After placing Tyler Rill on the podium at the Midlands Championships last weekend John Stutzman's squad will head to Columbia, Missouri to take on the reigning MAC Champion Missouri Tigers in their first dual meet of the new year.
#4 Missouri Tigers (5-0, 3-0 MAC)
All-Time Series: Missouri leads 3-0
Last Meeting: UB lost 43-6, 6 February 2015
2015 Common Opponents: The MAC, Appalachian State
Event Date/Time/Location: Friday, 8 January 2015, 7 PM, Hearnes Center, Columbia, Missouri
Event Coverage: Bull Run / Mizzou Network (LINK)
Heading into the NCAA Tournament last season the Missouri Tigers were 24-0 in dual meet competition and were ranked either #1 or #2 in the nation. The Tigers petered off during the national tournament due to some of their surefire national champions being upset before the gold medal match. However, even after losing some of the nation's top ranked grapplers to graduation, the Tigers are one of, if not the most dangerous team in dual competition in the NCAA. They have already defeated 3 nationally ranked squads, including reigning national champion Ohio State, and are not a team to be trifled with. Currently, 8 of Missouri's 10 starters are ranked in the top 20 in their respective weights, with 6 of the 10 ranked in the top 10. Also, Missouri as a team was ranked #4 in the nation in the most recent NWCA/USA Today Coaches Poll.
For the Bulls, their hottest wrestlers of late have been Tyler Rill, Kyle Akins and Bryan Lantry. The aforementioned Rill won 4 bouts to earn 8th place at the Midlands, while Akins and Lantry are 2nd and 1st in wins among the regular starters on the roster with 12 and 13 respectively. Lantry in particular had an impressive win over former NCAA qualifier Scott DelVecchio of B1G foe Rutgers. The team performance as a whole was an encouraging sign for the squad's development as some of the younger, more inexperienced wrestlers managed to upset or hang tough with some of the best in the nation.
125: Kyle Akins (UB) vs. #10 Barlow McGhee (MU)
133: Bryan Lantry (UB) vs. #12 Zach Synon (MU)
141: Brandon Lapi (UB) vs. #11 Matt Manley (MU)
149: Colt Cotten/Sean Peacock (UB) vs. #4 Lavion Mayes (MU)
157: Tim Schaefer/Addrian Ferrarie (UB) vs. Blake Pepper (MU)
165: Tyler Rill (UB) vs. #7 Daniel Lewis (MU)
174: Austin Weigel/Muhamid McBryde (UB) vs. #10 Blaise Butler (MU)
184: Joe Ariola (UB) vs. #6 Willie Miklus (MU)
197: James Benjamin (UB) vs. #2 J'Den Cox (MU)
285: Jake Gunning (UB) vs. James Romero (MU)
What to Watch For
One of my biggest concerns in recent weeks has been the health of several key contributors in the lineup - chief among them is redshirt sophomore Colt Cotten, who has not seen action since UB's dual meet with Kent State on December 13th. If Cotten still isn't good to go against the Tigers then I would expect Peacock to step into the lineup once again. I'm fuzzy on the redshirt rules for wrestling and I can't find anything concrete coming from the NCAA so I'm not 100 percent if Peacock's redshirt has been burned or not.
In addition to Cotten's uncertainty there's uncertainty at 157 and 174 pounds. Tim Schaefer returned to the lineup at the MIdlands Championships after making way for true freshman Addrian Ferrarie in the tri-meet against Clarion and App State. While Austin Weigel has been in the lineup since the tri-meet in place of Muhamid McBryde. I'm unaware of any injuries to Schaefer, but I know McBryde has been dinged up so we'll see how those spots shake out. My guess would be that Schaefer and Weigel see the mat.
As far as the team score goes - UB should be looking for as many upsets as they can get. Missouri is a buzzsaw of a team and this match will be a litmus test as a team to see where each man matches up with one of the best in their weight class in the country. Missouri is weaker at 285 and 157 so Jake Gunning and TIm Schaefer may be names to watch for wins. Schaefer had an impressive match at the Midlands taking reigning Big XII Champion Shayne Tucker of Oklahoma to double overtime and I'd like to think a performance like that will give him confidence going into a match like this.
A few matchups involving ranked wrestlers to keep an eye on will be Tyler RIll taking on #7 Dan Lewis and Bryan Lantry matching up against #12 Zach Synon. As I said above, Rill and Lantry come in about as hot as anyone on the roster and Lantry's win over DelVecchio from Rutgers gave me a lot of confidence that he'll be able to pull an upset over Synon.
This one probably won't have the prettiest final score so special attention will have to be paid to the individual matches and how well each UB wrestler hangs with his man and the effort that he puts forth. Upsetting a couple of the ranked wrestlers would be a nice feather in the cap for Coach and the men who win.
Missouri will have video at the link above and from what I can tell it won't be behind a paywall so it's free for all to view.