WCHA picks Nov. 19

Last week Theresa: 7-4-1 (boo missing the nights on the BSU/UAA split)
Season Theresa: 34-22-7

Last week Tyler: 7-4-1
Season Tyler: 27-15-3

Friday, November 19 and Saturday, November 20

No. 8 North Dakota (7-4-1, 6-2-0 WCHA) at No. 4 Nebraska-Omaha (8-1-1, 5-0-1 WCHA)
Theresa: We lead off with this series because it’s arguably the hardest to pick. In one corner, you have the Sioux, coming off a huge sweep of the Badgers. In the other corner, you have the Mavericks, still undefeated in the league after a three-point weekend in St. Cloud. In the intangibles category, you have Dean Blais, coaching against his former team for the first time in the first-ever match-up between these two teams. So, what do you go for? I think the best answer here has to be a split – UNO Friday, UND Saturday.

Tyler: UND was banged up last week going into the Wisconsin series and I doubted the Sioux, and then it swept the Badgers in Madison. Derek Forbort has returned and Andrew MacWilliam could play after both had sat out with illness. Carter Rowney, who is recovering from an upper body injury might play this weekend too. It’s hard to go against a UND squad when it’s at or near 100 percent.

Special teams will be a factor this weekend and I think the Mavericks have the edge. UND and UNO rank in the top 10 in penalty minutes so there will be plenty of power play opportunities where both teams have capitalized this season. The Sioux PP is ranked eighth in Division I (24.1 percent) and the Mavericks are no. 7 (24.5). On the flip side, UNO’s kill (88.5 percent) matches up a little better against the Sioux than UND’s PK (82.8) stacks up against the Mavericks.

UNO will put Sioux goalie Aaron Dell to the test this weekend, assuming Hakstol goes with Dell. Dell only saw 32 shots in two games against Wisconsin. I expect a lot of offense between these evenly-matched teams this weekend in Omaha and I’m going with a split.

No. 1 Minnesota-Duluth (9-1-2, 6-1-1 WCHA) at No. 15 Wisconsin (6-4-2, 3-3-2 WCHA)
Theresa: Given how both of these teams are playing right now, one could pick a Bulldog sweep (much like my counterpart does). However, I can’t imagine that the Badgers will let that happen to them; I believe that Mike Eaves will have his team raring to go for the weekend. That being said, I think we’ll end up seeing a split – UW Friday, UMD Saturday.

Tyler: This one comes down to how well the Bulldogs pounce on their opportunities. The UMD attack has the ability to score at any time but it’s facing two solid platooning goaltenders in Scott Gudmandson and Brett Bennett. For Wisconsin to have a chance, the goaltending has to be near perfect because the Badgers’ offense was ugly last weekend against UND (32 shots all weekend). UW faces the best scoring defense in the WCHA this weekend. As long as the Bulldogs don’t miss on any chances to put the puck past Gudmandson or Bennett, UMD will retain its No. 1 rank on Monday. One week after I screwed up, picking UW to sweep UND, I think they’ll lose twice this weekend. UMD sweep.

Bemidji State (2-5-1, 2-5-1 WCHA) at No. 13 Denver (6-4-2, 5-2-1 WCHA)
Theresa: Given the motivational desires that propelled the Beavers to their blanking of Alaska-Anchorage and their first win at home last Saturday, I’m tempted to call a split. However, right now, I think the Pioneers may have found a groove. Until they prove otherwise, I think I have to go with a DU sweep.

Tyler: The Pioneers assaulted Minnesota State goaltending with 73 shots on goal last weekend after they only had 80 SOG in four games against UND and Colorado College. It’s another good chance for the DU offense to continue to improve this weekend at home against a BSU defense that allows 3.38 goals per game. DU sweep.

No. 19 Minnesota (5-4-1, 3-4-1 WCHA) at Michigan Tech (3-4-2, 1-4-1 WCHA)
Theresa: We have a team that’s undefeated on the road coming to play a team that’s undefeated at home. Unless we get two ties, that’s changing this weekend. Minnesota comes off the bye into a tough road trip to Houghton against a Tech team that is not only improved this year, but traditionally plays the Gophers tough. So, what’s the call? Part of me wants to call the home team sweep … but I can’t. Instead, I’ll go with the safer bet of a split – UM Friday, MTU Saturday.

Tyler: It’s a fact that Michigan Tech can’t keep the puck out of its own net. The last time the Huskies held a WCHA team to less than three goals per game was Oct. 15 against MSU. Luckily, Minnesota is a struggling offensive team. Take away the Gophers’ 9-4 win against CC and they average 2.43 goals per game, but I only picture Tech sweeping one team in the league and it’s not Minnesota. Split.

St. Cloud State (4-6-2, 2-3-1 WCHA) at Alaska-Anchorage (2-6-2, 1-4-1 WCHA)
Theresa: The logical choice here is a SCSU sweep. The problem is, I just can’t call that right now. The Huskies haven’t proved to me why I should call them to sweep anyone right now. So, I won’t. Prove me wrong, Huskies, and all will be forgotten. For now, though, I call a split – UAA Friday, SCSU Saturday.

Tyler: UAA has a chance if it jumps on SCSU right away because the Huskies haven’t overcome a two goal or more deficit all season. SCSU also has a tough time holding third period leads, but the problem is UAA can’t bury the puck anyway (just 11 goals in 6 WCHA games for the Seawolves). SCSU sweep.