After a pair of wins over No. 21 Illinois and Purdue last weekend, the 10th-ranked Huskers have matchups against a pair of ranked Big Ten opponents to end the conference dual season.
Nebraska is 9-3 on the year with a 5-1 conference record, the only Big Ten loss coming to No. 2 Iowa. Nebraska also has wins over No. 12 Minnesota, No. 13 Northwestern, No. 16 South Dakota State and No. 18 Wisconsin.
This weekend, Nebraska will take on No. 4 Ohio State on the road Friday night before coming back up home for a Sunday afternoon dual against No. 23 Rutgers. Ohio State is 12-2 in duals this year (6-1 in the Big Ten) and will be a real stiff test for the Huskers. The Buckeyes have nine of their 10 wrestlers ranked in the Top-25, while Rutgers has four ranked guys. Rutgers is 10-5 in duals this year but just 2-4 in Big Ten play.
The Huskers have six ranked wrestlers, including No. 10 Silas Allred who was just named Big Ten Wrestler of the Week last week for his two wins via pinfall, one of them over then-No. 9 Zac Braunagel of Illinois.
Nebraska will face Ohio State Friday night at 6 p.m. with the dual televised on BTN. Rutgers comes to Lincoln Sunday at noon with the dual airing on B1G+ (subscription required).
Rankings according to FloWrestling
Nebraska’s No. 3 Liam Cronin has two more ranked guys this weekend in Ohio State’s No. 10 Malik Heinselman and Rutgers’ No. 18 Dean Peterson.
Cronin is 15-3 with his only conference loss to No. 1 Spencer Lee. Cronin has wins over three top-10 guys just in conference action. He’ll get his chance to add to that hit list this weekend.
Ohio State’s Heinselman is 19-3 on the year. He’s a senior and just took his first loss to No. 7 Michael DeAugustino this past weekend. Cronin downed DeAugustino 11-2 via major decision in their dual matchup.
Peterson from Rutgers is 19-6 on the year and in his first year starting as a redshirt freshman. He’s lost his last two matches in Big Ten duals to DeAugustino and No. 17 Braxton Brown of Maryland.
Both of these matches aren’t easy, but Cronin has to be the favorite. Cronin is 2-1 in his career against Heinselman, winning 8-3 most recently at the 2020 Big Ten Championships.
Much like Cronin, Nebraska’s Kyle Burwick will have matches against a pair of ranked opponents this weekend. First, Burwick will face No. 10 Jesse Mendez of Ohio State before taking on No. 14 Joe Heilmann.
Burwick is 11-5 on the year after picking up his first conference win of the year this past weekend against Purdue’s Dustin Norris. Burwick started his Big Ten season with four-straight losses to ranked opponents.
Ohio State’s Mendez is a true freshman and was one of the best recruits coming in this season. He’s 12-2 on the year with losses to No. 1 Roman Bravo-Young of Penn State and No. 7 Sam Latona of Virginia Tech. He’ll be a tough matchup for Burwick.
For Rutgers, Heilmann is a senior who holds a 20-6 record on the season. He took a 5-1 loss to Mendez and is 3-3 in conference duals. Burwick is 0-1 against Heilmann, falling 6-2 at the 2022 NCAA Championships.
While he’ll be the underdog in both these matches, don’t count Burwick out here.
Nebraska’s No. 4 Brock Hardy has been a major revelation for the Huskers this year in his redshirt freshman season. Hardy is 22-3 on the year with a 5-1 Big Ten record, his only loss coming to No. 2 Real Woods of Iowa.
This weekend, Hardy will face Ohio State’s Dylan D’Emilio first. D’Emilio is an honorable mention in the rankings and holds a 12-8 record on the year. Against Rutgers, Hardy will likely face Joey Olivieri. Olivieri is a sophomore who’s 13-3 on the year and has been looking good. His only loss in Big Ten action was against Northwestern’s No. 12 Frankie Tal Shahar. Hardy defeated Tal Shahar 6-0 in their dual.
With Hardy a big favorite in both matches, look for the Husker to go for bonus points in both duals. Against Ohio State, the Huskers might just need bonus points here to win.
Who knows who Nebraska will wrestle here. This past weekend, the Huskers forfeited this weight against Illinois before bringing in redshirt freshman Blake Cushing for a dual against Purdue. It’s unclear if there was a late injury or illness to Dayne Morton that forced the forfeiture and the arrival of Cushing, but that’s really the only logical reason for it.
