Pickin’ the Big Ten: Nov. 28-29

Everyone plays this week. First, though, let’s look at how Drew Claussen and I are doing with the picks. (Hint: Drew’s doing just fine.)

Last week
Drew: 3-3-0 (.500)
Paula: 1-5-0 (.167)

Season
Drew: 36-21-3 (.625)
Paula: 23-34-3 (.408)

I correctly picked two series to split last week, Michigan State-Ohio State and Penn State-Michigan. Unfortunately, I called each team to win on the night opposite it won. Again.

This week

It’s all nonconference play this week, with the Shillelagh Tournament and a single game at Madison Square Garden thrown in for good measure. Not one of these games is televised.

Ferris State at Wisconsin

Drew: It’s hard to get a good read on this Ferris State team. The Bulldogs started the season with a convincing win over Michigan and then proceeded to lose five of their next eight. They then rebounded by destroying Alaska Anchorage in a series, outscoring the Seawolves 14-2 over two games, and then followed that up by splitting with Alabama-Huntsville last weekend. It’s been easier to decipher the Badgers so far this season. They’ve struggled. Wisconsin’s next eight games will be played at home and they will pick up a couple of wins during this home stand. I mean, they have to pick up a coupleof wins, right? I’ve picked Wisconsin before and the Badgers have yet to come through for me, but I’m going with them again.

Paula: The Bulldogs and Badgers last met Jan. 1, 2005, in the title game of the Badger Hockey Showdown, which Ferris State won, 5-3. That was FSU’s second consecutive Badger Hockey Showdown title. While I once again hesitate to call a split — for obvious reasons — that’s the way I’m going, too. Friday’s game begins at 7:00 p.m., Saturday’s at 8:00 p.m.

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

Michigan State at Princeton

Drew: The Spartans have had three chances to sweep an opponent so far this season and they’re currently 0-3 in those situations. That fact makes it very hard to pick Michigan State to sweep on the road this weekend, even if Princeton has a 1-6-1 record and has dropped its last five contests. I would describe MSU as having scoring woes so far this season, but Princeton’s situation is far worse. The Tigers are dead last in the nation in scoring, averaging only one goal per game. That’s more than a goal less than what the Spartans have averaged. One of these teams will break out offensively this weekend and I bet it will be Michigan State.

Paula: This is Michigan State’s first trip to Princeton; the Spartans swept the Tigers last season in East Lansing, 4-1 and 8-1. The Spartans’ scoring woes are really rooted in scoring inconsistency. They are certainly capable of finding the net. This is a Friday-Saturday series with games beginning at 7:00 p.m. each night.

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

Minnesota at Boston College and Northeastern

Drew: Boston College isn’t having a typical Boston-College-like season but, like both of us said when the Eagles played Michigan State, there’s never a good time to face BC. The Eagles have won their last three games after dropping four games in a row for the first time in a decade. It’ll be interesting to see how the Gophers respond after getting swept by Minnesota-Duluth last time out. Minnesota did drop an exhibition game to the U.S. Under-18 Team last Friday, but I don’t see anything to worry about there due to the fact that Nick Lehr was in net and the U-18 team is pretty good this year. Minnesota is 2-0-1 against Boston College in the three contests the two teams have played over the last two seasons. All three games have been at Mariucci Arena. Of course, the Eagles beat the Gophers 6-1 in at the Frozen Four in 2012 on the way to their fifth national title. Northeastern has won two of its last three games, which improved the Huskies’ record to 2-9-1. Not much to say about that game; home ice could help the Huskies steal one but I expect Minnesota to win.

Paula: This is the worst kind of dilemma. In nonconference games, I rarely pick against the Gophers and I never pick against the Eagles. Minnesota is 16-12-3 all-time against the Eagles, 8-5-0 all-time against the Huskies. Friday’s game against BC begins at 6:00 p.m.; Saturday game against Northeastern begins at 7:00 p.m.

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

Ohio State at Shillelagh Tournament

Drew: Friday’s match up in South Bend will put the Buckeyes against a team from the NCHC that also has had a less-than-stellar start to the season, Western Michigan. I’m glad to see they’re starting the two games in this tournament closer together than they did for the Ice Breaker. Hopefully Notre Dame fans arriving early combines with fans from both Ohio State and Western Michigan that made the drive to create a decent crowd. I liked the way the Buckeyes looked against Michigan State, even though their effort only yielded a split. There’s some tough competition in this field, so this weekend will be another good test for the Buckeyes.

Paula: The Buckeyes and Broncos are familiar foes from the CCHA, with a series that dates back to 1963. WMU holds a 65-61-13 edge all-time. The last time the teams met was Feb. 15-16, 2013, with a 1-1 tie and a 6-3 OSU win. OSU’s history with Notre Dame, another former foe from the CCHA, dates back to 1965, and OSU leads the all-time series 34-32-10. The Buckeyes and Irish last met in the last-ever CCHA Tournament semifinals (March 23, 2013), a 3-1 Notre Dame win. The Buckeyes and Dutchmen have met three times, the last a 2005 series that OSU swept. Friday’s game against the Broncos begins at 4:00 p.m., and games are at 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. on Saturday.

Drew’s picks: Ohio State defeats Western Michigan 3-2 and falls to Notre Dame 4-2.
Paula’s picks: I have no idea how to pick this. None. Not one of these teams is performing up to its potential, and no one seems to be playing consistently. OSU over WMU 3-2, then the Buckeyes fall to Union, 3-2.

