Pickin’ the Big Ten: Dec. 6-7, 2013

Last week
Drew: 6-2-0 (.750)
Paula: 7-1-0 (.778)

Drew: 43-20-4 (.672)
Paula: 45-19-4 (.691)

This week

There are only eight games remaining for Big Ten teams in the first half of the season, including these two conference series this weekend — which are the last league games until after the holiday break.

Penn State at Wisconsin

Drew: Both of these teams got swept last weekend, so they obviously will both be looking to get back on track. Wisconsin was victimized by the goal-scoring machine that is Seth Ambroz in its two losses to Minnesota. Penn State kept things a lot closer than I expected in its two losses to Union, but still showed off its shaky-at-best defense in giving up nine goals on the weekend. I say that Wisconsin’s experienced forwards and solid goaltending are the difference this weekend; Penn State won’t be able to get enough pucks past Joel Rumpel or Landon Peterson to keep up.

Paula: I’m with Drew on this one. The goaltending is the key.

Drew’s picks: Wisconsin 6-3, 3-0.
Paula’s picks: Wisconsin 4-2, 3-2.

Minnesota at Michigan State

Drew: The Gophers lead the Big Ten in goals per game with just more than four; Michigan State is averaging about 2.5 goals per game. I think that will be the main factor this weekend, that Minnesota will be able to get more pucks past Jake Hildebrand or Will Yanakeff than the Spartans will be able to get past Adam Wilcox. The Gophers are banged up; Tom Serratore, Vinni Lettieri and Taylor Cammarata are out this weekend. Minnesota also has a history of coming out with a clunker on the road from time to time, but I still see them prevailing this weekend with relative ease.

Paula: I don’t know how easy it will be, but everything on paper indicates that Minnesota should sweep. The Spartans’ offensive numbers are a bit inflated after last weekend’s 12-goal output in two games against Princeton. In its four previous games, Michigan State had been shut out twice and netted three total goals. I don’t see this so much as a goaltending dual as much as I do a match between the No. 2 offense in the country and the No. 26 defense.

Drew’s picks: Gophers 4-1, 4-2.
Paula’s picks: Minnesota 4-2, 4-2.

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