Pickin’ the Big Ten: Oct. 31-Nov. 1

There are five Big Ten teams with nonconference series this weekend. Wisconsin is off again this week. Bentley and Penn State began their two-game set last night, and Drew and I published the picks for that series yesterday. We’ll include those picks in our season total next week. (Hint: Drew’s already up on me, 1-0, before Friday’s games have been played.)

Last week
Drew: 7-1-0 (.875)
Paula: 6-2-0 (.750)

Drew: 14-11-2 (.555)
Paula: 11-13-2 (.462)

This week

Ferris State at Michigan State

Drew: It looked like the Spartans found something that resembled a potent offense in their series against visiting Massachusetts two weeks ago. Too bad they must have forgot it at home when they headed out east last weekend. Michigan State has to feel snake-bitten so far this season; three losses by one goal will do that to you. Both of these teams dropped two games last weekend so this series will be about who responds to adversity better. If this was at Ferris State, I would pick a sweep for the Bulldogs. Even though it’s at Munn, I’m still tempted to pick a Ferris State sweep, but I’m going to predict that home ice helps Michigan State steals one.

Paula: Naturally, I love the old CCHA rivalries and am looking forward to catching Saturday’s game in East Lansing. The Spartans lead this all-time series 68-35-15, but the Bulldogs are 4-0 in the last four games in the series, winning most recently in Munn, 2-0, Dec. 14, 2013. Not only did each of these teams drop two games last weekend, but each was beaten by identical scores on the road: 1-0 and 2-1. The Bulldogs have just one goal in three games, the length of their current losing streak. Like Drew, if this series were in Ewigleben Arena, I’d call a Ferris State sweep. Like Drew, I’m calling a split. Each game begins at 7:00 p.m., and Friday’s game is being carried by Comcast.

Drew’s picks: Ferris State 4-1, Michigan State 3-2.
Paula’s picks: Ferris State 3-1, Michigan State 3-2.

Michigan at Michigan Tech

Drew: This would be a fantastic series to go to. There’s nothing better than when the big schools roll into town to play the smaller in-state rival at their place. The arena should be packed and it should be a hostile environment. That will definitely give a lift to the Huskies, but it shouldn’t hurt the Wolverines’ chances. I expect that this series will produce two close games. If either team gets a sweep, it’s going to be a hard-fought one. This a prefect opportunity for Michigan Tech to prove that it is for real; it’s also a perfect opportunity for Michigan to make everyone forget about its early-season struggles. Michigan’s next six games are very favorable so doing well this weekend could be the start of a nice run.

Paula: This is Michigan’s first trip to Houghton since 1983 — the first time for the Wolverines under coach Red Berenson — and it’s only because Berenson’s former associate head coach Mel Pearson is behind the Huskies’ bench that the Wolverines are making the trip to the Yoop. This is an all-time series with history: Friday’s game marks the 218th meeting between the teams, dating back to 1927. The Wolverines lead this series 122-91-4 and Berenson is 22-3-0 against MTU. Last season, the Wolverines swept the Huskies in Yost in two one-goal games (Nov. 1-2, 2013). Each of these games begins at 7:00 p.m. Neither is televised.

Drew’s picks: Michigan 3-2, Michigan Tech 4-3.
Paula’s picks: Michigan Tech 2-1, Michigan 4-2.

Minnesota vs. St. Cloud State

Drew: St. Cloud State split its first two series against top-rated teams, so calling a split for this series might be a logical play. In my eyes, however, Minnesota is a cut above Colgate and Union, and that’s not meant to be a dig on those two programs. Minnesota has also owned the series with the Huskies. The Gophers own a 54-28-12 all-time advantage and have been great against St. Cloud in recent years. The Gophers are 7-3 against the Huskies in their last 10 meetings. The Huskies also haven’t won at Mariucci Arena since 2010, although they haven’t gotten a lot of opportunities.

Paula: I don’t see the Gophers losing, either, and I’m not going to call them to do so until they do so. This is a home-and-home series, with St. Cloud hosting Friday night at 7:30 p.m. and Minnesota hosting Saturday at 4:00 p.m. Both games are carried by Fox Sports North and Fox College Sports.

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

Ohio State at Canisius

Drew: It isn’t going to be easy, but Ohio State needs a sweep this weekend after starting the season 1-3. The Buckeyes’ first four contests were against upper-echelon teams, so they do have an excuse for their record. With a weekend off to prepare, they don’t have an excuse not to play well against an Atlantic Hockey opponent, even if the Golden Griffins have gotten off to a decent start this season. If Ohio State wants to be considered one of the top teams in the conference, it sweeps this weekend.

Paula: While I agree that the Buckeyes could use these wins for all kinds of reasons, I don’t see any Atlantic Hockey opponent as a gimme — and I am pretty certain that the Buckeyes don’t, either. Ohio State swept Canisius last season in Columbus in the teams’ first-ever series (Nov. 15-16, 2013). A cool note about this weekend’s series is that Friday’s game will be the first in the HarborCenter, a 20-story, $172.2 million facility in downtown Buffalo financed by Terry Pegula, the owner of the Buffalo Sabres and Buffalo Bills, and the fairy godfather for the Penn State hockey program. The HarborCenter will be home to Canisius, plus the Erie Community College Kats (NJCAA) and the Buffalo Jr. Sabres (Ontario Junior A). The games begin at 7:30 p.m. each night and neither is televised.

Drew’s picks: Ohio State 4-1, 4-2.
Paula’s picks: Canisius 3-2, Ohio State 4-2.