It’s all Big Ten conference play this weekend, just as the Universe intended. But first, here’s how Drew Claussen and I are doing with picks.
Drew: 4-6-1 (.409)
Paula: 3-7-1 (.318)
Drew: 40-27-4 (.592)
Paula: 26-41-4 (.394)
At this rate, I’ll be lucky to hit .500 by the end of the season. Drew’s numbers temporarily backslid, but I have no doubt that he’ll rebound.
Minnesota at Michigan State
Drew: Minnesota will look to have a strong effort after a pretty bad loss to Northeastern last weekend. The Spartans’ effort last time out wasn’t that great either; a split with Princeton isn’t anything to brag about. All four contests between the Gophers and Spartans last year were close and two resulted in ties. If this were at Mariucci, I would pick the Gophers to sweep. However, the Gophers are 1-1-2 in their last four games at Michigan State so, since they’re at Munn this weekend, I’m going to predict another tie.
Paula: I think the Spartans can steal points from the Gophers as well this weekend. Both Michigan State losses to Minnesota in 2013-2014 were by a goal and the Spartans picked up the extra point in each of the ties. This is a Friday-Saturday series, and both games are televised. Friday’s contest begins at 7:00 p.m. and is carried by Fox Sports Detroit; Saturday’s contest starts at 5:00 p.m. and is on Fox Sports North Plus.
Drew’s picks: Minnesota 3-1, 3-3.
Paula’s picks: Minnesota 4-1, Michigan State 3-2.
Penn State at Wisconsin
Drew: Less than two years after getting their first marquee win as a program, a 3-2 overtime victory over Wisconsin, the Nittany Lions will go into the Kohl Center as a team that is favored to win. That fact really shines a spotlight on the job that Guy Gadowsky has done with this group. Wisconsin is, or course, coming off of its best weekend of the season during which the Badgers picked up a win and tie against Ferris State. A sweep this weekend would really make me believe that Penn State has a shot to stay in the top half of the Big Ten standings all season. The Nittany Lions lost to Cornell at the Frozen Apple in Madison Square Garden. The way the Badgers typically play on home ice I could see them sweeping, too.
Paula: These teams met five times last season, with Wisconsin taking all five. Four of the five games were decided by a goal (excluding one empty-netter) and two went into overtime. This is a Friday-Saturday series with games beginning at 8:00 p.m. each night. Friday’s game will be televised by ESPNews, Saturday’s by American Sports Network.
Drew’s picks: Penn State 4-2, Wisconsin 4-2.
Paula’s picks: I’m probably going to hate myself for calling a Wisconsin sweep, but I am. Badgers 3-2, 3-2.
Ohio State at Michigan
Drew: Michigan owned the Buckeyes during the regular season last year, going 3-0-1. This game wraps up a seven-game home stand for Michigan. The Wolverines have won five of those six games. Ohio State found itself on the opposite end of two blowouts last weekend, losing to Western Michigan 6-2 and beating Notre Dame 5-1. This game will come down to whether Ohio State’s goaltending or Michigan’s defense steps up. If neither does and it turns into a track meet, Michigan should have enough offense to win a high-scoring game. I’m saying Ohio State steals one.
Paula: After watching the Wolverines play Penn State two weeks ago, I’m not calling against them for a while. This single Friday game begins at 7:00 p.m. and is carried by the Big Ten Network.
Drew’s pick: Ohio State 4-1.
Paula’s pick: Michigan 4-2.