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Buffalo Bulls Wrestling Tri-Meet vs. Columbia, Sacred Heart Preview / GameThread

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After being downed by #4 Missouri last week, John Stutzman's squad will hit the road to the Big Apple this weekend to first take on the Columbia Lions and then make the short jaunt up to Fairfield, CT to take on the Sacred Heart Pioneers. The Bulls will look to get back on track, as a perfect weekend would give them 8 dual meet victories, the most in a season since the 7 win 2011-2012 season.

Columbia Lions (2-1, 0-0 EIWA)

All-Time Series: Columbia leads 2-1

Last Meeting: UB lost 27-9, 16 January 2015

2015 Common Opponents: Clarion, Sacred Heart

Event Date/Time/Location: 16 January 2016, 12 Noon, University Gym, New York, NY

Event Coverage: Bull Run

Columbia as always, fields a tough squad of wrestlers and they won't be an easy out for the Bulls. Their marquee grapplers are nationally ranked Markus Scheidel, Zack Hernandez and Garrett Ryan at 157, 174 and 285 pounds respectively. Last season's match against the Lions was filled with several close calls and the final score didn't necessarily indicate how close the match actually was. For those of you who remember, the Columbia match was also the coming out party for Colt Cotten. In his first match in the blue and white, Cotten emphatically pinned Columbia's Jacob Macololooy at 141 pounds.

Projected Matchups

125: Kyle Akins (UB) vs. Vince Pallone (Columbia)

133: Bryan Lantry (UB) vs. Angelo Amenta (Columbia)

141: Brandon Lapi (UB) vs. Joe Moita (Columbia)

149: Colt Cotten (UB) vs. Tyler Ponte (Columbia)

157: Tim Schaefer (UB) vs. #21 Markus Scheidel (Columbia)

165: Tyler Rill (UB) vs. Tyrel White (Columbia)

174: Muhamed McBryde/Austin Weigel (UB) vs. #30 Zack Hernandez (Columbia)

184: Joe Ariola (UB) vs. Mike Fetchet (Columbia)

197: James Benjamin (UB) vs. Troy Hembury (Columbia)

285: Jake Gunning (UB) vs. #31 Garrett Ryan (Columbia)

Sacred Heart Pioneers (1-4, 0-0 EIWA)

All-Time Series: UB leads 3-0

Last Meeting: UB won 32-12, 29 November 2014

2015 Common Opponents: Columbia, Clarion, Binghamton

Event Date/Time/Location: 16 January 2016, 7 PM, William Pitt Center, Fairfield, CT

Event Coverage: Bull Run

John Stutzman has had Sacred Heart's number the past two seasons and this season Sacred Heart is in a similar boat as UB - fielding a roster comprised of a large number of underclassmen. UB handily beat SHU in their last meeting at the Northeast Duals last season.

Projected Matchups

125: Kyle Akins (UB) vs. Gerard Daly (SHU)

133: Bryan Lantry (UB) vs. Tim Johnson (SHU)

141: Brandon Lapi (UB) vs. Alex Harnsberger (SHU)

149: Colt Cotten (UB) vs. Brandon Levesque (SHU)

157: Tim Schaefer (UB) vs. Matt Fisher (SHU)

165: Tyler Rill (UB) vs. Casey Mitchell (SHU)

174: Muhamed McBryde/Austin Weigel (UB) vs. Johnny Vrasidas (SHU)

184: Joe Ariola (UB) vs. Mark Boyle (SHU)

197: James Benjamin (UB) vs. Sasha Oliinyk (SHU)

285: Jake Gunning (UB) vs. Duke Sherwood (SHU)

What to Watch For

In last season's matchup with Columbia, UB was leading 10-9 at halftime thanks to the aforementioned pin by Cotten and a major decision victory from then true freshman Sean Peacock. UB then struggled in the upper weights and couldn't do much of anything. However, with the revitalization that those weights have had with Tyler Rill, Joe Ariola and Jake Gunning leading the way that won't be as much of an issue this time around against the Lions. The real key for UB to come out victorious against the Lions will be in the early weight classes to build momentum. Wins from 3 of the first 4 weight classes certainly seems reasonable and could easily give UB a 12-3 (or better) lead heading into the upper weight classes. Then, will the increased strength at 165, 184 and 285 means that UB has an excellent chance at closing out the win. In the end, this match should shape up similarly to the Maryland or Lock Haven matches from earlier in the season with a 17-16 score or something similar.

Then, once UB makes the short drive to Fairfield they will close out the day with a likely win over Sacred Heart. Stutzman has had Sacred Heart's number since taking over as UB's coach. Sacred Heart's lineup is young, much like UB's and they only have one dual meet victory on the season over Davidson who UB shut out 47-0 earlier this season. Fatigue may be a factor with the long day, but UB has competed enough this season that their fitness should not be an issue against Sacred Heart. I would expect a score similar to last season's matchup against SHU, 32-12, but given that UB is stronger at weights that they lost at last season the score could be closer to this season's Gardner-Webb match.

***

As of this posting I can't find any livestats options so we'll have to rely upon the UB Wrestling twitter account and the Columbia and Sacred Heart Wrestling accounts (although the SHU account hasn't posted anything since early December). This will also serve as a GameThread on Saturday.