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Ohio State wrestling looks ahead to the Big Ten championships

Can the Buckeyes repeat their 2018 triumph?

NCAA Wrestling: DI Wrestling Championships Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

“Ohio State’s title defense at the 2019 Big Ten Wrestling Championships begins Saturday (March 9) at 11 a.m. ET and concludes at 4 p.m. ET with Session IV on Sunday (March 10).”

-Ohio State Athletics

Last year at the much anticipated Big Ten Wrestling Championships, Ohio State was able to ride three individual Big Ten titles to a team victory over Penn State, Michigan and Iowa. Nathan Tomasello (125), Kollin Moore (197) and Ohio State wrestling legend Kyle Snyder (285) were all victorious in their respective weight classes.

This year, Ohio State is coming in at the underdog position as the No. 1 ranked Penn State Nittany Lions are the favorite to hoist the trophy. Ohio State is 12-2 and No. 6 in the country while Penn State is No. 1 at 14-0. Iowa and Michigan are also top 5 at No. 3 and 4 respectively. However, Ohio State still has legitimate contenders to place or win their individual weights and may just be able to ride that to another victory.

Joey McKenna (141), Micah Jordan (149), Myles Martin (184) and Kollin Moore (197) will all look to bring home championships in their respective weight classes but it will not be easy. Martin comes in the favorite at 17-0 and No. 1 in the country at the 184. Kollin Moore and Micah Jordan are both No. 2 in the country and McKenna is No. 3 at 141.

Kollin Moore will look to avenge his loss to Penn State’s Bo Nickel by fall just under a month ago at the 1:38 mark where Nickel controlled Moore the entire match. Of course, Moore will have to get through the bracket and to Nickel first, but that seems likely thanks to his 16-1 record.

Penn State beat Ohio State 28-9 on Feb. 8 in a match that only saw three victories for the Buckeyes and was widely expected to be a much better outcome. Since this is a tournament and the scoring is different, it may be easier for the Buckeyes to defeat Penn State, but they will still need some guys to wrestle above what they have this season. This is sure to be a fun and exciting championship season for Ohio State wrestling.

“All of the pieces are in place for Ohio State to win a third straight Big Ten championship and contend for a coveted College Football Playoff berth. But all of that is contingent on having a productive spring. We will see how they handle it beginning on Wednesday.”

-Steve Helwagen, 247 Sports

Going into the 2019 football season, this Ohio State football team has all the potential in the world. A returning defense for the most part, a Heisman caliber quarterback, a solid wide receiving core and returning starters on offense will fuel OSU’s charge for a College Football Playoff berth. This is a squad that will no doubt be a top-5 team heading into the season and will control their own destiny throughout.

So what will get in their way? Thankfully, not Purdue or Iowa as the usual Ohio State killers are not on the schedule for the Buckeyes. They will take on Wisconsin, but the Badgers will lose their starting QB Alex Hornibrook to the transfer portal and have some serious question marks heading into the season. Plus, Ohio State gets them in Columbus so that is always a benefit.

However, if Ohio State does not have a productive and meaningful spring practice, they may be in trouble. Even though many key pieces are returning like Chase Young, Austin Mack, KJ Hill, JK Dobbins and Jordan Fuller, they still have some great players that need replacing.

Another thing about this team is they are inexperienced together. A new head coach, coaching staff and likely starting QB can all cause some growing pains if they are not on the same page come August. That is why this spring will prove to be one of the more important ones for Ohio State in recent years because all of the talent is there, they just need the chemistry and plan of attack.

“There’s undoubtedly been a time or two this season when Chris Holtmann has glanced at his unusable option on the bench.”

-Adam Jardy, Columbus Dispatch

Anyone that has watched Ohio State basketball this season understands that sometimes the Buckeyes tend to turn the ball over. Whether it is a careless pass, a miscommunication or a good full court press, Ohio State can struggle handling the basketball and maximizing possessions. What makes it even worse is the answer to these problems might be sitting on the end of the bench.

CJ Walker is a transfer from Florida State that has had to sit out this season due to NCAA transfer rules. Throughout two seasons with Florida State, he averaged 6.5 points, 2 rebounds and 1.9 assists throughout 18 minutes of play. The most important stat however, is the 1.5 assist to turnover ratio he compiled. The Buckeyes main ball handler this season has been C.J. Jackson who has struggled immensely keeping the ball under control and is averaging 2.5 turnovers per game on just 3.4 assists.

The other ball handlers for the Buckeyes are Keyshawn Woods, a graduate transfer who plays much better off the ball and two freshman who are being thrust into the fire sooner than most anticipated.

Next season, with five star freshman DJ Carton and Walker in the mix, the ball handling problems should be much easier to control and Duane Washington will be able to utilize his shooting ability more often. Walker will prove to a valuable member of this team next season and might just be the perfect person to help teach Carton the college basketball ropes.