The Beef - After a somewhat uncustomary vacation over the New Year break (when most programs typically compete in either the Midlands in Chicago or Southern Scuffle down in Tennessee), the Tigers get back to the mats this weekend in the friendly confines of Columbia, as they take on MAC foe Buffalo at 7pm in the Hearnes on Friday (which is the annual "Beauty and the Beast" meet, back after a one-year hiatus, which couples with the Gymnastics team), followed by a big-time dual against Cornell on Sunday in Jesse Auditorium. Let’s talk about Buffalo real quick…any wrestlers on their lineup jump out at you which may present his Tiger counterpart with a stiff challenge?
Shaffe - Browsing Intermat it doesn’t appear Buffalo has any wrestlers ranked in the top 20 nationally at any weight class, so this should be a pretty easy dual for the Tigers. This could also be a match where, despite the long layoff since the last time out, we see some guys take the mat that we don’t usually see. I’m not expecting a shutout or anything, but it would surprise me to see the Bulls crack 10 points as a team.
BST - Agree with Shaffer here. Not a ton to look forward to here. Maybe a chance for a few guys to take a bit longer to make weight, or to work on some technique things in a live match. Buffalo isn't exactly a big dog.
The Beef - If you take a look at the dual from last year, the Tigers won 43-6, giving up a forfeit at 133 when Zack Synon did not wrestle. You also saw Cole Baumgartner (instead of Mayes) get a pin at 141 (in a match where I believe his opponent ended up pinning himself), Le’Roy Barnes (instead of Drake) get a pin at 149 and Cody Johnston (instead of Eblen) get a pin at 174. So to Shaffe’s point, we may see some names we don’t necessarily expect to see.
(note: after this was written, Mizzou released their match notes which said they expected to start Cole Baumgartner at 141 and Le’roy Barnes at 157)
On to the names we expect to see, let’s start at the top against Cornell and move through the lineup. How might this one shake out for the Tigers?
BST – Heres the wrestle stats team comparison: http://www.wrestlestats.com/team/dualcomparison/20/cornell/43/missouri
Shaffe - This one should be a barnburner for sure. Cornell isn’t as deep as some of the other teams at the top of the national rankings, but their big guns are BIG guns. 125 will see Barlow McGhee take on an unranked freshman Dalton Macri in a match that Barlow should take relatively easily. Here I will be looking to see if McGhee has made any adjustments to his game to maybe avoid looking so passive and picking up so many stall warnings with the new emphasis this year. 4 points would be a nice start to this dual here.
The Beef - We can circle back to 125 (though Cornell appears to trot out a relatively inexperienced wrestler against the #8 ranked McGhee), but the head to head comparison for Garrett and Synon at 133. Everyone they have wrestled in common, Garrett has beaten them all, and Synon has lost to all but one (Petrov of Bucknell from a match two years ago). However, we all remember Garrett not making weight last year at 125 (in the much anticipated match against Waters) and moving up to 133, and promptly getting beaten by Synon 6-2.
Shaffe - I don’t think we can put much weight into Synon’s head to head win last year against a guy who was cutting hard down to 125 and just missing it. Obviously Garrett is a damn beast this year and as long as Zach doesn’t get pinned I’ll be happy with the result.
BST - Ok, I'll take 141lbs. Matt Manley will face off against Mark Grey most likely, for the first time in almost 2 years. Manley does have a 3-0 decision loss against Grey, but as I said that was quite some time ago. Grey is not ranked in the top 20 by any of the major publications (Manley is around 10-11), but he will be a solid opponent none the less. I think this is a good opportunity for Manley to come out of the break and show that he can beat guys who aren't in that NCAA knockout round range, and that he can do so convincingly. I'd be quite happy with a MD and some team points out of Manley here.
Shaffe - Let’s move on to 149, shall we?
Lavion Mayes is awesome and will beat his opponent quite easily. He will get a break for the Buffalo dual and will show some rust for the first period before putting things away late. Look to see if he continues to break out his top game like he started to show last month on the Tour d’Ohio.
BST - 157 is about as big a tossup as you can get. Cornell looks to run out Matt Russo against Mizzou's Luke Fortuna. These 2 only have 1 common opponent. Russo was pinned by Carrera of Navy while Fortuna has split 2 decisions. I think this is the sort of match that wins you these duals. Toss ups being taken down by younger guys are huge for the team, and of course for building towards the future of the individual.
165 should see a match up of 2 top 20 wrestlers. Beef would you like to break down Pickett vs Daniel Effing Lewis?
The Beef - Well, it would appear the wrestlestat website is not entirely accurate, as I see Lewis having already beaten Pickett 4-2 in the consolation semis out in Vegas last month.
