Preview: No. 2 Ohio State vs. Michigan State

By Andy Vance on January 13, 2019 at 8:00 am
Myles Martin doesn't mess around.

Ohio State beat a wrestling team by more than 40 points for the second time this season, disassembling the Indiana Hoosiers in their home gym 43-3 Friday night. Sunday afternoon could bring a similar result as the Buckeyes return to St. John Arena to host a Michigan State squad riding a three-meet losing streak.

Michigan State Spartans
4-3, 1-1 Big Ten Conference

2 P.M. – SUNDAY, JAN. 13

STREAMING: FloWrestling

The Spartans are 4-3 on the season, and 1-1 in Big Ten action. Their lone conference win thus far? A one-point victory over Indiana.

While the Hoosiers didn't field a single ranked combatant, the Spartans do feature a pair of wrestlers counted among the Top 20 of their respective weight classes.

Last year the Buckeyes traveled to East Lansing and returned with a 35-12 victory; the Spartans are not significantly better as a team than they were last season, and the home team should expect to win at least eight matches this time around. 

The Michigan State Spartans

Head Coach: Roger Chandler

Sunday marks a bit of history in this series as it is the 70th all-time meeting between the Buckeyes and Michigan State. The Spartans own a 40-29-1 advantage all-time, but it has been a much different story since the turn of the century: Ohio State has won 13 of 14 tussles since 2000 including last nine in a row.

Probable Matchups
125 Malik Heinselman (14-3, Fr.)
-OR- Hunter Lucas (7-4, r-So.)
No. 8 Rayvon Foley (19-2, So.)
133 No. 5 Luke Pletcher (15-1, Jr.) Anthony Tutolo (13-9, r-Sr.)
141 No. 2 Joey McKenna (12-0, Sr.) Austin Eicher (11-8, r-Sr.)
149 No. 3 Micah Jordan (14-1, r-Sr.) Jaden Enriquez (10-11, r-Fr.)
157 No. 8 Ke-Shawn Hayes (13-3 r-Jr.) Jake Tucker (15-8, r-So.)
165 Kaleb Romero (6-4, r-Fr.) Austin Hiles (9-9, r-So.)
-OR- Logan Ritchie (8-10, r-Jr.)
174 Te'Shan Campbell (8-2, Sr.)
-OR- Ethan Smith (11-4, r-Fr.)
Drew Hughes (17-6, r-So.)
184 No. 1 Myles Martin (9-0, Sr.) No. 20 Cam Caffey (18-2, r-Fr.)
197 No. 2 Kollin Moore (9-0, r-Jr.) Nick May (10-7, r-So.)
-OR- Brad Wilton (11-8, r-Fr.)
HWT No. 17 Chase Singletary (14-3, r-Fr.) Chase Beard (12-6, r-Fr.)
-OR- Christian Rebottaro (10-8, r-So.)

Michigan State hasn't walked out of St. John Arena with a win since 1997.

The Spartans were active over the holiday break going 2-2 at the South Beach Duals the weekend after Christmas. They defeated SIU-Edwardsville and West Virginia but lost to Kent State and Wyoming; Friday night's home loss to Illinois marked three losses in a row en route to an almost-certain fourth in Columbus.

"Ohio State is one of the benchmark program nationally and I think our guys need to go out there with the same tenacity that they did tonight," Chandler said after Friday's close loss to the Illini. "Rankings don't matter. It's all about how you compete for seven minutes."

Michigan State actually led Illinois 12-0 after the first three bouts, but the Illini reeled off five in a row to recapture the lead. The team score was 15-15 heading into the 10th and final match of the night, won by Illinois' No. 2 Emery Parker in sudden victory at 184 pounds.

Notable Michigan State Wrestlers

125 Pounds: No. 8 Rayvon Foley

"Sometimes we take him for granted, but Rayvon Foley is one of the best guys in the country," said Michigan State head coach Roger Chandler following Friday's dual against Illinois. "He continues to impress, Rayvon dominated in all three positions and I know he's going to compete for a national title because of that."

Foley is 19-1 on the season. Nathan Tomasello handled him in a 7-3 decision last season, but Foley faced a much different opponent Sunday in true freshman Malik Heinselman (14-3). Heinselman burned his redshirt Friday at Indiana with a 3-2 decision over Elijah Oliver.

Both wrestlers are fairly young, as Foley is a true sophomore, but that extra year in Foley's favor may prove to be the big difference in the match. How Heinselman fares against a Top-10 opponent could tell fans quite a bit about his potential to add to his team's score at the NCAA Championships in March.

184 Pounds: No. 20 Cam Caffery

Caffery suffered just his second loss of the season versus Illinois, dropping the last match of the night in sudden victory to the No. 2 man in the country.

"Cam [Caffery] was attacking the whole time, trying to make action happen," said Chandler of the No. 20 wrestler at 184. "Cam showed me tonight that he's ready to be in the mix as an All-American or eventually a national champion. He's a special kid and he believes in himself first and foremost. If you have belief in yourself you can do a lot of things."

He'll have his hands full with No. 1 Myles Martin, but the redshirt freshman proved he belongs in the conversation after taking Parker to the brink Friday night.

Buckeye Breakdown

Ohio State went hog wild in Bloomington, recording five pins and a major decisions in a bonus-point bonanza. The Spartans bring more raw talent to town than what the Hoosiers fielded Friday night, but the Buckeyes are still the superior team almost up and down the lineup.

A handful of Spartans wrestled against Ohio State last season, most notably Foley, who lost a decision to four-time All American and Big Ten champion Nathan Tomasello. Foley has cemented himself as one of the top lightweights in the country, and will be gunning for a quality win in Heinselman, a multi-time freestyle world team member.

Te'Shan Campbell had his worst outing of the season in East Lansing last year, losing by disqualification for stalling to Austin Hiles at 165 pounds. Campbell is a much better fit at 174, but Ethan Smith is expected to get the start Sunday as Tom Ryan and staff continue to evaluate which wrestler is the better option for the team in the postseason.

Campbell performed much better in Bloomington, earning a major decision, than he did in a 4-1 decision versus North Carolina, a victory in which he failed to score a single point in the final six minutes of the match. Smith is the younger wrestler, but upended then-No. 9 Ryan Christensen of Wisconsin during the dual meet versus the Badgers in December and hopes to become the team's long-term solution at 174.

Myles Martin has the night's only matchup featuring ranked-versus-ranked competitors, facing No. 20 Cam Caffey. Caffey is a solid opponent, but Martin is not only undefeated on the season, but has scored bonus point victories in all but two of his matches.

Kaleb Romero will look to bounce back from his fourth loss of the season with a win over either Hiles or Logan Ritchie, who are splitting time for the Spartans at 165 this season. Romero has had a slow start to his career, with just six wins against those four losses; he is 0-3 against ranked opponents.

What to Expect

Ohio State should win at least eight matches Sunday afternoon. The Buckeyes simply field too much horsepower relative to the Spartan lineup.

If Heinselman can capture lightning in a bottle versus Foley and Romero can show some of the talent that led him to four Ohio high school championships, it's not out of the realm of possibility to think the home team could pitch a shutout.

In any event, a barrel of bonus points seems likely, with the table set for Luke Pletcher, Joey McKenna, Micah Jordan and Kollin Moore to rack up a lot of takedowns

...or they could do what five Buckeyes did at Indiana, and just pin the living daylights out of them.

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