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#4 PackWrestle: New Rankings & Pitt Preview

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NCAA Wrestling: NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships
Nino Bonaccorsi celebrates after defeating Oklahoma Sooners wrestler Jake Woodley in the 197 weight class to advance to the finals of the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

New Rankings

The Pack (10-1, 3-0) remain at #4 in the latest NWCA Coaches Poll. This marks the 96th consecutive poll in the top-10 for Pat Pop’s program. Talk about consistency. Fellow ACC member, Virginia Tech joins us in the top-10, clocking in at #7.

After last week’s action against Virginia, there was some movement in the Intermat individual rankings. See where our guys check-in below:

  • 125: Camacho #14 (previous: 14)
  • 133: Orine #14 (15)
  • 141: Jack #24 (24)
  • 149: T. Wilson #3 (3)
  • 157: Scott #11 (10)
  • 165: Bullard #22 (21)
  • 174: H. Hidlay #4 (4)
  • 184: T. Hidlay #3 (3)
  • 197: Trumble #16 (20)
  • 285: Houghton #26 (26)

Kai Orine moves up a spot after his impressive win over Courtney. Ed Scott drops one spot after taking his first loss of the season. He is buoyed by some of his big wins, but I’m still not sure how he is below guys like Monday, who he has beaten head-to-head and has fewer losses than, and Robb, who has one good win and five losses. Somehow Bullard drops despite beating an undefeated guy who was ranked ahead of him - explain that one to me. And finally, Trumble moves up several spots after his win over Aiello. I think he would have been a bigger mover without that Princeton loss weighing him down.

Pitt Dual

How to Watch: ACC Network

Wrestling Rules & Scoring

NC State’s conference schedule starts to ramp up beginning this Friday when we travel up to Pitt. The Panthers (7-5, 1-2) are an excellent team despite falling out of the NWCA rankings this week. They aren’t stacked top-to-bottom like us or Virginia Tech, but they have elite guys at several weights, including two returning NCAA Finalists. If we’re not careful, this could easily turn into a 5-5 match split. Earlier this season, Pitt actually upset previously #6-ranked Arizona State despite only winning 4 of 10 matches, which is insanely difficult to do. Three of their wins were by pin, and the fourth by stalling DQ. So we have to be on our toes with these guys, they are super dangerous.

Projected lineups and my predictions are below:

  • 125: #14 Jakob Camacho vs. #30 Gage Curry (Camacho major; 4-0 NCSU)
  • 133: #14 Kai Orine vs. #9 Micky Phillippi (Phillippi decision; 4-3 NCSU)
  • 141: #24 Ryan Jack vs. #8 Cole Matthews (Matthews decision; 4-6 Pitt)
  • 149: #3 Tariq Wilson vs. Luke Kemerer or Dan Mancini (Tariq decision; 7-6 NCSU)
  • 157: #11 Ed Scott vs. #19 Elijah Cleary (Scott decision; 10-6 NCSU)
  • 165: #22 Thomas Bullard vs. #16 Jake Wentzel (Bullard decision; 13-6 NCSU)
  • 174: #4 Hayden Hidlay vs. James Lledo (Hidlay tech fall; 18-6 NCSU)
  • 184: #3 Trent Hidlay vs. Gregg Harvey (Hidlay major; 22-6 NCSU)
  • 197: #16 Isaac Trumble vs. #6 Nino Bonaccorsi (Bonaccorsi decision; 22-9 NCSU)
  • 285: #26 Tyrie Houghton or Owen Trephan vs. Jacob Slinger (Houghton decision; 25-9 NCSU)

Key Matchups

#14 Kai Orine vs. #9 Micky Phillippi

Phillippi is a tricky puzzle, one that NC State has yet to solve. Kai is trying to become the first Pack wrestler to take Phillippi out and if he’s able to, it would be quite the statement. Micky is a sixth-year senior who has twice won ACCs and twice fallen one win shy of All-American. His defense from neutral and controlling rides make him so tough to beat. If Kai wrestles a straight-up match, it plays right into Phillippi’s hands and I think he’ll struggle mightily to pull the upset. But Kai has something that I think could give Phillippi issues and balance the scales: his big move ability. It’s never good to hunt the big move at the expense of your other stuff, but if he feels it there, I would say let if fly. I could definitely see him hitting something similar to what he did against Courtney. If he can’t, this will be a tough opponent to grind out a win against.

#22 Thomas Bullard vs. #16 Jake Wentzel

Wentzel is the first of Pitt’s returning NCAA Finalists. These two are very familiar with each other. Thus far in their careers, to the surprise of some, it’s Thomas with the 3-0 series edge, but each match has gotten closer than the last. Wentzel has more reliable offense from his feet, but Bullard seems to always win the important scrambles. Both are also phenomenal on top. You really can’t get much more of a balanced matchup than this. If Pitt are going to pull the upset, they absolutely need a Wentzel victory here. On top of that, the winner of this one likely gets the #1 seed at ACCs. So the stakes are high, Bullard has to be on his game.

#16 Isaac Trumble vs. #6 Nino Bonaccorsi

This was the match that put Trumble on the map last year. Nick Reenan started the season with the spot, and I’m not sure anybody saw an alternate reality. That was until Trumble stepped in against Bonaccorsi - a move that I didn’t really read into too much - and upset the #5-ranked wrestler at the weight. After that, we had a roster battle on our hands. Isaac didn’t end up being our postseason rep, but he showed that he can beat anyone and that has continued into this season with his wins over #8 Rocky Elam & #17 Jay Aiello. Can he repeat the result against a returning NCAA Finalist? Bonaccorsi’s style is go-go-go - he is constantly shooting in on the legs, and that certainly bit him against Isaac last year, who is great from that position. I am really not sure what to expect from the rematch, but we know that Bonaccorsi will be much more prepared this time around. The key for Trumble in this one, and really in any of his future matches, is if he can keep it close early. He isn’t built to chase a match, but his sprawls can quickly tire his opponents, so he can win it in the 3rd with a tough ride or a timely takedown if he avoids an early deficit.

There is absolutely a path to victory for Pitt. They are probably favored at 133, 141, & 197 and I view 165 & heavyweight as near toss-ups. Slinger is a bigger heavyweight and Houghton has struggled moving those guys around this year. I think this would actually be a better matchup for Trephan, but either way this could conceivably end up as a 5-5 match split if Pitt win all of the toss-ups. If that were to materialize, I still think we will win the bonus point battle with the Hidlays and Camacho/Tariq having shots at contributing too. But Cole Matthews is always a pinning threat, so we could be in for a nail-biter.

Our next three duals are all going to be insane, and each will be broadcast on ACC Network starting this Friday at 7PM. And be sure to get your tickets in advance for next weekend’s bonkers double-header! I’ve got a feeling tickets at the door may be hard to come by. Go Pack!