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OSU Wrestling: Previewing OSU’s Top 5 Matchup with NC State in Italy

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The Pokes are in Italy right now to wrestle NC State in the “Tussle for the Troops”. The dual will take place at Naples Naval Base on Friday January 5 at 12:30 CST in Naples, Italy. This is the first NCAA wrestling match ever outside of the US.

On the trip so far John Smith has wrestled a Priest.

The Cowboys visited Pompei.

And both teams sat down to dinner together

I’m sure the trip has been a great experience for everyone involved but the dual itself will be a top 5 matchup between two great teams.

We recently¬†took a look at John Smith’s coaching tree. Pat Popolizio, the head man at NC State, is arguably the most successful branch of that tree.

What Popolizio has done and is still doing at NC State could easily be compared to what Bill Snyder did for Kansas State football. NC State was not any traditional power in wrestling. They had decent years and a few okay finishes but since he’s taken over there they’ve perennially been one of the better programs around. The Wolfpack knocked off the two biggest ones taking out both Iowa and OSU in duals on the road in the 2015-16 season, have had a number of All-Americans, and Popolizio’s also coached up one of the worlds best big men in Nick Gwiazdowski. He’s done a tremendous job.

The Pokes should win the dual. On paper they’ll be favored from 125-149, 165, 174, 197, and HWT but are narrow favorites in a lot of them and again NC State is very well coached, so expect some upsets.

I expect 125, 141, 197 and HWT to all be pretty good matches. If a few of those go NC State’s way the dual as a whole could tip their direction.

One other thing to watch out for is 149. I think they’ll be sending out Boo Lewallen as the starter here since he’s now eligible. One thing to watch for is whether the coaching staff bumps Martinez to 157. It’ll be really interesting to see if he goes up for this and takes over 157 going forward.

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