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College Hockey:
NCHC picks: Nov. 22

Well, thanks to picking the right dates for North Dakota and Minnesota-Duluth to win, I am back ahead in the picks race. Last week, I went 7-4 (.636) to move to 34-25-6 (.569), while Matthew went 5-6 (.454) to move to 33-26-6 (.553). Let’s see how long I can keep the lead in the six-pack race!

Friday-Saturday, Nov. 22-23

Colorado College at No. 2 St. Cloud State
Candace: CC’s disappointing season probably reached its nadir in losing to cross-town rival Air Force on home ice Tuesday night. Unfortunately, it doesn’t get any easier, and St. Cloud is looking like a strong candidate for the division title. St. Cloud 3-1, 4-1
Matthew: I keep thinking CC is due to pick up the pace on offense and nab its first win since the opening night of the season, but I don’t see either happening this weekend. Having Division I’s second-worst offense (1.22 goals per game) travel to face D-I’s second-best defense (1.80) doesn’t sound appealing for the former. Doesn’t help that the Huskies are scoring three and a half goals per outing, either, so I’m taking SCSU to sweep. St. Cloud State 4-1, 3-1

No. 8 Miami at Nebraska-Omaha
Candace: I pondered whether Nebraska-Omaha, sitting at .500, might be the hottest team in the country right now in my Monday wrap blog this week. The Mavericks really surprised me against Michigan. Miami, meanwhile, continues its search for a weekend sweep. I’ll call a split. Nebraska-Omaha 3-2, Miami 3-2
Matthew: UNO has only picked up splits from its last two weekend series, but at 4-2-0 so far this month — all against then-ranked opponents — nobody in the Mavericks’ camp is complaining. They’ll get another stern test this weekend, especially as Miami (2.08) is a lot tougher defensively than UNO (3.25). I’d pick a RedHawks sweep if this was in Oxford, but I think UNO will do enough to get another split this weekend in Omaha. Nebraska-Omaha 5-3, Miami 3-1

No. 15 North Dakota at Boston University
Candace: North Dakota has to become more consistent at some point, but I think this weekend is all about a split, and I’ll guess that it’s the Saturday curse that still does North Dakota in. North Dakota 3-2, Boston University 3-2
Matthew: BU has been decidedly mediocre so far this season, and that’s good news for a UND team maybe even more depleted than it was last week when it was hit by a flu outbreak. North Dakota only has 11 available forwards for this weekend, but with the Terriers giving up three goals per game so far this season, that’s not as big a disadvantage for UND as it could be. North Dakota hasn’t really been pulling up trees on the defensive side, either, though, so I like both teams to pick up a win here. BU 3-2, UND 3-1

Denver vs. Air Force (at Air Force Fri., at DU Sat.)
Candace: Air Force might just come out flat after pulling off the upset Tuesday night, even if the Falcons are on home ice. Denver, meanwhile, has Sam Brittain in net. Denver 2-1, 3-1
Matthew: Air Force’s 3-1 win over Colorado College on Tuesday might’ve thrown light on a shift in Colorado Springs-area college hockey dominance. However, the Falcons will have a big challenge on their hands — talons? — in trying to contain a Denver team that has rebounded well from a not-so-great start to the season. The Pioneers have won each of their last four games and five of their last eight, I think DU will get another victory here, but Air Force — winner of seven of its last eight — is too good a team right now to get swept. Air Force 2-1, Denver 3-1

Western Michigan vs. Michigan State (at MSU Fri., at WMU Sat.)
Candace: I picked Western Michigan to split last weekend, and they got swept. The Broncos haven’t won since the first weekend of the season. Michigan State, meanwhile, needs to rebound from getting swept by another in-state rival last weekend against Michigan Tech. I think this is a home-ice split. Michigan State 3-1, Western Michigan 2-1
Matthew: Michigan State is about as ripe for the picking it’s seemingly ever been, but whatever success Western has this weekend will depend largely on how its special teams units perform. The Broncos went 0-for-12 on the power play in last weekend’s sweep at the hands of Denver, and DU’s 1-0 win last Saturday came thanks to a Pioneers goal that came while DU was on a five-on-three power play. The good news here is MSU has the nation’s seventh-worst penalty-killing units (74.3 percent); the bad news is Western has the eighth-worst power play (11.3). If special teams play breaks in Western’s favor, this is the Broncos’ time to shine. If it doesn’t, this series is a toss-up. Michigan State 3-1, Western Michigan 3-1

Friday-Sunday, Nov. 22 and 24

No. 19 Minnesota-Duluth at No. 1 Minnesota
Candace: Minnesota has been playing exceptionally well, but when big rivals meet, records don’t mean much. Home ice might however, but I’ll give the Bulldogs a split. Minnesota 4-1, Minnesota-Duluth 2-1
Matthew: Given this is a Friday-Sunday series, I really wish it was home-and-home, and both these teams might feel the same way come NCAA tournament selection time. As for these two games, though, I think UMD’s issues with inconsistency might rear their ugly heads again. The Bulldogs haven’t yet put together two rock-solid games in any one weekend, and that’s going to be a difficult thing to do away to a Gophers team that is scoring goals almost at will so far this season and is giving up fewer than two goals per game at its own end of the ice. Minnesota 4-1, 3-2

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