ranked wrestlers, and so far on the year, he’s looked like a different guy on the mat at 141. But this is by far his biggest test.
No. 15 Cobe Siebrecht vs. Terrell Barraclough or No. 9 Levi Haines
As I eluded to earlier, I really have no idea which wrestler Cael Sanderson is going to go with at 157 for the rest of the year.
Haines is dangerously close to burning his redshirt and Barraclough has improved on the mat this year. And either way I still believe this could be a toss up match.
Seibrecht is no slouch and he’s already taken out the No. 12, No. 16, and No. 18 wrestlers at 157. And while Haines has really looked impressive, he’s still a true freshman. Wrestling in the pressure cooker that is a Penn State/Iowa matchup is just different.
No. 3 Tony Cassioppi vs. No. 2 Greg Kerkvliet
Kerk Kong lost to Cassioppi in both last year’s dual meet against Iowa and in the 2022 Big Ten Championships.
And as good as Kerkvliet looked last year coupled with the fact he was 3-0 against Mason Parris, it appeared the only person standing in his way would be Gable Steveson.
But for some reason Cass gave Greg some trouble.
Fast forward to now and Kerkvliet is coming off a loss to Parris last Friday in a stall-fueled 3-1 decision and Cassioppi is a perfect 16-0.
Earlier in the season, Greg and Tony already locked horns in the NWCA All-Star Classic. Kerkvliet came out on top with an 8-5 decision, however this was purely an exhibition and the results don’t count towards any collegiate stats.
I’m not going to put much stock in the exhibition win, but something tells me Kerkvliet is going to be ready for this matchup.