Pickin’ the Big Ten Tournament: March 20-22, 2014

And we do come down to it. Drew Claussen, that upstart, edged ahead of me admirably in the final weekend of regular-season play.

Last week
Drew: 4-2-0 (.667)
Paula: 2-4-0 (.333)

That wrong-way split in East Lansing hurts my heart.

Drew: 85-43-14 (.679)
Paula: 86-41-16 (.657)

This week

This inaugural Big Ten Tournament will be played in the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., home of the Minnesota Wild of the NHL. Next year, the event moves to Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena, home of the NHL’s Red Wings.

This is a three-day tournament, with No. 6 Michigan playing No. 3 Penn State at 2:00 p.m. and No. 5 Michigan State playing No. 4 Ohio State at 7:00 p.m. Thursday. Friday’s quarterfinal action begins at 2:00 p.m., with the winner of the Penn State-Michigan game playing No. 2 Wisconsin; the winner of the Michigan State-Ohio State game plays No. 1 Minnesota at 7:00 p.m. Friday. The puck drops for the championship game at 7:00 p.m. Saturday. All times are CDT. All games will be televised by the Big Ten Network.

To follow USCHO.com’s coverage of the Big Ten Tournament and all conference tournament championships this weekend, check out our Big Ten Playoff Central and Todd Milewski’s From the Press Box.

The field

Drew: I’m not going to really go in depth on many of the match-ups. Everybody has played each team at least four times, so we all know what Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio State, Michigan State and Penn State bring to the table. I’ll be in St. Paul for the weekend so be sure to follow along on Twitter and also keep an eye out for the recaps, features and live blog for each game that will be on USCHO.com.

Paula: The Thursday quarterfinal matches are fascinating in this tournament. The Nittany Lions have defeated the Wolverines twice this season and that series stands at 2-2 in 2013-14; the Buckeyes are 1-0-3 versus the Spartans this year, with Ohio State having taken two of the three shootouts in the series. As for that game, after the Spartans lost to the Badgers Saturday night in Munn Arena, Michigan State coach Tom Anastos said of this match, “We’re due.” Both of these contests should produce good hockey.

As for the semifinal round, the Nos. 1 and 2 are 11-1-4, collectively, against the rest of the field. Wisconsin is 2-1-1 against Michigan this season and 4-0 versus Penn State; Minnesota is 3-0-1 against Ohio State and 2-0-2 versus Michigan State.

Drew’s picks:
Thursday: Penn State over Michigan 3-2, Ohio State over Michigan State 4-2.
Friday: Wisconsin over Penn State 5-1, Minnesota over Ohio State 3-0.
Saturday: Wisconsin over Minnesota 3-2.

Paula’s picks:
Thursday: Michigan over Penn State 3-2, Ohio State over Michigan State 3-2.
Friday: Wisconsin over Michigan 2-1, Minnesota over Ohio State 3-2.
Saturday: Wisconsin over Minnesota 4-2.

Seems like old times, a.k.a. the WCHA Tournament

I will be covering the WCHA tournament in Grand Rapids, Mich., this weekend, and if you get a minute and want to join me and WCHA columnist Matt Wellens for some live blogging or want to shout at us through Twitter, please do — or, if you’re in Grand Rapids for that tourney, say hello. For me, it will very much feel like old times with both Ferris State and Bowling Green in the field … but don’t be surprised if I pop up in St. Paul, virtually speaking. Obviously, I’ll be keeping a close eye on what transpires in the Xcel Center.