Assuming Mizzou is able to get past the #14 ranked Nittany Lions at 9am, they would then face the Huskers coming back at 1pm. The 4/5 matchup would likely lead to a semi-final showdown against the #1 seeded Iowa Hawkeyes who are the unanimous #1 team in the nation following their come-from-behind win at the Midlands Tournament. What would this quarterfinal matchup have in store for the Tigers? Let's take a look...and remember...any prediction of mine is not likely based on a whole hell of a lot of personal knowledge :-)
As always, rankings are courtesy of Intermat, who finally put up the individual rankings (which were not available yesterday for the Penn State preview when I wrote it)
125: This weight class might hold one of the key swing matches in this dual, and something of a rarity as neither team will put a ranked wrestler out on the mat. For the Huskers, Andy Pokorny last took a 12-6 loss to #11 Watts of Michigan, but had been up in the match 6-4 after a pretty back and forth 1st period. On the other side, Troy Dolan won a couple of matches at the Midlands and took a 5-2 loss against #4 Nicholson of ODU. It would be huge for the Tigers to get a win here, but this screams toss-up to me at this juncture between the two redshirt freshmen.
133: Senior Patrick Aleksanyian for Nebraska has made the NCAA tournament previously, though it was back in 2006 and it was at 141 pounds. Since then, he has been plagued by injury a bit. In his last outing, he won a key victory for the Huskers over an unranked Michigan wrestler. Todd Schavrien (who is curiously no longer ranked even though he had wins over ranked opponents at Midlands) has shown solid improvement for the Tigers of late, and will need to keep that upswing going to score what should be a win here.
A little more on Schavrien's (non) ranking. He defeated #19 Hutter and #13 Beebe, but lost to the NOW ranked #18 DeShazer...but still fell out. I find that to be strange.
141: OK...so this is getting strange for me. After a toss-up at 125 and a presumed (but close) win at 133, I have to give the edge to the Tigers once again at this weight. Mizzou should be hitting the mat with now #10 Marcus Hoehn, who has had a great year thus far and has shown tremendous improvement over last season. For the Huskers, true freshman John Burns is likely to get the call, fresh off of a 8-0 major decision loss to #4 Russell of Michigan. Hoehn and the Tigers need to take advantage of these matchups when they present themselves, but I expect a win here for the Tigers.
149: So...here I thought Mizzou was a little weak at the lightweights...NU does not have a wrestler ranked in the first four classes. Of course, losing NCAA champ Paul Donahoe at 125 and #13 ranked (last season) Kenny Jordan at 133 hurt quite a bit, but think of where they might be if not for those losses. Anyway, senior Andrew Sherry should likely get the call for the Tigers against 2006 NCAA qualifier senior Robert Sanders. Sanders scored an important 6-2 win last time out against an unranked Mchigan opponent, and with his experience, I figure he is the slight favorite here against Sherry.
157: Now...here is a great match...and it is proving to be a busy weekend for #7 Mike Chandler. He will draw #2 Jordan Burroughs, who is new to 157 after finishing 3rd last year at 149. Burroughs is a takedown machine, who won his last match against an unranked Michigan wrestler 24-8 on 10 takedowns. Chandler will have his work cut out for him, that is for certain.
165: A great stretch of matches, as the tilt at 165 should be just as good. #8 Nick Marable against #7 Stephen Dwyer. Last year in the Big XII Championships, Marable won his standard 3-2 match, getting the initial takedown and trading escapes from there. This season, he has added some offense in parts, but has disappointed in others. Dwyer last took a major decision over an unranked NU wrestler, and the junior who finished 8th last year at the NCAA's will certainly be looking for a measure of revenge against Marable.
174: Good lord...another great one as now #6 Raymond Jordan sees his first conference action against one of the best in #2 Brandon Browne. Browne lost 4-2 in his most recent action, but it was to #1 Steve Luke of Michigan. Jordan also lost his last match, but that was to #2 Jay Borschel of Iowa. Browne was taken to the wire last year at the Big XII Championships by stand-in Emaunel Brooks in semis 7-6 before winning a thriller of Mason of Okie State for the Big XII title. He would take that to St. Louis and finish 4th. Another stiff test for Jordan at his new weight, and one the Tigers may need to win.
184: #14 senior Vince Jones lost a tough match last time out to #11 Biondo of Michigan 9-6 where a late reversal gave Biondo 2 points and the needed riding time advantage for the final margin. Dorian Henderson has displayed the ability to wrestle well so far, and Mizzou fans should be excited for his future. However, against the experienced Jones here, Mizzou fans should be pleasantly surprised if Henderson is able to pull it out.
197: Another barn-burner here as #4 Max Askren will get another match with now #1 Craig Brester. Asken knocked off Brester last year in the Big XII Championships 8-3, but Brester would get the better of Askren at the NCAA tourney on his way to a 4th place finish there. Last time out for Brester saw him score an important major decision over an unranked Michigan wrestler. Another swing match here to be sure.
HWY: #17 RS Frosh Tucker Lane had a great true frosh year with a pretty impressive 27-3 record in unattached action. Just another ranked heavyweight for the Big XII conference, Lane will likely be staring down the Big XII Wrestler of the Week in now #2 Mark Ellis. Who knows, the dual could come down to this very match, but I have to give Ellis the nod here to close out the action.
Alright...let's go back and see what we got. I show three pretty confident wins for Mizzou (133, 141 and HWY), three pretty confident wins for the Huskers (149, 157 and 184) and a hell of a lot of toss-ups (125, 165, 174 and 197). A win in this dual will be determined in the bonus points and where they fall, but these two teams are REALLY closely matched.
Tomorrow, we will take a look at the assumed opponent for the Tigers if they are able to get past the Huskers, the #1 Iowa Hawkeyes just to see how Mizzou might match up there, which I am somehow thinking is not going to be quite as advantageous as we did with Penn State and not as close as we did with Nebraska.