Pickin’ the Big Ten: Jan. 3-4, 2014

Well … Drew and I were both wrong about the GLI.

Last week
Drew: 4-3-1 (.563)
Paula: 4-3-1 (.563)

Drew: 53-23-7 (.681)
Paula: 55-22-7 (.696)

This week

It’s a light schedule this week before full-on Big Ten play begins Jan. 10. Only the two league teams formerly with the WCHA play this weekend; both play Friday and Saturday nights at 7:00 p.m. local time.

Mariucci Classic

Drew: No disrespect to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, but if the Engineers are the team that takes the ice to play the Gophers on Saturday night a lot of people will be displeased, myself included. (I’m making the trek to Mariucci this weekend and really want a one-two match-up). Minnesota, Colgate, Ferris State and RPI are the four teams in this year’s Mariucci Classic field. Ferris State will face RPI on Friday before the Gophers take on Colgate. The winners and losers will play on Saturday evening. Colgate definitely isn’t a team Minnesota should sleep on; the Raiders shut out Ferris State 1-0 earlier this season. After winning its own tournament eight times in a row from 1999-2006, Minnesota has struggled at the classic recently. The Gophers have won two of six Mariucci Classics since 2006. Last year they beat Air Force 4-0 and trounced Boston College 8-1.

Paula: Well, anyone who knows me knows where my heart is in this tournament. The Bulldogs were my midseason CCHA sweethearts for more than a decade. With no offense to Wisconsin fans intended, I fondly remember back-to-back Ferris State Badger Classic titles. Like Drew, I’m rooting for a Ferris State-Minnesota title game because I think it’ll be a high-caliber match.

The Gophers ended the first half of the season with a tie and win on the road against Michigan State Dec. 6-7. Colgate’s last Division I weekend of play was Dec. 14-15, two home losses against Massachusetts, but the Raiders tuned up against the Russian Red Stars New Year’s Eve, a 3-2 exhibition win. RPI ended the first half with two overtime games against Denver Dec. 13-14, a 2-1 loss and 1-1 tie, but the Engineers beat the U.S. Developmental Team in exhibition, 2-1, Dec. 15.

In an interesting note, Ferris State’s last 10 games of the first half of the season were against former CCHA foes, a stretch during which they went 7-0-3, ending with a 2-2 tie on the road against Michigan Dec. 11 and a 2-0 road win over Michigan State.

Yes, I miss the CCHA. Sue me.

Drew’s picks: Minnesota over Colgate 5-2, Minnesota over Ferris State 3-2.
Paula’s picks: I’m going sentimental. I’ll gladly eat the pick if it means calling for the Bulldogs in another midseason tournament. Minnesota 3-2 over Colgate, Ferris State 3-2 over Minnesota.

Alaska-Anchorage at Wisconsin

Drew: The biggest factor in this series isn’t a player or coach; it’s a building. Wisconsin is on a roll and hasn’t lost at Kohl Center this season. Alaska-Anchorage, the former doormat of the old WCHA, is improved this year and is near the middle of the conference, but the Seawolves are 0-5-1 on the road this year. The Seawolves have always played everyone tough and I expect that to happen again this weekend, but I’m not picking against Bucky.

Paula: Drew said most of it. The Badgers are riding a six-game win streak into the second half of the season, having finished up the first half with a pair of wins over Colorado College — and Wisconsin played last weekend, a two-game set against Alabama-Huntsville. The Seawolves last played Dec. 13-14, a home split against Lake Superior State. This is the first time these teams have met as nonconference opponents since 1990. The Badgers are 18-1-1 in their last 20 games against the Seawolves.

Drew’s picks: Wisconsin 3-2, 6-2.
Paula’s picks: Wisconsin 4-2, 4-1.