Beyond that, Pickett is a senior who appears to have cut down to 165 after three seasons at 174. He made the NCAA’s last year for the first time in his career, going two and out. This season, he had a tight, 2-0 loss to current #15 Austin Wilson of Nebraska and a 6-2 loss to current #10 Anthony Perrotti of Rutgers. He had a win over now #18 McFadden of Va Tech while out in Vegas, but also fell (aside from the Lewis match) to #2 Bo Jordan of Ohio State. At the Scuffle last week, Pickett made it to the semis with a couple of easy matches and a solid win against current #19 Morelli of Penn State (SV1, 3-1). He drew a very solid Logan Massa of Michigan, who is wrestling unattached this season, in the semis and lost 7-3. He then also lost to #16 Preisch of Lehigh before forfeiting out against Morelli in the 5th place match.
All in all, he seems to be ranked pretty exactly (he is #17 with wins over 18 and 19 and losses to 15 and 16). It would be a solid win for Lewis, but one which I still will expect him to get.
That gets us to 174 and the first of the two high-end matches this dual will feature.
Shaffe – These next two matches are probably the highlight of the dual. Cornell’s Brian Realbuto was ranked in the top 3 by most pundits before having a rough go at the Southern Scuffle last weekend. Realbuto, after bumping up from 165 this year, was having himself a very nice undefeated season until he ran into Penn State’s Bo Nikal in the semifinals. Nikal won that match with a rather convincing 14-7 score which isn’t all that surprising considering the quality of wrestler Nikal is. Realbuto then went out and dropped a somewhat surprising match to Kasey Kent of Pennsylvania and then capped off his weekend by also losing the 5th place match to Oklahoma State’s Kyle Crutchmer to complete the rare three straight loss tournament.
Butler/Realbuto was supposed to happen last month out in Las Vegas but Butler went and got himself beat in the semifinals by Bryce Hammond. I haven’t seen nearly enough out of either of these guys to analyze how their styles will match up, but I do know based on the overall quality of these two their head to head matchup should be very exciting to watch. If Cornell is going to challenge for this dual they absolutely must have this match. Realbuto might come out very strong looking to put last weekend’s disappointment behind him so Butler will have to be on his game from the opening whistle.
This match though is just an appetizer for the tasty matchup awaiting at 184. What can we expect after this one, BST?
BST - Ok, Big Willie style has by my count faced the reigning NCAA champ Gabe Dean 3 times in his career. In order they have gone 6-3, 4-2, 3-2, against Miklus. Gabe Dean is an out and out stud. Dude is undefeated this year, having only 3 matches result in decisions. THREE! Those scores were 10-5, 8-2, 3-2. Miklus has been the closest to Dean all year. I think Willie is one of maybe 3 other guys at 184 that has a legit shot at upsetting Dean for a few reasons. He is big for the weight class, he is as strong as just about anyone at 184, and he flat out goes onto the mat every time knowing he can beat the guy across from him.
Outside of maybe Daniel Lewis, Miklus is my favorite wrestler to watch in the black and gold. Anything can and will happen in one of his matches, and its so much fun to see him put guys on their backs. I am not predicting a win from Willie here, wait, screw it. I am! Willie will beat Dean and give him his first loss in over a calendar year. Mark it down!
The Beef - If I had to make a prediction, I would say that based on the trending of their matches, Miklus will lose a match in OT before finally breaking through against Dean.
Shaffe - For my money Miklus/Dean is probably the biggest individual matchup of this second semester for the Tigers. There’s some other huge ones looming against the Pokes and Wolfpack, but this one is going to be awesome.
The Beef - Alright gents…let’s finish it up. What will J’Den see at 197 on Sunday?
Shaffe - Well since this dual is taking place on a stage at Jesse Hall hopefully he doesn’t dump his guy off the mat again. Other than that I don’t think J’Den will get a huge challenge here as Cornell doesn’t have anybody ranked in the top 20 by Intermat at this weight. I’d look for a possible major decision here to hopefully cinch up the dual before the heavies take their turn.
BST - Another BOLD prediction. Romero will either pin his opponent, or be pinned. There is no in between for this young man.
Mizzou wins 24-13.
McGhee, Manley, Mayes, Fortuna, Lewis, Miklus, and Cox with victories.
The Beef - I am a little concerned this might come down to HWY, but I don’t know that Cornell’s HWY is that strong either. But in my head, I had the dual at 17-13 Mizzou going into the HWY match, so Romero may need to get a decision (if match does turn out to be the final of the dual).
Any predictions to close us out Shaffe?
Shaffe - I see Mizzou as easily favored at 125, 149, 165, and 197 for sure. Manley at 141 should probably take care of business rather easily. That right there makes a 5-5 split with bonus points deciding the match, and that's giving Cornell both tossups at 157 and HWT. My bold prediction for the match, based on nothing at all, is that Joey Lavallee makes his season debut this weekend and picks up the victory at 157 for the Tigers and, combined with Daniel Lewis taking his slightly favored match at 165, has the requisite 7 point cushion without taking Romero into account. If he picks up a victory then the overall score will look lopsided, if he gets beat then it'll look close (hard hitting analysis there I know). Ultimately though I don't think Cornell has enough strength throughout the entirety of their lineup to take down a dual against the Tigers. Give me something in the neighborhood of a 22-14 final with the Tigers picking up 6 victories out of 10.