The current kings of college wrestling are the Nittany Lions, and their hegemony is not in question this season. However, as a team Oklahoma State presents some of the first real hurdles for Penn State to this point.
January 1-2 | 10:00 AM Eastern
There's a possibility PSU puts nine guys in the finals, and will be the favorites in many weights based on both rankings and seeds. However, OK State could be right there with seven wrestlers of their own in Wednesday's night's finals, with potential overlap at every weight except 125.
Remember, you can find complete entries here and brackets will eventually be in FloArena. Now, let's run down the six most anticipated matchups between the Nittany Lions and the Cowboys.
6) #1 Vincenzo Joseph vs #10 Chandler Rogers
I wasn't sure where to put this one if only because we've seen it before, and also 165 is stacked in general so this might be the third most compelling matchup for Cenzo within this own weight (more on that later). These two have combined for 15 pins already this season, meaning somebody could be going for a ride.
Joseph has only wrestled one guy who was an NCAA qualifier last year, and it was All-American Josh Shields who is coming up in weight. Getting his hands on a full sized 165 who can throw anyone will be a great test for March, and even if it's not Rogers, he could see Mekhi Lewis or Chance Marsteller.
5) #11 Kaden Gfeller vs #12 Brady Berge
A couple redshirt freshmen who were slated to make big impacts coming out of high school. Gfeller won the Scuffle lat year down at 141 but is taking over for the injured Boo Lewallen, who we won't see this week. Berge has wrestled just 11 matches in his Penn State career, and only hit two NCAA qualifiers so far: Mike D'Angelo last season and Josh Maruca this year.
These two were never close to the same size in high school, but Berge's teammate and person he is trying to beat out for the starting spot in Jarod Verkleeren nearly majored Gfeller at Who's #1 back in 2016.
4) #3 Anthony Cassar vs #5 Derek White
As one of the conductors of the "Anthony Cassar is going to make the finals" train, I fully realize he hasn't faced anyone of substance yet outside his own teammate. I often forget that Derek White wasn't an All-American last year, but he should almost definitely be one this March. He presents enough size and athleticism that we'll get a much better read on just how effective Cassar can be the rest of this season at 285.
3) #4 Nick Lee vs #11 Kaid Brock
One of the most fun debates before the season was about the 141 pound rankings and where to put Brock and Lee. The Cowboy was placed ahead, for good reason, but there's no question now that Nick Lee should be higher. However, he's wrestled guys with a combined 0 career wins at the national tournament. This one should almost definitely be the final, and I'd bet the over if I were you.
Kaid Brock has been Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde this season. In his seven wins, he's averaging 15 points per match and just looking fantastic. But in his three losses, none of them to AAs who had the same caliber of college resume, Brock has mustered just 13 points total. Whether it's got to do with going up in weight or something else, the junior has not fared well against higher level opponents this season.
2) #1 Mark Hall vs Joe Smith
A good part of this probably has to do with Smith not really wrestling much folkstyle for nearly a year. But also Mark can wrestle tight or interesting matches against guys of a certain caliber. We've never seen them square off in folkstyle (at least not in high school or college), but they did meet as Juniors in the 2015 U.S. Open.
Marky has been tested the most of anyone on PSU this season, with half of his matches coming against NCAA qualifiers and taking on two All-Americans. I consider the match with Joseph slightly juicier, but I obviously also wouldn't mind seeing him against All-American and #7 Jacobe Smith.
1) #7 Daton Fix vs #17 Roman Bravo-Young
At this point, all anyone wants to see is RBY against someone high caliber. Firstly because we want to know approximately how good he is. Secondly, because he's been one of the nation's most entertaining wrestlers this season. And he'll have to beat Austin Gomez just to get to Fix, only adding to the anticipation.
For more on this hotly awaited bout, I would direct you to Mike Mal's fantastic tech notes.