Pickin’ the Big Ten: Nov. 22-24, 2013

Last week
Drew: 6-2-0 (.750)
Paula: 6-2-0 (.750)

Drew: 34-16-4 (.666)
Paula: 35-16-4 (.672)

I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. I mean, it’s not surprising that Drew’s doing so well, but why am I still above .500?

This week

Half the Big Ten plays in this final weekend of nonconference-only action. Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin sit this one out.

Minnesota-Duluth at Minnesota

Drew: A week after sweeping an in-state rival and former conference foe, the Gophers will get the opportunity to perform an encore in front of their home fans. This series was changed to a Friday-Sunday series because of the Gophers’ football game against Wisconsin on Saturday; Friday’s game will begin at 7:10 p.m. and faceoff is set for 4:10 p.m. on Sunday afternoon. The Gophers played well last weekend, but the scary thing — for other teams — is that they showed some of their youth and still handled Mankato with ease. This series has been close in its last 10 games. Minnesota holds the 5-2-3 advantage. With the way Minnesota is playing right now, I think the Gophers will roll through UMD and ride a wave of momentum into conference play next weekend.

Paula: That about covers it.

Drew’s picks: Minnesota 3-1, 4-1.
Paula’s picks: That about covers it. Minnesota 3-1, 4-1.

Niagara at Michigan

Drew: One game against a team with a 3-7-1 record, whose wins came over Army and Canisius. I don’t have much to say about this game. Michigan shouldn’t have any problems.

Paula: The Wolverines return to Yost Ice Arena after splitting with Nebraska-Omaha on the road last weekend, losing 3-2 and winning 4-3. After the loss, Michigan coach Berenson said, “I thought we were ready to play, and that wasn’t the case.” It’s never good for visiting teams after the Wolverines return from what they consider to be at least a semi-disappointing road trip. Michigan last hosted the Purple Eagles Oct. 4, 2011, a 5-0 win for Michigan. This is a single Friday night game that begins at 7:05 p.m.

Drew’s pick: Michigan 5-2.
Paula’s pick: Michigan 4-1.

Western Michigan vs. Michigan State

Drew: After a weekend off, Michigan State will get a chance to rebound after being swept at Michigan Tech when the Spartans face another in-state school and former CCHA foe. Western Michigan has been hit or miss so far this season; the Broncos split two games between the Alaska schools after starting the season off by getting swept in a home-and-home series with Notre Dame. They then went on to sweep Colorado College at home before losing three out of their next four games. The Spartans’ season has been less like a roller coaster — well, maybe it’s been like a really boring roller coaster with one high point, their win over Boston University.

Paula: For pure nostalgia, I’m so freaking excited about this series. Home-and-home between two former CCHA rivals? Swoon! As Drew said, the Spartans last played two weeks ago, a road series against Michigan Tech that coach Tom Anastos said was disappointing. The Spartans are 35-6-6 against the Broncos in Munn Ice Arena; the Broncos are 25-22-3 versus Michigan State in Lawson Arena. Anastos is 3-1-1 over WMU in the Andy Murray era. Last season, the teams went 1-1-1, with the tie coming at the Great Lakes Invitational Tournament. Friday’s game in East Lansing begins at 7:00 p.m.; Saturday’s rematch in Kalamazoo begins at 7:05 p.m.

Drew’s picks: Michigan State 2-1, Western Michigan 4-1.
Paula’s picks: Michigan State 3-2, Western Michigan 3-2.

Keep in touch, right?

Drew’s at Mariucci this weekend. I am going to be in one of my happiest of happy places, Munn Ice Arena, in what will likely feel like old times. Say hello, please.

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