It'll be a dual of youth Vs experience when Illinois takes on Ohio State this Friday. Many of the matches will feature underclassmen Vs upperclassmen. Should be a good fun dual. While both 157 & 197 should easily be taken by the Buckeyes without much to note, we have 8 other bouts of interest. BIG 10+ will be providing coverage.
| U.R. U.R.
Justin Cardani Brendan McCrone
Two time NCAA DI qualifier Justin Cardani still hasn't seemed to have recovered after missing all of last season due to injury. Thus far '23-'24 has been a struggle for him as he has returned to the mats. The Illini senior could use a moment of solace & a win over Bendan McCrone would provide it. On the flip side, the young Buckeye wants as many quality wins as he can rack up as he continues his first year of varsity wrestling for the Scarlet & gray. While not a ranked win, I'd still call Cardani a quality win.
| U.R. #14
Anthony Madrigal Nic Bouzakis
A three time NCAA DI qualifier, Anthony Madrigal is getting the shaft being left out of the rankings. I can understand that to a degree as he hasn't competed much this season, but others who are in the same boat, weren't overlooked, so not sure why he was. Regardless, he'll find himself back in the rankings if he can garner a win over Nic Bouzakis on Friday. Bouzakis on the other hand is much in the same boat as is teammate McCrone. On a mission to collect as many quality wins as he can into his rookie season as a Buckeye. Madrigal, again even though not currently ranked would be a quality win. In a senior Vs freshman match, I look for this to be action packed.
Danny Pucino Jesse Mendez
Jesse Mendez is highly favored in this contest. It's a match that he should win easily enough, but I will say that despite being unranked, Danny Pucino is no pushover. He recently took 4th place at the Midlands & has had some good wins thus far this season. I think the Buckeyes are expecting bonus points here at 141. I can't say it'd surprise me if they got them, but I can say that it wouldn't surprise me at all if they didn't.
| #10 #5
Kannon Webster Dylan D'Emilio
Here's an underclassmen Vs upperclassmen match that I am really looking forward to. Kannon Webster is a true freshman that has thus far looked phenomenal into his first season wearing the blue and orange. He looked outstanding capturing a 3rd place finish at the Midlands & I'm excited to see what else he can do this season. Dylan D'Emilio in his own right has been pretty outstanding. He really stepped it up a notch at the end of last season, earning All American honors at the NCAA DI championships. He's continued his run throughout this season, racking up 16 wins & taking a very impressive 4th place finish at CKLV. For either one of these guys, a win over the other is one to notch on the belt.
Chris Moore Bryce Hepner
The guys over at wrestlestat.com are predicting Moore over Hepner in an upset. I tell you what, that'd be a heck of a good win for the young Illini if he were to pull it off. Off of a redshirt, only a sophomore himself, Hepner currently holds a 6-1 record. I myself am going with the Buckeye, but I do think this will be a good match between two good wrestlers.
| #3 #6
Ed Ruth Carson Kharchla
Here's the match of the dual my fellow wrestling enthusiasts! Midlands gold Vs CKLV bronze, as Ed Ruth takes on Carson Kharchla. Looking very forward to this match between these outstanding talents. You want what should be on the marquee? This bout at 174.
Dylan Connell Gavin Hoffman
The remarks about the one, resemble the marks about the other when comparing Dylan Connell & Gavin Hoffman. Both have had ups & downs thus far in their collegiate careers. Connell at Midlands & Hoffman at Cliff Keen, neither had the results they were hoping for in either prestigious in-season tournament. I've written about Hoffman so many times over the past 5 1/2 years. My perspective on the Buckeye has never changed. Talent? Ability? Potential? As to those three categories, he's a 10/10 as far as I'm concerned. Performance? Making it actually happen? Herein lies the issue. An on fire, wrestling like he did at the 2022 NCAA DI championships Hoffman is liable to major Connell. Get those important bonus points for the Buckeyes. We might not see that Hoffman here though and it's not lost on me that this could turn out to be a huge win for the sophomore Illini.
Luke Luffman Nick Feldman
The days of the big, fat HWT are over & the days of the slimmed down, muscular HWT are in. Both Luke Luffman & Nick Feldman are both powerful, strong & burly HWTs. To me Luke Luffman is like a large heavy cement block. I don't mean that in the way that he moves himself, but I do mean that in the way that others try to move him. Those big powerful hips & those huge tree trunk thighs, I would hate to try and take him down. Don't know if it'll be a problem for Nick Feldman though. A huge powerful HWT himself, his back muscles that resemble a mountain range, might just be enough to pull in those legs on a takedown. While I still think Ruth Vs Kharchla will be out match of the night, this will be a close second.