Pickin’ the Big Ten: Nov. 8-9, 2013

Last week
Drew: 6-2-1 (.722)
Paula: 6-2-1 (.722)

Drew: 24-11-4 (.666)
Paula: 23-13-4 (.625)

And I’d like to thank the Bulldogs and the Buckeyes for their right-way split. Such a rare thing for me.

This week

There are three nonconference series this weekend and a single nonconference game. Both Michigan and Wisconsin have the weekend off.

Michigan State at Michigan Tech

Drew: The Spartans have quietly won three in a row. Granted last week’s home sweep over American International isn’t the most impressive thing in the world. In the last three games Michigan State has outscored its opponents 12-5, averaged 40 shots on goal, taken five or fewer penalties and scored two power play goals. If they continue playing like that this weekend at Michigan Tech, they shouldn’t have any problem with the Huskies.

Paula: Last weekend, the Spartans swept American International at home, outscoring the Yellow Jackets 9-4 in the process. Sunday’s 4-0 game gave senior MSU goaltender Will Yanakeff his first win of the season and his fifth career shutout. The Huskies spent the weekend in Ann Arbor, where they lost two good, close games to the Wolverines. MSU hasn’t played a regular-season series in Marquette since 1984, when coaches Tom Anastos and Kelly Miller played for the Spartans. The teams last met Dec. 29, 2011, in semifinal game of the Great Lakes Invitational Tournament, a 3-1 Michigan State win. MTU coach Mel Pearson calls his team “the best 1-6-1 team around,” and I believe him. This will be a test for both teams. Games are at 7:07 p.m. both Friday and Saturday.

Drew’s picks: Michigan State 4-2 and 3-3 tie.
Paula’s picks: Michigan State 3-1, Michigan Tech 2-1.

Minnesota at Notre Dame

Drew:A top-five match-up and a father versus his son, this ought to be a good one. Minnesota will get its first true road test this weekend, and it’ll be interesting to he how its youngsters react to not playing in the friendly confines of Mariucci Arena. The Gophers traveled to Bemidji in week two, but the amount of Gophers’ fans that always make that trip almost makes Sanford Center a second home, or at the very least a neutral site, for the weekend. For Minnesota to be successful this weekend, it’ll have to basically continue what it has been doing. I think the first goal will be crucial in both games. If the Gophers can take the crowd out of the game early, I think they’ll ride the momentum to a couple victories this weekend.

Paula: Sure, Quinnipiac and Yale are going at it this weekend, but isn’t this the series you’d like to be attending if you could. (I would be there tonight, if I hadn’t contracted Plague. Okay, so it’s not Plague. Still, it’s sidelining me tonight. And, yet again, I digress.) The No. 1 Gophers tied Boston College and beat the Eagles last weekend, 3-3 and 6-1, while the No. 4 Fighting Irish split their first Hockey East series with Vermont, losing 2-1 before winning 3-2. The teams last met Jan. 8, 2013, in Mariucci Arena, a 4-1 Minnesota win. The Gophers and Irish play different styles, and the team that can dictate the pace of play will likely be victorious. The idea that Notre Dame doesn’t like to score goals is false; the Irish prefer to play a more patient game, though, than do the Gophers. I see this series as a battle of wills and it’s too soon in the season to predict based on how each team is playing on a given night. Friday’s 8:05 p.m. start is on NBC Sports; Saturday’s game begins at 7:05 p.m.

Drew’s picks: Paula has said in the past that she’s not picking against the Gophers until they lose. I think I’ve adopted that plan as well. Gophers 3-1, 5-2.
Paula’s picks: I lied. Notre Dame 2-1, Minnesota 4-2.

Niagara at Ohio State

Drew: With the exception of Saturday’s win over Minnesota-Duluth, the Buckeyes’ recent wins haven’t been over the most impressive of opponents, but I still do not hesitate to say that this team is hot right now. For a young team with a first-year head coach, wins build momentum, no matter the team they’re against. The next four games for Ohio State are very winnable. How will the do when the Big Ten schedule starts? Well, we will discuss that when the Big Ten schedule starts.

Paula: The Purple Eagles last played two weeks ago, a road trip to Colorado that resulted in a 5-1 loss to Denver and 7-4 loss to Air Force. While Niagara is capable of scoring six goals in a game, the Eagles are equally capable of giving up at least that many. The Buckeyes split a pair of games at home against Minnesota-Duluth last weekend, losing 3-1 and winning 4-2. It was the best full-weekend effort his team had played, said coach Steve Rohlik. Although at home, this is a good test for OSU to see if the Buckeyes can continue to evolve and compete. Friday’s game is at 7:05 p.m., Saturday’s at 8:05 p.m.

Drew’s picks: Ohio State 5-3, 6-4
Paula’s picks: Ohio State 3-2, 4-2.

Sacred Heart at Penn State

Drew: Sacred Heart has dropped four in a row since opening the season 2-1, which included a win over Mass-Lowell. Penn State scored the most goals in its long program history in last year’s 6-3 victory over the Pioneers. I like the way Sophomore Matthew Skoff has played so far this season, problem is he has been very busy in net. Skoff had a career-high 48 saves against Robert Morris.

Paula: Sacred Heart is looking for its first win since Oct. 16, a 3-1 decision over Bentley. Last weekend, the Pioneers lost 4-3 to Holy Cross and 4-2 to Connecticut. Penn State, meanwhile, beat Robert Morris 5-4 last Friday, snapping a four-game winless streak. There isn’t much to go on here other than gut. The single game is played tonight at 7:00 p.m.

Drew’s pick: I went with the home team in last week’s RMU/PSU game, and that worked out so well that I might as well do it again. Penn State 5-3.
Paula’s pick: Penn State 4-3.

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