By: Sean Mael
#23 Connor Brown (5-2) vs. Austin Macias (5-4)
Thoughts: Brown is an interesting guy to evaluate. His neutral offense, scrambling and bottom game are all really solid. Brown can be tough on top and has the ability to turn solid guys. Brown can be a little bit sloppy in his execution at times from the top position and this can lead to him getting reversed quite a bit. Brown has all the tools to be a top 8 guy at this weight class come season’s end, but he needs to clean up a few areas and finish matches a little stronger. In both of Brown’s losses this season he was leading with less than a minute to go in the bout. Macias is solid on his feet but seems to struggle from the bottom position. I think we see Brown get to his offense early and grind his way to a dominating win here. Brown is better in every position here, and I think we see him work some turns here and be aggressive from his feet. If Brown can tighten up his game a bit and start scoring bonus points against unranked guys like Macias, I believe that will bode well for his performance come March.
Prediction: #23 Brown Maj Macias 15-3 (MIZZ 4-0)
#14 Matt Schmitt (5-1) vs. #24 AaronSchulist (2-0)
Thoughts: Schmitt has been tested this season. He is really good at keeping a measured pace on his feet and scoring both early and late in periods. Schmitt has a solid variety to his leg attacks, although he favors a HI-C or low single. Schmitt excels from the top position and when he scores bonus most prevalently it is because he is able toput together a good match from the top position. Schulist has a good win over Bryce West of NIU that boosted him into the rankings. He is capable of putting up a bunch of points and of pushing the pace. This match will provide Schmitt a good opportunity to grab another resume boosting win. Schmitt has not had an opponent all season that is unlikely to qualify for the NCAA tournament next month. Schulist will attempt to push the pace here, but Schmitt is going to score off reshots and counters here and win by a decisive margin. Schmitt has a complete, well rounded game and he will control the action throughout on his way to a controlled decision.
Prediction: #14 Schmitt Dec. #24 Schulist 9-4 (MIZZ 7-0)
#4 Allan Hart (8-0) vs. #22 Saul Ervin (7-2)
Thoughts: Both wrestlers have been excellent this season. Hart has drastically improved his leg attacks and his pace throughout bouts this season. Hart was tough on top last season and despite going up to 141 this season he has continued to give guys fits with his length and variety of turns. Ervin was a fairly high-profile recruit for the Cougars and after a rough redshirt freshman campaign, he has really been putting things together this season. Ervin is tough on his feet and from the top position and wins a lot of close matches with his top acumen. These two guys are cut from a similar cloth stylistically, but Hart is better on his feet and his scrambling will give Ervin some issues here. This is a favorable match-up for Hart, although Ervin is certainly capable of slowing things down and keeping itclose. I like Hart by a couple takedowns here and some sterling top work. I do think Ervin will frustrate Hart enough to prevent bonus points in this bout.
Prediction: #4 Hart Dec. #22 Ervin 7-2 (MIZZ 10-0)
#3 Brock Mauller (9-0) vs. CardeionteWilson (4-5)
Thoughts: Mauller is extremely savvy and has tremendous leg attacks. The last time we saw Mauller compete he was as aggressive as we have seen him all season and he picked up a couple convincing wins including an 18-4 major decision over Alex Mosconi of Ohio. Mauller has the ability to blow guys out but is so sound defensively and with his scrambling that he rarely needs to score a bunch to win bouts. I hope we see him push the pace here against Wilson. Wilson has not been bonused all season including a 4-1 loss against #4 Boo Lewallen of Oklahoma State. Wilson tends to keep matches close but has lost to wrestlers apart from Lewallen who are not all that close to being ranked. Mauller will control the tempo and action in this match and will give Wilson issues in neutral. I think we see Mauller come out with some fire and grab a major decision here, primarily with his superior work from the neutral position. Mauller can be extremely tough on top as well, although we rarely see him work to turn on top, as he prefers to wrestle on his feet. If Mauller can manage a turn or two in this bout, that would be nice to see.