Morton is 5-9 on the year, while Cushing is 14-5, mostly in open tournaments.
Whoever Nebraska uses will face No. 3 Sammy Sasso of Ohio State on Friday night. Sasso is 20-2 on the year and a former NCAA finalist — he’ll be a heavy favorite.
Nebraska will then take on Anthony White of Rutgers. The redshirt freshman is 11-10 on the year. There’s no way to pick this match, so let’s just see what happens.
Nebraska has No. 1 Peyton Robb here and he’s been stellar this year. He’s 20-0 on the season.
Robb will likely take on No. 21 Paddy Gallagher of Ohio State before facing Rutgers’ Andrew Clark, an honorable mention in the rankings. Gallagher is a redshirt freshman for the Buckeyes and holds a 9-5 record on the year. Clark is 17-11 this season.
Robb will be a very heavy favorite in both these matches. Look for him to continue his undefeated season and lock up the top seed at Big Tens.
Nebraska has Bubba Wilson here who his 10-10 on the year. Wilson will face off against Ohio State’s No. 11 Carson Kharchla before taking on Rutgers’ Robert Kanniard.
Wilson is 0-2 in his career against Kharchla, falling most recently in an 8-2 decision at the Cliff Keen Invitational. Kanniard isn’t ranked, so Wilson has a much better chance at a win against the Scarlet Knight with a 4-3 record on the year.
Wilson just earned his first Big Ten win of the year this past weekend against Purdue’s Cooper Noehre, a 5-4 decision victory.
Nebraska’s No. 2 Mikey Labriola has a big test in front of him Friday night against Ohio State’s No. 5 Ethan Smith. Labriola is a perfect 20-0 with a win over NCAA Champion Mekhi Lewis this season, while Smith is 15-4 with his only conference loss to No. 1 Carter Starocci of Penn State.
Labriola is 2-1 against Smith in his career, but their last meeting was a 4-2 sudden victory loss for the Husker at the 2022 Big Ten Championships. This will be Labriola’s biggest test since facing Lewis in November.
Against Rutgers, Labriola will face Jackson Turley. A junior, Turley is 8-8 on the season. Labriola is 1-0 against Turley, beating him 11-9 at the 2021 Big Ten tournament.
This weekend will go a long way in deciding Labriola’s seeding going into Big Tens.
Nebraska’s No. 14 Lenny Pinto has kind of built up a name for himself this season. The redshirt freshman is as exciting to watch as anyone in the country and he’s knocked off some big-time opponents. Pinto is 13-7 on the year but has won three straight matches.
Against Ohio State, Pinto gets to face a real measuring stick in No. 5 Kaleb Romero. A senior, Romero has been in the Top-10 of the weight class for years. He’s 19-4 on the year. With a win, Pinto would become a legitimate All-American contender.
Then Pinto will face Rutgers’ No. 15 Brian Soldano. A true freshman, Soldano is 20-6 on the year and 3-3 in the Big Ten. This dual will pit two of the most impressive freshmen in the conference against each other.
Nebraska is led here by reigning Big Ten Wrestler of the Week No. 10 Silas Allred. The redshirt freshman is 19-5 on the year with a 5-1 Big Ten record. His only conference loss was to Iowa’s No. 12 Jacob Warner.
Allred will first face Ohio State’s No. 14 Gavin Hoffman. Hoffman is 15-5 on the year. These two met earlier this season at the Cliff Keen Invite and Allred won a 5-2 decision.
Against Rutgers, Allred will see Billy Janzer, an honorable mention in the rankings. A sophomore, Janzer is 6-8 this year.
Allred will be favored in both of these, although just slightly against Hoffman.
For the Huskers, senior Cale Davidson has done a commendable job holding the job down here as a former 197-pounder. He’s 8-14 on the year and has struggled at times against much larger opponents. This weekend, he’ll face two more ranked guys in Ohio State’s No. 14 Tate Orndorff and Rutgers’ No. 21 Boone McDermott.
Orndorff is 9-5 in this his senior season, while McDermott is a junior with a 14-3 mark on the year. Davidson will be the underdog here, but he’s wrestled really hard and had some real bright spots, so don’t count him out.
Davidson could be looked upon to keep a loss to just a decision for a team win against the Buckeyes. It could be that close.