Pickin’ the Big Ten: Oct. 24-26

It’s early, and it’s not pretty.

Last week
Drew: 3-6-1 (.350)
Paula: 2-7-1 (.200)

Season
Drew: 7-10-2 (.421)
Paula: 5-12-2 (.316)

I did call the New Hampshire-Michigan split … with each team winning on the night opposite of when I picked it to win. Story of my life.

This week

There are four Big Ten teams in action. Ohio State returns to play next weekend, while Wisconsin’s breather lasts until Nov. 7.

Bemidji State at Minnesota

Drew: Bemidji State teams tend to have a scrappy tenancy to them, and this year’s squad already proved it can step up for big games when it waltzed into Ralph Engelstad Arena and hung five goals on North Dakota. Both teams are coming off of a bye week and Bemidji has a relatively short bus trip, so neither team should have to deal with any fatigue. My call is that Friday’s game is a close contest that could go either way and the Gophers will win handily on Saturday.

Paula: Minnesota is 16-1-1 all-time versus Bemidji State, 10-1-1 of that in Mariucci Arena. Last season, the Gophers swept the Beavers in Bemidji, 6-3 and 5-1 (Oct. 18-19, 2013). This weekend marks the home opener for the Gophers, and they’ll be raising the banner for the first-ever Big Ten regular-season championship before Friday night’s game, which has an 8:00 p.m. start and is televised by the Big Ten Network. Saturday’s game begins at 7:00 p.m. and will be carried by Fox Sports North Plus.

Drew’s picks: Minnesota 3-2, 5-1.
Paula’s picks: Minnesota 4-2, 4-2.

Holy Cross at Penn State

Drew: I’d be lying if I said I knew a lot about Holy Cross, other than the fact that they were involved in something that led to one of the greatest radio calls of all time. Sorry, Gophers’ fans, but you knew what you were getting into when you read a post about Holy Cross. The fact that Penn State already has two ties this season shines light on the fact that they are an inexperienced group that hasn’t really figured out how to play with a lead and, eventually, hold on for a win. I do see Penn State as the favorite and more talented team in this match up. It’s not a very bold call, because Paula has already done it twice this year, but I’m calling a Penn State sweep.

Paula: The Crusaders visit Hockey Valley after tying and defeating American International last weekend. In four games this season. Holy Cross has scored eight goals and given up nine, all under first-year head coach David Berard (Providence 1990-1992). These teams met Dec. 7-8, 2012, during Penn State’s first season. Holy Cross swept 5-4 (OT) and 4-1. Drew’s correct about the Nittany Lions needing to get used to playing with a lead. I’m not sure he’s correct about the sweep. Friday’s game begins at 7:00 p.m.; Sunday’s game starts at noon. Neither game is televised.

Drew’s picks: Penn State 3-1, 4-2.
Paula’s picks: Penn State 4-3, Holy Cross 3-2.

No. 14 Michigan and Michigan State at No. 7 Massachusetts-Lowell and No. 12 Boston University

Drew: Though there’s no questioning that its competition has been tougher than that of its in-state rivals, I haven’t been that impressed with Michigan’s results so far this season. A team that’s supposed to be a contender in this league shouldn’t drop its home opener 5-1. The Wolverines are also 0-9 on the power play this season, which means that they’re not only not converting on power-play opportunities, they’re not drawing a lot of penalties either. It’ll be interesting to see who gets the call in goal for each game this weekend. Steve Racine looked good last Saturday, and if he gets another start on Friday and looks good, Red Berenson might ride the hot hand. I don’t think Berenson’s ready to give up on Zach Nagelvoort, however; nor should he be after only three contests.

The good news for Michigan State is that the Spartans showed some signs of a potent offense last weekend. I will do the obligatory thing and preface this statement with “it’s early,” but Michigan State is tied for the fifth-best offense in the nation. The bad news is that the Spartans split with a Massachusetts teams that they probably should not have split with. The worse news is that they head out east for a couple tough games this weekend. BU seems to be a high-flying team, so the question will be if MSU can slow the Terriers down. I don’t think the Spartans will win if that game turns into a track meet.

Paula: The River Hawks are 2-0-1 to start their season, with 14 goals in three games. The Terriers have played one single game that counted, an 8-1 win over Massachusetts. To say that both the Wolverines and Spartans will be tested in net is an understatement, but each team has capable goaltending. In his single game against New Hampshire last Saturday, Steve Racine stopped 31 shots and helped the Wolverines to their first win of the season. Jake Hildebrand began the season with a split last weekend for the Spartans with a less-than-stellar save percentage (.865) in the set, but Hildebrand has proven himself repeatedly.

It’s overall team defense that may catch each of these Big Ten teams, and it’s overall team play that is Berenson’s main concern for sure. A lack of cohesion led to what the Wolverines deemed an “embarrassing” outing against New Hampshire last Friday night. With Racine in net on Saturday, though, Michigan settled down. I would be surprised if the junior didn’t start against Lowell Friday night.