Penn State at Cornell: The Frozen Apple

Drew: Before the season I told a friend that it would still be at least four or five years before Penn State would be a true contender in the Big Ten. After a dozen games, the Nittany Lions are making me look pretty dumb. Whether they stay this hot throughout the rest of the season remains to be seen. The law of averages says that they have to cool down eventually, but right now you can’t count Penn State out of any game. This game being at Madison Square Garden, while being a cool spectacle, takes away home-ice advantage from Cornell. Penn State should be eager to get a win and put last week’s loss to Michigan in the rear-view mirror.

Paula: I like this Penn State team. That’s all I’ve got.

Drew’s pick: Penn State 4-1.
Paula’s pick: Penn State 3-2.

Rensselaer at Michigan

Drew: Michigan’s struggle with consistency continued last weekend when it followed up a disappointingly-close home loss to Penn State with its best effort of the season in an 8-1 victory over the Nittany Lions. RPI won’t be a pushover this weekend; the Engineers have quality wins over Notre Dame and Union this season, but they also seem to be a team that has struggled to carry over momentum from one game to another. I’d like to see Michigan play well again this weekend. The Wolverines have the talent of a top-10 team that can challenge Minnesota in the Big Ten, but they have yet to play up consistently to that potential this season.

Paula: The Engineers have a 7-3-1 record against the Wolverines, but the teams haven’t met since the 2009 Great Lakes Invitational Tournament, a 4-3 RPI semifinal win. I like what I saw from the Wolverines last weekend … with the exception of the three-minute lapse Friday that led to Penn State’s goals.

Drew’s picks: Michigan 4-2, 3-1. (I feel like I’m picking way too many sweeps this week, considering how nonconference play has gone for the Big Ten so far.)

Paula’s picks: Michigan 3-2, 4-2. (I have no qualms picking a sweep. I have no qualms picking anything. Clearly, I have no ability to pick this season.)

39 COMMENTS

  1. Oh boy Theresa… Michigan getting hammered here after 1 period. They look like garbage. Not a good pick unless they figure out the next 40 minutes, which seems unlikely to me.

      • 2 for 4 – not bad for day 1!
        How did you know that BC would send their JV team (or that the refs would say, “It probably went in, plus we’re holding up game 2, so let’s just give it to Michigan”)?

    • I don’t feel that I am. I just wonder, like many others, if they truly have the depth this year. Sometimes I think they do; other times, I don’t. Right now, I’m content to wait and see. We won’t have an all-WCHA Frozen Four this year (obviously, given the Northeast Regional), but you won’t see me complaining if the conference has three of four. :)

      And you probably won’t see the NCAA complaining either, since the FF *IS* smack dab in WCHA territory …

    • Yeah, well, I wish they had. I’ve seen them enough times over the past six years to know what they can do. One of these years, I hope they actually do break through to the FF like RIT did last year.

  2. Well T – it looks like you got the West Regional almost spot on. 2-0 with Michigan over CC at this point. You still have a chance for .500 in the Midwest and the Northeast. As a UMD alumn – I’m thouroughly thrilled that you got the East all wrong. Loving UMD now. Not sure who to pull for in the Den/ND rematch. Both are rivalries for UMD, but I think I’m gonna pull for the Pios just so I can revel in all the UND whining that would en-sioux (get it?). Can’t wait to see who we draw in the UNH vs ? game. Go Bulldogs!

  3. Minnesota will have it’s hands full at BC on Friday night. On paper, Minnesota should beat Northeastern, except for the fact NU has a goalie in Clay Witt who can upset Minnesota at home, in a low scoring game.

    • While Northeastern has basically the same good team as last year, including Witt, but has gotten off to a rough start. I believe you are referring to a 5-4 home loss to Northeastern a couple of years ago. I was at that game and I have to say it was one of the most poorly officiated games I have ever seen. If memory serves me correctly Northeastern had 12 power plays in that game, with more than half of those calls being of the dubious nature. I look for a different outcome tonight. While Northeastern is playing better recently their penalty kill is at a brutal 72.7% and the Gophers power play is at 26.3%. The Gophers need to exploit that and play solid like they did against BC and get the win.

  4. I look for the Gophers to play well this weekend and while a great deal has been made of the Gophers loss to the U18 team, it was exhibition and the Gophers played at half speed all night and lines were shuffled continually all night too. The only people who any credence to the game were a few rabbit fans on the Gophers fb page and Paula. The Gophers played a good game at UMD last Saturday, UMD was hot. Gophers will have a tough test against BC even though they are down a bit this year and their goaltending is suspect, I am sure they remember losing to the Gophers at Mariucci rather convincingly 2 of the last 3 meetings. They should do well against Northeatern. Witt is a good goalie, even though they have played better recently, they have done well this year. The return of Skeji to the lineup and Cammarata to the first line should help a lot.

  5. You two might want to start re-thinking your opinion (s) about WMU this year.

    This Ferris State fan may be able to help you out:

    “Western Michigan. Where to start with these guys? Let’s start with the weaknesses…. They don’t have any. The goaltending was great. The offense looked like they were going to score every time the puck came in the zone. The defense was suffocating. Ferris played great in ths offensive zone, but it seemed like every time a good scoring chance appeared, a Bronco was there to block it. Incredibly frustrating to watch, so good luck with that, NCHC”

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