Another week, another win for Penn State.
The Nittany Lions extended their dual meet winning streak to 55 with a 25-11 comeback victory over previously undefeated No. 4 Michigan where they won seven of the ten weight classes after dropping the first two to ranked Wolverine wrestlers. Penn State will continue its Big Ten dual meet schedule this weekend against No. 6 Ohio State, a team that picked up two conference wins last weekend over No. 22 Illinois and Northwestern.
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Penn State and Ohio State, the No. 1 and No. 6 teams in the country, are just two of the 10 Big Ten schools who earned a spot on the Top 25 rankings this week. Six of the Top 10 spots went to Big Ten schools with Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Nebraska claiming the Nos. 3, 4, 7, and 9 rankings in the recent poll. With conference tournaments just over a month away, the dual meet schedule has intensified with top teams facing each other every week. Twelve ranked teams recorded a loss last weekend, and two of those twelve teams fell to a lower ranked or unranked opponent, creating a bit of shakeup in the national rankings. Here’s everything you need to know about who rose, who fell and who remains in the NWCA Top 25.
North Carolina, Iowa State rise, Wyoming, Pittsburgh fall in new Top 25
The only Top-25 team to drop to an unranked opponent last weekend was the Wyoming Cowboys, who fell two spots due to their 21-12 loss against Fresno State. Sneaking into their previously held No. 11 spot was Virginia Tech, a team that beat Duke 40-3 over the weekend. Iowa State jumped up to the No. 12 spot with two solid wins over South Dakota State and Utah Valley without giving up a single point.
No. 16 Pittsburgh dropped three spots after losing a close 19-16 ACC battle against then No. 17 Carolina, and the Tar Heels moved up two spots as a result of their win in that dual. The ACC tournament will offer some intrigue as N.C. State continues to hold a tight grip on its Top-10 ranking and Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh and North Carolina battle in the Top 20 with Virginia not far behind at No. 23. Individually, the ACC has Top-5 wrestlers in five of the ten weight classes, with North Carolina State's Nick Reenan pacing the conference with his No. 3 ranking at 184 pounds.
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On the opposite side of the country, Stanford held on to its Top 25 ranking after taking down unranked Arizona State 21-15, further ensuring that the Sun Devils would not have a place on this week's rankings. Arizona State will face undefeated No. 5 Missouri on Friday, the only team in the Top 25 that did not wrestle over the weekend. The Tigers should roll past the Sun Devils, but look for some excitement at 174 pounds where Missouri's No. 4 Daniel Lewis will likely take on defending national champion No. 2 Zahid Valencia of Arizona State.
Notable individual wins
Seven of this weekends Top 25 duals came down to ten points or less, emphasizing the importance of bonus points and the value of certain individual wins. The closest dual of last weekend, a Big 10-Ivy matchup, also featured perhaps one of the most anticipated 149-pound duals of the season, as Rutger’s then-No. 2 Anthony Ashnault took on Princeton’s then-No. 1 Matthew Kolodzik. Ashnault ultimately earned a dominant 10-2 major decision to give his team four points that proved critical in No. 18 Rutger’s 19-18 win over the now No. 19 Tigers. Both athletes stepped up to compete in the New Jersey dual meet challenge and gave fans what could very well be a preview of the national finals.
A heavyweight match and a 184-pound match in another Big Ten dual also drew headlines this weekend as two Top-5 athletes fell in both weight classes to their lower-ranked Top-15 opponents for valuable team points. The No. 3 Hawkeyes and No. 9 Cornhuskers went back and forth before then-No. 13 Cash Wilcke stepped up to the mat with his team down by four points. He fought for a 5-2 upset decision over his All-American opponent, moving the team score to 9-10 in a dual that would ultimately end in favor of the Hawkeyes.
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Nebraska’s then-No. 14 David Jensen reversed the energy of the crowd when he pulled off a stunner against then-No. 3 Sam Stoll at 285 pounds, blanking the former Gorriarian Trophy winner and earning a 3-0 win that put his team back in the lead after Iowa’s No. 5 Jacob Warner had given the Hawkeyes the edge at 197. Dominating wins from lightweight underclassmen No. 2 Spencer Lee and No. 3 Austin DeSanto sealed the deal for Iowa, but this dual showed that Nebraska is a threat and these two teams will fight it out for team points again in March.
Heavyweight upsets became a theme of the weekend as then-No. 11 Trent Hillger of Wisconsin also took down then-No. 6 Youssif Hemdia of Maryland 5-2 on Saturday. His match did not influence team scores in a critical way, but the win, along with the other upsets this weekend, hinted that that shakeups would occur in individual rankings for this weight class.
This coming weekend will feature all but two of the Top 25 teams in action, with eight head-to-head ranked matches. The No. 1 Nittany Lions and the No. 6 Buckeyes will face off for the marquee weekend dual on Friday in Columbus, but No. 7 Minnesota and No. 9 Nebraska will also wrestle against each other in a Top-10 dual. In one of the last matches of the weekend, No. 14 Wisconsin vs. No. 22 Illinois will round out the Big Ten Top 25 duals.
More conference excitement comes in the ACC, where No. 11 Virginia Tech will be looking for a win against No. 15 North Carolina, while No. 9 N.C. State will take on No. 16 Pittsburgh in Raleigh.
In an Ivy League battle, No. 10 Cornell will take on No. 19 Princeton on Saturday, as Princeton looks to rebound from its loss to Rutgers and Cornell aims to stay undefeated in the conference.
Here's the full Top 25 ranking:
|Rank||Team (First)||Record||Points||Previous Rank|
|1||Penn State (16)||10-0||400||1|
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