Prediction: #3 Mauller Maj. Wilson 15-5 (MIZZ 14-0)
#10 Jarrett Jacques (7-1) vs. #17 Justin Ruffin (8-1)
Thoughts: This is the marquee match of this dual. Jacques holds a 2-0 career edge over Ruffin although both matches were decided by merely two points and one of the matches went to overtime. Jacques is extremely positionally sound and has good leg attacks, that augment a solid top game. Jacques is also an extremely capable scrambler. Ruffin is a great scrambler, who has good low-level attacks and is really strong from the top position. If Ruffin has a weakness it is the bottom position, so it will be interesting to watch and see if Jacques can manage riding time or a turn in this bout. Jacques has been winning this season, but has not been as dominant, as he is capable of being at his best. I imagine we see Jacques score a nice takedown and ride tough in this bout on his way to an extremely tight win here. Ruffin is extremely solid and has more than a punchers chance to win this one, but if Jacques can get to his offense I have him picking up a big win for conference tournament seeding here over Ruffin. This match will be fun to watch in all three positions and mat wrestling will be pivotal here. Prediction: #10 Jacques Dec. #17 Ruffin 4-3 (MIZZ 17-0)
#20 Keegan O’Toole (8-0, 6-0 at 165) vs. Chase Deihl (1-8)
Thoughts: This will be an interesting game of cat and mouse. O’Toole is wrestling phenomenally well thus far in his true freshman season. He has great variety in his leg attacks, and his scrambling, top work and pace are all very impressive. O’Toole is emerging as a Darkhorse candidate to contend for a national title at this weight class. Deihl is a huge underdog in this bout, but he has competed hard against ranked guys and has only given up bonus points in one match this season. O’Toole will be hunting hard for the fall, and his unorthodox ability to hit cradles when guys get in on his legs may help him get the fall here. Deihl, already knows he likely cannot win, so he will be doing his best to minimize damage. I think we see O’Toole find his way to a fall here, but it will be interesting to see how Deihl attempts to slow the match down and if he can frustrate O’Toole here.Prediction: #20 O’Toole Fall over Deihl (MIZZ 23-0)
#11 Peyton Mocco (8-0, 5-0 at 174) vs. Kevin Gschwendtner (4-5)
Thoughts: Given the wide disparity in their records, this bout could be relatively close for a couple reasons. The first is that Mocco is not a bonus point machine and Gschwendtner does not give up a ton of bonus even against ranked opponents. The second reason the bout could be close is that Mocco is a bit undersized for this weight class and Gschwendtner is a fairly large 174-pound wrestler. I think that Mocco’s scrambling on the mat and solid leg attacks will stake him to a large advantage in this bout. Mocco’s awareness on the mat and ability to continue to wrestle throughout positions, even in seemingly adverse situations is what makes him special. I think he will control the positions throughout this match and come up just short of a major decision here.Prediction: #11 Mocco Dec. Gschwendtner 12-5 (MIZZ 26-0)
#22 Jeremiah Kent (7-0) vs. Ryan Yarnell (5-4)
Thoughts: Kent has been excellent this season. He is wrestling through positions better than he ever has before. His upperbody game and low-level attacks from neutral have been very efficient and he has been a hammer from the top position. This is a homecoming of sorts for Yarnell who was a Class three state Champion in high school for Windsor (Imperial) in Missouri. Yarnell is a solid scrambler, but he has been blown out by every ranked wrestler he has seen this season. Yarnell has struggled on bottom and I think Kent’s prolific top game will give Yarnell fits in this match. I have Kent locking up a cradle for the second period fall in this one. Prediction: #22 Kent Fall over Yarnell (MIZZ 32-0)
#21 Rocky Elam (6-0) vs. Austin Andres (1-7)
Thoughts: Elam has looked outstanding at times this season and has been steadily improving every time out. Elam has good low level leg attacks and sweep singles. He is incredibly long for the weight class and is tough to deal with from the top position. He has a great cradle series. Elam is also stingy on his feet and handfights at a very high level for a true freshman upperweight. Andres will try to keep things tight here, but Elam will likely get a couple takedowns and then transition to a cradle and a fall. Elam will be tested going forward, but not in this bout.
Prediction: #21 Elam Fall over Andres (MIZZ 38-0)
#8 Zach Elam (5-3) vs. Colton McKiernan (5-1)
Thoughts: This is the most anticipated match of the dual meet for me. Elam has been a bit up and down this season but has already seen three top eight ranked guys in an especially loaded heavyweight field this season. Elam likely has more to give, and I think we see the best version of him in March. McKiernan is a really solidheavyweight who is tough from the top position and is a past NCAA qualifier. In their only meeting at the MAC tournament in 2019, when both were true freshman, McKiernan pinned Elam in overtime. I am interested to see how much progress Elam has made since then. He took a year to redshirt last season and put on about twenty pounds of good weight. Elam has sky high potential and is tough in all three positions. If Elam can score from neutral and or get up quickly from bottom I think that he will win here, in what will be an important match for NCAA seeding. I think we see Elam come out aggressively here and take a nice solid win over a tough opponent that matches up well stylistically. A loss here would be very damaging for both Elam’s MAC tournament seeding, but also his NCAA seeding. I like Elam to win here and gain some confidence moving forward.
Prediction: #8 Elam Dec. McKiernan 4-2 (MIZZ 41-0)
Overall: Missouri has one of the best dual team line-ups in the country. They would make a lot of teams look bad this season. SIUE has four really solid wrestlers in #24 Schulist, #22 Ervin, #17 Ruffin and McKiernan. Those wrestlers are all just matched up with someone ranked higher for the Tigers. SIUE has a chance at upsets at 157 and 285, but I think Missouri will end up winning both bouts. At a lot of other weights, we will see fairly drasticmismatches and I hope that the Missouri grapplers will push for a ton of bonus points here. With an eye towards March, bonus points will be important at the MAC tournament and especially the NCAA tournament. Bonus points could be the difference between finishing 5-8 at NCAA’s and fighting their way up to a third or fourth place spot on the team podium. Hopefully the Tigers will take care of business and secure their third shutout of the season here against the Cougars. This dual will take place at 1 pm on Sunday, February 7th at the Hearnes Center and will be available to be streamed on ESPN 3. It should make for a fun watch before the Super Bowl tomorrow evening. Go Chiefs! All rankings utilized here are courtesy of Flowrestling. Thank you for reading!