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Mizzou Wrestling: MIZ-ZOU vs. O-H-I-O

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The Tigers welcome the defending national champion Buckeyes (as well as the Bobcats) to the Hearnes this coming weekend with their streak of consecutive dual wins on the line. Will it continue?

The Tigers have their work cut out for them on Saturday night
The Tigers have their work cut out for them on Saturday night
Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

The Beef - Gentlemen, lots to cover, so let’s get right to it.  Before we discuss the big dual meet this coming weekend against defending National Champion Ohio State (and the MAC meet against Ohio U the next day), let me first ask you a question.  I saw this tweeted about by Ben Askren over the weekend and wanted to get your opinion on his thoughts.

Should a wrestler need to score some near fall points in order to earn the riding time bonus point?

BST - I saw that too. There has been LOTS of discussion recently around scoring for folk style matches. TR Foley over at Intermat (who does a really good job with his Friday mailbags) has been a big proponent of updating the scoring standards and making the matches more crowd friendly. I think that requiring something besides just the RT should be implemented, or maybe an either/or sort of thing. Bump RT up to 2 minutes if no back points are scored and just 1 minute if you have gotten back points. Racking up 2+ minutes of RT is damn tough at the college level and I think this would give wrestlers more incentive to work harder on top to get those extra points, and it turn would give the guy on bottom more opportunities for reversals and escapes.

Eliminating "lazy riding" should be a big task for USA Wrestling. The last thing people want to see is a dude just laying out there and trying to run out the match. Keep them working and looking for more. Keep fans involved and the wrestlers active.

Shaffe - I agree that "lazy riding" is something that should be attempted to eliminate in the college game, but I’m not sure if requiring back points to get the riding point is the way to do it. For one, if you don’t get your opponent on his back during the initial takedown it can be really tough to flip him over. For two, even if you don’t get your guy flipped over that doesn’t mean you’re not doing hard work to keep him down. The recent rules about hanging onto legs and making attempts to return your opponent to the mat once they get up I think have helped a little in this arena and I think I could get behind some sort of blended proposal like BST mentioned about 2+ minutes getting you the riding time point even without any back points. Take for example Daniel Lewis’s match this past weekend against Cooper Moore. I wasn’t able to watch the actual video of the match, but Lewis wasn’t able to get Moore on his back because Moore is a damn good athlete yet Lewis was able to keep him down for over 3 minutes over the course of the match. For me that should be rewarded with a riding time point regardless of what happened in the match. Upping the threshold to 2+ minutes I believe would almost ensure that lazy riders wouldn’t get the riding time point.

The Beef - I agree with Shaffe that I don’t want to see the point completely removed if back points are not achieved.  There are elements of control which I would hate to see removed entirely from the sport.  I agree the rule changes on the leg riding and returning were appropriate, and I could certainly see something like moving the threshold to 2 minutes or awarding an additional point for riding if it includes back points or something.  But to totally remove it I think is too big of a change.

Alright, let’s take a quick look at the new Intermat rankings and how the Tigers moved up (many of them considerably) after their week in Vegas. Any surprises (for good or bad?)

BST - Everyone improved or stayed the same in their rankings except for Blaise Butler. I know these things are a bit reactionary, but I think him dropping from 5th to 9th is well over reactionary at this point. Dude dropped one match he shouldn't have. I hope he comes back out this weekend and wrestles with a vengeance to make up for it. The big gainer of the week is of course, my boy, Daniel (I only pin) Lewis, who went from unranked to 9th in the 165lb weight class.

Shaffe - I think for the most part the ranking changes are fair, but in the same vein that Butler may have fallen a bit lower than he should I think Barlow McGhee may be a bit overrated right now. He’s having a really good season but I’m not sure I buy him as a top 10 wrestler at his weight class just yet.

The Beef - Well…McGhee will certainly have a chance to prove that ranking this weekend, when he (presumably) gets to take on the #1 wrestler in the country.

For me, I can see this dual coming down to HWY, which likely does not bode well for the Tigers given their current situation in that slot. I think tOSU can win this with decisions, while the Tigers will need some pretty serious bonus points to take it. Where do you see the Tigers best shot at winning matches against the defending national (tournament) champions?

Shaffe - Operating on the assumption that Ohio State has a healthy and full strength lineup I see good opportunities for victories at 149, 165/174(whichever one Bo Jordan doesn’t wrestle at), and 197. The only one of those three in my opinion that Mizzou could hope to pick up a major decision in is Lavion Mayes against whoever takes the mat for the Buckeyes as they do not feature a top-20 ranked wrestler at this weight. The fun thing about this dual is that there appears to be a TON of tossup matches so the overall score has, in my opinion, a pretty decent probability variance.

BST - I'd say I lean a bit more towards the pessimism side of things with Beef. Quickly going through the match-ups I'd say Mizzou wins 149, 165, 184 & 197. There is maybe 1 more real tossup in there, which doesn't bode well for the Fighting Smiths. This dual has the feel of a 21-14 loss, Mizzou's first in a few years. IF, and big IF Mayes, Lews, Miklus, and Cox all get extra team points and Manley or someone else pick up a tossup match, we may have a shot. Those aren't the odds you like to see though.

The Beef - I see us losing decisions at 125 and 133, where we have ranked wrestlers, but ones which are not as highly ranked as tOSU.  Probably the same at 141, though that could be a bit of a toss-up with how Manley seems to be improving.  Agreed that 149 is weighted somewhat heavily in our favor, but 157 likely is the opposite.  165 could be big for us, especially if Lewis can pin again.  174 (if Jordan) could be a real toss-up, but I have to favor Jordan over Butler.  Courts/Miklus at 184 is a true toss-up.  I expect J’Den to win at 197, but Martin is no slouch, and then Tavanello has a lot of experience where Romero really does not.

Anyone else before we take a quick look at the Ohio U dual the next afternoon?

Shaffe - I see 141, 184, and whichever Jordan wrestles of 165/174 deciding the dual. If Mizzou can’t win at least 2 of those 3 then they’re going to be in trouble if Ohio State is full strength. If Mizzou does win 2 of those 3 along with victories at 149, 165/174, and 197 then things could be very tight in the end. The real tipping factor may be Ohio State’s health as DiJulius came up lame last weekend and Bo Jordan didn’t even wrestle. I don’t see Ohio State pushing the pedal to the metal this weekend with guys despite the big opportunity at picking up a big dual win, so 133 and both of 165/174 could very quickly swing the Tigers’ way.

BST – Moving to Ohio, they have a few legit guys that shouldn't be taken lightly. Chino is #19 at 157, Walters #6 at 174, and Phil Wellington is #13 at 197. Luckily they don't have a whole lot of depth at the other weights. I'll be interested to see how Fortuna and Butler especially match up against Chino and Walters. These matches will of course be important for the MAC tournament seeding, but the dual overall shouldn't be much of a competition.

Shaffe - I see this dual going pretty similarly to the Northern Iowa MAC opener, only maybe a bit more favoring to Mizzou. Ohio will probably win 2-3 individual matches but I don’t see the Bobcats taking the dual overall. I’m looking forward to seeing if J’Den Cox continues his newly (re)found aggressiveness against a quality opponent and to see if Butler can stake a claim to get back in or around the top 5 nationally at 174.