Thursday, December 7, 2023

Ohio State Vs Pittsburgh Dual Preview (Sunday 12-10-2023)


I refer to this as the "Battle of the Chips."  The Ohio State Buckeyes came into the '23-'24 season underrated, under ranked  & underappreciated. They have been sticking it up the rears of their doubters the past nearly two months and they'll continue to do so throughout the remainder of the reason. They may 'only' be #12 right now, but on a good day I wouldn't count out a top four NCAA team finish.  It'd take a really good three days of wrestling, but I still wouldn't rule it out. On the same hand, Pittsburgh lays in the same limbo that they've been in since I was a kid. You can just look at the talent that they have on their team and know that yeah, they sure as Hell ought to finish within the top 25 by season's end. Matter of fact, they have the talent to finish within the top 15, dare I say the top 10? I'm not off my hinges here. I'm going based strictly on potential and while I can't see the Panthers beating the Buckeyes I don't see any reason why they shouldn't be able to hang with them.  It's a matter of stepping it up. Winning where they're supposed to & more importantly despite whatever the rankings say, winning where they can.  This has potential to be a great dual. Let's see what happens. 

U.R. Brendan McCrone Vs U.R. Colton Camacho 
125 lbs 

Despite neither being ranked at the moment, both of these wrestlers are more than capable of being NCAA DI qualifiers by the end of the season.  With that said, both are gonna need some quality victories as they go into the BIG 10's and ACC's respectively.  And yes, for either to defeat the other, that would be a quality victory or better put, by the post season I would bet that it would hold weight. McCrone is still in that freshman transitional period. He's had some nice wins thus far, but he needs some more. Camacho has been around for a while, has had some notable victories, but again, could use more. This should be a good match. 

#12 Nic Bouzakis Vs U.R. Vinnie Santaniello
133 lbs 

What matters more? A ranking or a result? Nic Bouzakis goes into this match the heavy favorite via ranking, but in their one and only collegiate meeting thus far, Santaniello nearly majored the Buckeye 11-4. This is what I mean by the Panthers can hang with the Buckeyes. It's matches like these that give the Panthers an opportunity to show that they belong in the talks of "wrestling schools." That's not to take anything away from Bouzakis though. 11-4 is quite a deficit but he got recruited to the historic BIG 10 program for a reason. Let's just say this match isn't a shoe-in for either one of these guys. It'll come down to who wants it more. 

#3 Jesse Mendez Vs #20 Cole Matthews
141 lbs 

Let's be real honest with ourselves. The 2023-2024 season has thus far not been kind to Cole Matthews. We came into the preseason thinking he might contend for the national title & now we see him ranked #20, wondering if he'll even grace the award stand. Let's face the music, the Panther is in dire need of a big caliber victory & a win over Jesse Mendez would be just what the doctor ordered. Flip the coin. Mendez has been looking outstanding thus far this year.  While Matthews suffered an upset to Illinois' Danny Pucino last weekend, Mendez totally dominated a stacked bracket to call himself CKLV champ. Momentum is a tool often used effectively in this sport, and Mendez will do his best to continue it. At the same time the story of momentum is that it is often stopped, which is exactly what Matthews will try and do. 

#5 Dylan D'Emilio Vs #18 Finn Solomon
149 lbs 

In dual meet situations 4's add up a lot faster than 3's.  That is information that I'm sure both Dylan D'Emilio and Finn Solomon are both well aware of.  The last time the two met, it was a 12-4 major decision in favor of the Buckeye. He'll want to earn such a victory over the Panther once again, while Solomon will do his best to try and keep it to a decision. As I'll stick by my original thought, Pittsburgh can hang with Ohio State in this dual. Operative word being "can."  Keeping this to a decision will be vital. 

#5 Carson Kharchla Vs #14 Luca Augustine
174 lbs 

Here's another match where the Panthers are going to want to keep things to a decision. Honestly, I see no reason at all why Luca Augustine can't keep Carson Kharchla to 7 points or less in this match. I do think that Kharchla is the better wrestler between the two, but I don't know if I think on the mat he's 9 spots better.  I guess we'll find out how right or how wrong I am Sunday. 

#11 Gavin Hoffman Vs #12 Reece Heller
184 lbs 

This match is a matter of pride. That's all it amounts to.  A matter of who wants the match more & who shows up prepared to wrestle.  I've been saying about Gavin Hoffman for years that I think he's good enough to win an NCAA title. I realize he just finished one match away from placement at CKLV. I also am well aware of the wrestlers in this weight class.  I still stand by what I said. Talent, ability, skills, who he CAN beat...Yeah, I still believe it.  Keep in mind fellow Buckeye J Jaggers won two NCAA titles & in the same years failed to place at CKLV twice!  The thing about it is though, Hoffman just needs to go out on the mat and do it.  What it's gonna take it beating guys like Reece Heller. That's what it's gonna require & it's as simple as either he's going to or he isn't. 

Looking at Reece Heller, he's in a similar boat. He's got more time on the clock than does Hoffman, but he's still in a situation where if he wants to finish better than he did last year, he's gonna need those big wins under his belt. For team's sake alone, a win here would be huge for the panthers. 

U.R. Luke Geog Vs #14 Mac Stout
197 lbs 

Here's the kinda match that makes a dual, a dual. I often talk to others about the vast differences between tournaments and duals & this match helps to illustrate. As eluded to previously, the Buckeyes are coming in here wanting to totally dominate & put to bed the theory that the Panthers might be able to hang with them.  The Panthers come in here wanting to show that they're a team to be respected.  It's a match like this that can determine whose philosophy rings true by night's end.  Based on ranking, this is an opportunity for Pittsburgh to get some bonus points on the board. A top 15 wrestler should be able to handle one that isn't currently in the top 33. On the same hand, rankings don't always mean that much, and despite not being #33 or better, Luke Geog is a very tough wrestler.  Not only can he keep it close with Stout, I wouldn't necessarily rule out an upset.  This one is more so about the team aspect than it is the individual. We'll see what unfolds. 

#18 Nick Feldman Vs #10 Dayton Pitzer 

If nothing more, what interest me most about this match is that these two have polar opposite builds. Nick Feldman is built like a brickhouse. Huge thick neck, big abnormally broad back with humongous traps. I mean if they ever make a Battle Toads movie we have our leading role. On the same hand Pitzer has to be the most lean, long and lanky HWT I've ever seen. He may not have the scary looking body builder type physique but you can just tell by watching him wrestle that he's freakishly strong. Similar to that of Minnesota's Jacob Volkmann from about 20 years ago. Just has a grip & an ability to snatch forearms for bars and hammers at will.  How does this match end? I'm not sure, but what I do know is that it'll be vital for either team. Ohio State doesn't even want Pittsburgh to sniff an upset & if they can win here, they most likely won't.  On the same hand Pittsburgh wants to show Ohio State, hey, you may think we're far away, but we're actually a lot closer than you think.  

Look forward to this dual, because it will be a good one! 

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