NCHC picks: Feb. 28

Matthew and I went a dreadful 3-5 (.375) last weekend. On the year, I have a three-game lead, as I am 83-59-22 (.573), while Matthew is 80-62-22 (.554). Games in this conference seems to be a coin flip much of the time.

The marquee matchup this weekend has St. Cloud hosting North Dakota, with sole possession of first place up for grabs if either team can sweep.

Friday-Saturday, Feb. 28-March 1

Minnesota-Duluth at Miami
Candace: Miami, which finally won again last weekend, gets Duluth, which has been reeling, having lost four in a row. This series is really hard to pick, but generally, the Bulldogs have not been good on Fridays. Miami 2-1, Minnesota-Duluth 3-1
Matthew: Miami finally got some momentum going last weekend in picking up a surprise split at home against St. Cloud State, and I think the RedHawks could cut a little further into the seven-point gap Colorado College has opened up between itself and last-place MU. Duluth has been much better on the road than at home, though, so I see the Bulldogs denying MU a sweep. Miami 3-1, Minnesota-Duluth 4-2

No. 10 North Dakota at No. 5 St. Cloud State
Candace: This series has split written all over it. St. Cloud swept back in November, but UND was struggling then. Generally, UND has been money on Friday nights. North Dakota 3-2, St. Cloud 4-2
Matthew: It goes without saying this is the biggest NCHC series yet, and there’s every chance these two teams could still be stuck in a tie for first place — but on 42 points instead of 39 like they are now — going into the final weekend of the regular season. It’s the safe pick and I’ll probably get roasted for it, but it’s what I genuinely see happening. North Dakota 3-2, St. Cloud State 3-1

Colorado College at Nebraska-Omaha
Candace: CC looked good last weekend against Denver, and I think the Tigers will earn a split here for sure, although last weekend was also the first time the Tigers had won on the road all season. I think this series will be the reverse of their one in December. Nebraska-Omaha 3-2, Colorado College 3-2
Matthew: Colorado College comes into Omaha this week on a roll after winning its last three games, and I think they’ll pick up at least one more against the Mavericks. UNO has recent history against it — 2-10 in the final two weeks of the regular season over the past three years and 0-8 in that span over the last two seasons — but three points would go a long way toward further solidifying UNO’s chances of getting home ice in the first round of the playoffs, and the Mavericks are desperate for that. Colorado College 3-2, Nebraska-Omaha 4-2

No. 20 Denver at Western Michigan
Candace: Denver swept this one at home back in November, but the Pioneers are struggling. They’ve also been dreadful on Friday nights in the second half. Western Michigan 2-1, Denver 3-2
Matthew: Denver didn’t look good last weekend in its series with arch-rival CC, and the Pioneers need to get back on track in a hurry. The good news is that DU is facing fourth-place Western Michigan, a team that holds a slim two-point lead over the Pios in the league standings. What would be bad for DU is if Western sweeps the series and locks up at least fourth place. Will that happen here? I’m guessing it won’t. Western Michigan 2-1, Denver 2-0