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Michigan State wrestling faces sizable challenge in Rutgers and Penn State this weekend

“You have to wrestle the best to become the best,” MSU head coach Roger Chandler said.

Big Ten Championship Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images

Fans of the Michigan State Spartans have had a lot to cheer about lately, from a football New Year’s Six bowl victory last month that capped off an 11-win season, to a turnaround basketball season where the Spartans currently rank No. 14 nationally. Hey, even MSU’s gymnastics team is ranked in the top-25 (No. 15).

Another group that’s starting to turn heads is the university’s wrestling team, which has recently catapulted into the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) rankings, up to No. 21.

This weekend, the 7-1 Michigan State wrestling team will take on Rutgers and Penn State before heading to Maryland next month. Those first two meets will be at home, in East Lansing. The Spartans just faced a tough test: No. 7 Ohio State (the Spartans’ only defeat so far this season) and No. 12 Purdue on the road (a close victory). On Monday, Michigan State defeated Indiana on the road. Now MSU has two tough challenges in a row and will host No. 14 Rutgers and No. 1 Penn State.

Penn State has four returning national champions. All of them are ranked No. 1 in their classes nationally, too — Roman Bravo-Young at 133 pounds, Nick Lee at 141 pounds, Carter Starocci at 174 pounds and Aaron Brooks at 184 pounds.

Bravo-Young will face off against Michigan State’s Rayvon Foley (ranked No. 12 and 19-2 at 133 pounds); Penn State’s No. 2-ranked Max Dean will face MSU’s Cameron Caffey (No. 15 and 19-4 at 197 pounds). That’s just two days after Caffey wrestles Rutgers’ Greg Bulsak, ranked No. 6 in the country.

The Spartans’ Brad Wilton may be a key to success for Michigan State, who lines up as an undersized heavyweight. Wilton, weighing 209, won a 2-1 decision against his 255-pound opponent from Indiana. It’s what helped give Michigan State the 17-15 edge it needed to win.

“You have to wrestle the best to become the best,” Michigan State head coach Roger Chandler said of Penn State.

Michigan State faces off against Rutgers Friday night (Jan. 21) at 6 p.m. Eastern Time before facing Penn State on Sunday (Jan. 23) at 1 p.m. Eastern Time. Both matchups will happen at the Jenison Field House in East Lansing and air on B1G+.