As for the Spartans, it is nice to see them find the net in the early going and they always strive to play together as a unit. Against the Minutemen last weekend, Michigan State allowed three late third-period goals, something that could have cost them Friday but didn’t, and something that bit them mightily Saturday night, a 4-3 loss they led 3-2 until 15:28 in the third.

Michigan is 2-1 all-time against UMass-Lowell, with the last meeting a 2-1 Minutemen win in Yost Ice Arena, Oct. 26, 2013. The series between the Wolverines and Terriers dates back to 1950, with Michigan holding a 14-10 lead. Last season, the Terriers lost to the Wolverines, 2-1, in Yost (Oct. 25, 2013).

Michigan State is 9-8 all-time against Boston University; the Spartans beat the Terriers, 3-1, Oct. 26, 2013 in Munn Ice Arena. The previous night, Michigan State lost to Lowell in Munn; the Spartans are 5-4 all-time against the River Hawks, with Saturday’s game being MSU’s first trip to the Tsongas Center.

Only one of these four games is televised, Friday’s Wolverines-River Hawks contest, which begins at 7:15 and is carried by NESN. Boston University hosts Michigan State Friday at 7:30. On Saturday, it’s Michigan at BU and Michigan State at Lowell, with both games beginning at 7:00 p.m.

Drew’s picks, Part 1: In part one of a two-part series I’ll call “Drew Attempts to Infuriate the Entire State of Michigan,” I say UMass-Lowell over Michigan, 3-2, Boston University over Michigan, 3-1.

Drew’s picks, Part 2: In the epic conclusion of “Drew Attempts to Infuriate the Entire State of Michigan,” I’m going to say Boston University over Michigan State 4-1, UMass-Lowell over Michigan State 4-2.

Paula’s picks: As someone who covered the CCHA for a good many years, I appreciate that there are currently seven Division I men’s ice hockey teams in the entire state of Michigan, and so I am aware that the Wolverines and the Spartans are not the sole representation of hockey for the entire state of Michigan. (And, for the record, I also know from the perspective of any fan in Ohio, it’s not the entire state of Michigan, but the whole state of Michigan.)

But I digress.

Each of these Big Ten teams is certainly capable of bringing a win back to the upper Midwest. The Wolverines are capable of anything from spectacular losses to hard-fought wins — or hard-fought losses, for that matter. The Spartans are one of the tightest, hardest-working teams I’ve seen.

That having been said, I’m calling a Hockey East sweep and hoping for a couple of Big Ten surprises.

BU over Michigan Friday, 3-2, and over Michigan State Saturday, 3-2; UMass-Lowell over the Spartans Friday, 4-2, and over Michigan Saturday, 2-1.

44 COMMENTS

  1. As a UNH fan it’s always great when the team beats Maine. And this year, it was great to sweep the season series by winning two of the games in exciting fashion, an OT win by a freshman (Silengo) at the ugliest hockey venue in Hockey East, Alfond, and the final game in the series with 15.3 seconds on the clock and the goal scored by Hobey Baker Hat Trick Finalist/winner Paul Thompson!
    However, what gave me the greatest pleasure was that because of Paul Thompson’s goal, a NH bred player, the totally obnoxious Maine fans were finally silenced into submission and them realizing that their team is a lower tier team in Hockey East this year. Sure, they can carry around signs that they’ve won two Frozen Fours or that every venue is “Our House” but when you come right down to it, what has their team done for them lately, 2010 – 2011? In the team’s last 5 games they’re 0-3-2. If I remember correctly that’s a whopping 2 points out of 10!
    Face it Maine fans, your team has a long road ahead of it. And, the way your team is playing right now, you’ll be silenced many more times this season. Don’t live on past glories, live in the present. Oh yeah, that’s hard to do when your team has a hard time WINNING!

    • Firstly, Maine’s long road has to start with a new coach. As long as Whitehead is behind the bench, this team will be second-rate. Secondly, as far as obnoxious goes, nothing can compare to the UNH fans at Orono last year, just sayin’

  2. Hey University of No Hardware, Yes it was a big weekend series to win over the black bears but UNH has still done NOTHING this season yet. Umile may even win the HE crown (just like last year) but BC owns the wildcats in the post season 2001, 2008, 2010 NCAA CHAMPIONS. Regan was a stud and UNH wasted that opportunity in 2008

    • A win over BC, a season sweep over Maine, 2 out of 3 against BU, a win at Miami(OH), a win at Cornell, and a tie against Michigan. what do all of these teams that UNH has played have in common?

      all were top-10 teams when they played UNH (except Maine, but you throw out records in the border war).

      That doesn’t sound like nothing to me. Even the loss to Dartmouth isn’t looking so bad as Dartmouth has beaten former number 1 Yale and continues to improve each week.

      • Type your comment here.Bharvey13 – you are doing ver ywell unti lthe last paragraph. UNH has had an excellent star tto the season, long way to go still, but Dartmouth has lost to Yale 3 times this year and have not beaten them. Despite this they have been playing well. The UNH loss to them will have little impact on them.

