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Preview: Buffalo Bulls Wrestling Opens MAC play at Eastern Michigan

UB Athletics

Outside of the hardwood, all we've got going on this month is Wrestling. Based on their November showings in duals in Maryland and Albany and in the tournament setting at the NYS Collegiate Championships, it's worth your time to spend more attention on John Stutzman's crew.

Though still extremely young, the Bulls are coming of age with some serious experience under the belts and look to have turned the corner from the last two seasons with a 4-1 start and injury-hampered fourth-place finish at the Collegiate Championships. Tomorrow brings another chance for a milestone: the first MAC win since January 2013. The Bulls are in Ypsilanti to take on Eastern Michigan.

Eastern Michigan (4-1)

All-Time Series: UB leads 12-8
Last Meeting: UB lost 10-22; 15 February 2015
2015 Common Opponents: Northern Iowa, Ohio, Missouri, Kent State, Northern Illinois, Central Michigan, Old Dominion

Key Matchup:​ Kyle Akins vs. #33 Vince Pizzuto

Pizzuto dropped down to 125 after spending last season at 133 pounds (he beat Sean Peacock 6-4 in last year's dual meet) and Akins is coming into this dual red hot after picking up a NYS Championship at Cornell. It'll be important for UB to establish a lead early and get momentum that will carry over into their other matches and there's no better spot to do it than the first one of the day. Akins is as reliable as they come, even as a redshirt freshman. He's a solid technical wrestler and he knows how to win in close matches.

Key Matchup:​ Colt Cotten vs. #22 Nick Barber

Before not competing at the NYS Championships, Cotten was a buzzsaw, absolutely dominating his competition to a cool 5-0 record. His performances were so dominant that we coined a new moniker, now calling him 'Major Cotten' because the majority of his victories have come by way of major decision or pinfall. His opponent, Nick Barber defeated Jason Estevez 2-0 in last years dual and is absolutely no slouch. However, Cotten is such an exciting wrestler that I think he can upend the #22 ranked wrestle in the country. A win here would give UB some big time momentum heading into the middle weights and more cushion when the match comes down to the wire.

Key Matchup:​ #26 Jake Gunning vs. Gage Hutchison

We've sang the praises of Jake Gunning all season long, and Coach Stutzman has gone as far as to say that Gunning will be an All-American this season and an eventual national champion. Gunning is coming off a solid showing at the NYS Championships where he took home silver after falling to #22 Mike Hughes of Hofstra. Knowing that Gunning will be on the mat at the end of the match is comforting because if the meet is do-or-die at the end, Gunning is the guy I'd want on the mat to take a home a win.

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John Stutzman hasn't had a victory in the MAC yet, but this Sunday should serve as his best opportunity so far to down a MAC foe. The Eagles have some gaudy wins, but the two groups are evenly matched at most weights with a few exceptions. While we don't know anything on the large group, especially in the heavier weights, that sat out the NYS Collegiate Championships, I fully expect this dual to be exciting and come down to the wire.