Nick Lee

Penn State’s Nick Lee, left, tries gaining position on Maryland’s Joey McKenna in a 141-pound match, during the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, PA., Friday, Mar.22, 2019. McKenna won 4-3.

STATE COLLEGE – The Bryce Jordan Center on Saturday will showcase the Big Ten’s premier wrestling meet of the week when two top-5 programs collide.

No. 2 Penn State (10-2, 7-1 Big Ten) will put its three-meet win streak to the test when it hosts No. 3 Ohio State (10-3, 6-2 Big Ten) in dual-meet action. Penn State holds a four-meet win streak in the series dating to 2016.

After Penn State’s loss at No. 1 Iowa (19-17) on Jan. 31, the Nittany Lions have rattled off three consecutive dominant wins against Maryland (40-3), No. 4 Wisconsin (29-10) and No. 7 Minnesota (31-10).

The wins against Wisconsin and Minnesota came on the road.

“I think that’s just routine for us,” Nittany Lions’ wrestler Nick Lee said. “We want to be the best we can be for every match, and I think the team’s getting better with every match. I think that really showed.”

This week, the No. 2-ranked Lee split Big Ten wrestler of the week honors with Michigan’s Mason Parris. Lee (141 pounds) went 2-0 last week with wins against Wisconsin’s No. 7-ranked Tristan Moore and Minnesota’s No.5-ranked Mitch McKee. Lee earned a 14-1 major decision over Moore, and he pinned McKee in 1:56.

Ohio State is 3-1 in its last four meets and earned a 28-10 win against Northwestern on Sunday.

“We’re getting ready for next week right now,” Ohio State coach Tom Ryan said during his post-meet press conference. “It’s a big, big week at Penn State.”

Lee will be pitted against Ohio State’s Luke Pletcher, who is ranked No. 1 at 141 pounds by InterMat. Pletcher brings a 23-0 record into Saturday’s dual, while Lee’s gone 16-0 this season.

Three Ohio State wrestlers boast No. 1 rankings.

At 197 pounds, Kollin Moore is 23-0 in matches this season. He’ll wrestler Penn State’s Shakur Rasheed, who is ranked No. 17. Rasheed returned to the mat for the first time in over a year in last month after suffering a leg injury. Rasheed is 4-3 this year and went 2-0 last week.

No. 1-ranked Sammy Sasso is 21-2 and will face Penn State’s Jarod Verkleeren at 149 pounds. Verkleeren carries a No. 17 ranking and a 14-5 record into the match. He split two matches last week.

Penn State’s Vincenzo Joseph will look to maintain his perfect record (11-0) and his No. 1 ranking against Ohio State’s Ethan Smith (15-10). Mark Hall ranks No. 2 at 184 pounds. He’s won three straight since losing to Iowa’s Michael Kemerer, which snapped a 16-match win streak by Hall this season. Hall draws Ohio State’s Kaleb Romero, who is ranked No. 7 at 15-4.

Roman Bravo-Young has accumulated 15 wins in 16 tries this year. He’s ranked No. 2 a 133 pounds. He suffered his first loss of the season on Friday when he was defeated by Wisconsin’s Seth Gross, a two-time NCAA finalist and 2018 champion.

The teams have combined to win the last nine NCAA team titles. Penn State won four in a row from 2011 to 2014. After Ohio State's win in 2015, Penn State has won the last four from 2016 to 2019.

Saturday’s Penn State-Ohio dual begins at 7:30 p.m. (Big Ten Network).

Elton Hayes is a veteran sports writer who covers Penn State for CNHI LLC publications. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter @EHDC12.

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