  3. As a die hard wildcat fan, I agree that UNH’s season success will be judged upon what they do in March. HE regular season titles are nice but haven’t amounted to anything as of late. Growing up in the great state of Maine, I’ve heard the old University of No Hardware cry too many times to count. It’s warranted-yes, but I second the notion of living in the present. As of today, Umile’s squad will most likely be dancing as a #1 in their home state avoiding a matchup with the Eagles while the Black Bears will be out snowmobiling in Orono. As far as I’m concerned, Bears fans can continue with their favorite no hardware chants, but if I were a black bear I’d be more concerned with my hockey team who has not been to the NCAA tournament in 3 years looking to be 4. The Maine program is steadily falling off the college hockey map as they struggle to recruit against the Boston Powerhouses with better programs, coaches, and facilities. Believe me Bears, I enjoy seeing Maine come tournament time – they are/were a staple of college hockey. But take a good look in the mirror and evaluate this year’s team and your program as a whole as of today – not the past. On a side note, the Northeastern Huskies WILL win the Beanpot for the first time since 1988. Go NU!

  4. If the high seeds win this week it will work out great for the final five attendance. UMD vs UM in Thursday night game with the winner playing Nodak in the Friday night game.

  5. CC played and won more games against tougher competition. That’s why they’re ranked higher than the Gophers. Check out the Pairwise Rankings.

  6. Love the blog…puts Theresa’s to shame. Granted, she has improved, but your articles are the gold standard, imho.

  7. wonderful pics. how does one get a copy of a picture? there is a picture of my son with Paul Broten standing out on the ice during the ceremony that I would love to have a copy of. thanks,
    Lori Holter

  8. Wow, I just listened to this and is it just me, or did Bucci kind of come across as a deeb? I’m usually staunchly in favor of the Bucci, but he seemed like he was being a little bit of a turd. Very surprising.

  9. My challenge to Paula is to become more familiar with the teams that are in the B1G that are not former CCHA teams. I understand that you covered the former CCHA and thus would be more familiar with those teams, but your comments on the pick blog for the Gophers mainly consist of regurgitating stats like the all time series record and the scores from the most recent contests and the TV schedule, trust me the Minnesota fans already know all of this, but you write 6 paragraphs about Michigan/Michigan State. When commenting on the Gophers back your picks up with some facts and reasons like you do for the former CCHA teams comments. I know you still love the CCHA, guess what? I would rather the Gophers were still in the former WCHA, but that isn’t going to happen. Your covering the B1G now and it would be really nice if you were knowledgeable about all the teams and if not if you would take the time to become so.

    • Well said ’92. With half of the BTHC being former CCHA schools, that only leaves three to brush up on. PSU’s history can be jotted on a cocktail napkin, so Paula, the challenge is to become intimately familiar with Bucky and Goldy.

    • I couldn’t have said it any better. I think most people who comment on here regularly know my distaste of her coverage of the B1G.

    • Well put Satriani, The CCHA is dead along with the true WCHA. We all have to deal with it, so Paula, have some respect for our fan bases as well and do your homework. Enough is enough already!

    • Agree with the sentiments expressed here. Please note: the Gopher fanbase is most likely larger than anything you’ve dealt with before. Add in the fair-weather Badger fans, who will show up if and when their squad stops embarrassing themselves. Combined, we snicker at the puny CCHA. Ignore the former WCHA powers and you can expect to get hammered on a regular and increasingly hostile basis.

  10. The Minnesota-Bemidji State matchup will be interesting. The Beavers are tough defensively, and have a lot of size… Also, this will be my first look at Leon Bristedt! Hoping for a Gopher sweep, but not over-confident…

    • I think that Gophers will do well and the big ice sheet will help to offset the size of Bemidji. I still think it will be a good contest as most interstate rivalries are. I saw Bristedt in the exhibition game and he looked good and had a couple nice stick handling moves. I am sure that there will be an adjustment period for him, but the news is that he won’t have a lot of pressure to produce right away. Anything he contributes will be gravy.

  11. Paula, how is Lowell going to to beat the Spartans on Friday and Michigan on Saturday when they play Michigan on Friday and the Spartans on Saturday? Also, the Minutemen didn’t win at Yost Ice Area last year. They are from UMass, the team that split with Michigan State last weekend. Lowell is the RiverHawks.

    • So much for that prediction. And if anyone should be brushing up on anything it should be Drew. He’ll probably pencil Michigan in for losses the entire season- and that’s his prerogative-but at least get the schools correct please.

  12. How exactly does Penn State bring a victory to the upper Midwest? I don’t consider Ohio to be a Midwestern state let alone Pennsylvanian.

    • They had 3 more PP’s than BU- I don’t think so. Let’s face it, Red has a bad history with the HEA officiating in the NCAA playoffs and these type of games with so many reviews can create a bad taste in one’s mouth. BU won the game, move on to MTU.

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