Pickin’ the Big Ten: Dec. 13-14

There are three Big Ten teams in action this weekend, but one plays exhibition. First, some accountability for Drew Claussen and me.

Last week
Drew: 3-2-0 (.600)
Paula: 2-2-1 (.500)

Drew: 43-29-4 (.592)
Paula: 28-43-5 (.401)

Meh. For me, anyway.

This week

Michigan plays Boston College on the road Saturday and Michigan State hosts Clarkson Sunday. Wisconsin also plays the Under-18 team Friday. We only pick the games that count.

Michigan at Boston College

Drew: Picking Michigan games this year hasn’t exactly been a walk in the park because you’re basically taking a chance on which team will show up: the one that has scored eight goals three times this year or the one that turned in poor defensive efforts in losses to Ferris State, New Hampshire and Michigan Tech. The Wolverines have trended upward over the last couple weeks. The defense has played a little better, but the main thing is that the offense has compensated for any defensive-shortfalls. Jerry York’s squad is currently sixth in Hockey East and is 1-2-1 in its last four contests. I give Boston College the slight advantage in this one because of home ice, but could see it going either way. Whichever side holds the other to three or fewer goals will come away victorious.

Paula: These teams met to mark the beginning of the 2013-2014 season, a 3-1 Michigan win in Yost Ice Arena Oct. 10, 2013. The Wolverines have won four straight games in this series, and Red Berenson is 29-22-1 all-time against Jerry York, going back to when York skippered Bowling Green (1979-1994). Michigan’s last win at Boston College was Dec. 27, 1950. This Saturday contest begins at 7:00 p.m. and is not televised.

Drew’s pick: Boston College 4-2.
Paula’s pick: I’m not calling against the Wolverines until they lose, no matter the odds. Michigan 3-2.

Clarkson at Michigan State

Drew: This game is obviously the less-thrilling of the two Big Ten games this weekend. It features two teams that have gotten off to the less-than-stellar starts. Michigan State currently owns a 5-9-1 record and Clarkson is 6-7-4. After correctly predicting a tie in last Saturday’s game between Minnesota and Michigan State, I’m tempted to do it again. (The patting myself on the back for picking a tie quickly ceased when Michigan made my Ohio State upset pick look foolish). The Spartans’ offense is averaging 2.12 goals per game and Clarkson’s defense is averaging two goals allowed per game, so there’s a good chance that the difference in the game will be whether or not Jake Hildebrand can hold Clarkson to one goal. I don’t have much confidence in Michigan State after its split with Princeton a couple weeks ago, but I think home ice should help the Spartans take down this ECAC opponent.

Paula: I respectfully disagree that this match is the “less-thrilling” of the league’s two D-I offerings this weekend. A Clarkson-Michigan State game doesn’t have the visibility of Michigan’s game against Boston College, but there’s no reason to expect that this contest will be dull. Michigan State is playing good hockey, as evidenced by the Spartans’ performance against Minnesota Saturday night, one of the best games I’ve seen from start to finish this year. Any unranked team that can bounce back from a 5-0 loss and dictate the terms of the follow night’s 3-3 tie against a top-tier opponent is a team that can produce plenty of excitement. Clarkson won its single game against St. Lawrence — another tough team — last weekend, coming from behind to do so and outshooting the Saints 31-22.

The Golden Knights and Spartans have met for one series previous to this game, a home sweep by Michigan State Oct. 9-10, 2009. This Sunday game begins at 5:00 p.m. and will be televised by Fox Sports Detroit.

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

Happy birthday, Coach!

A belated happy birthday to Michigan coach Red Berenson, who turned 75 years old Dec. 8.

Goodbye, TC

After 32 years in the business, Tim Connor has resigned his position as an associate director of media relations at Notre Dame. Closer to home, Tim or TC — as he’s often called by friends — was the Irish hockey team’s sports information director for 15 years.

It’s hard to say goodbye to such a great guy and to someone who has set the standard for what to expect from media relations people. Aside from being liked by everyone who knows him and a complete media pro, TC is an excellent writer whose talents have often been overlooked because they’ve been confined to so many press releases.

In the tiny world that is college hockey, Tim Connor will be missed.