Pickin’ the Big Ten: Feb. 6-7

Everyone plays this week and it’s all conference play. First, our picks record.

Last week
Drew Claussen: 2-1-1 (.625)
Paula Weston: 1-2-1 (.375)

Drew: 57-52-10 (.521)
Paula: 48-60-11 (.450)

This week

There are two Friday-Saturday series this week plus a single game between Michigan and Michigan State Saturday night at Chicago’s Soldier Field for the 2015 Hockey City Classic.

Michigan vs. Michigan State

Drew: When I predicted a Michigan win at Joe Louis Arena last Friday, I was intending to pick a Michigan State victory at Soldier Field in this game. The Spartans getting the upset last weekend makes me back off that pick. Michigan has had a week to think about that loss and will be eager to get some revenge. Outdoor games are a virtual toss-up, so the Spartans getting an elongated sweep is a possibility, too. I think that Michigan’s offense won’t be stopped by Jake Hildebrand twice in a row.

Paula: With all due respect, Michigan’s offense wasn’t stopped by Jake Hildebrand alone last weekend at The Joe; the entire Michigan State team defense stymied the Wolverines by clogging up lanes, executing a tight neutral zone trap and playing what can only be called man-to-man defense. It was an impressive team effort that left Hildebrand relatively unchallenged. As impressive as it was, though, I do think that Michigan will adjust for this game and get the better of the Spartans. The Wolverines and Spartans have met three times outdoors and are 1-1-1 in those contests. This is a 7:00 p.m. start Saturday and will be televised by the Big Ten Network. And for the record, I really dislike outdoor games. The temperature is supposed to hit 40°F in Chicago on Saturday, if you’re curious.

Drew’s pick: Michigan 4-2.
Paula’s pick: Michigan 2-1.

Ohio State at Minnesota

Drew: Minnesota has yet to sweep a conference series this year, which is something to be concerned about considering it has played the Badgers four times already. There just seems to be something wrong with this Gophers team. Their struggle to find the back of the net was not on display last weekend against the Badgers, considering they scored 11 goals over the two games. Minnesota’s defensive struggles, however, were on full display. Wisconsin picked up nine goals for itself last weekend, bringing its goals per game average up to 2.05. Adam Wilcox seems to have no confidence in himself right now; a lot of the goals he’s letting up are ones that were routine saves during his freshman and sophomore year. Minnesota will also be without the services of Connor Reilly for the foreseeable future. Ohio State is struggling, too, so I’m going to pick a Gophers sweep, but I wouldn’t be surprised with a split.

Paula: If you look at this from an Ohio State perspective, the same can be said: the Buckeyes have yet to sweep a conference series this year and there is something troubling OSU as well. One of the things plaguing Ohio State is injuries. Another issue is team defense — but it’s difficult to put together a coherent team defense without a coherent team. The Buckeyes last played Jan. 23-24, 4-1 and 2-0 road losses to Michigan State. OSU will try to snap a four-game losing streak in Minneapolis, a difficult place to do so even though the Buckeyes have a better road record (5-5-2) than home record (2-7-0). Last weekend, the Gophers found a way to salvage a tie with Wisconsin on Saturday after winning Friday. These are the first games of the seasons between the Buckeyes and Golden Gophers, and Minnesota is 3-1-1-1 in Big Ten play against Ohio State. Friday’s game begins at 8:00 p.m. and is carried by the Big Ten Network. Saturday’s game starts at 7:00 p.m. and is televised by Fox Sports North Plus and SportsTime Ohio.

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

Wisconsin at Penn State

Drew: Penn State swept the first series between these two at the Kohl Center earlier in the season. Wisconsin has improved since then, but I don’t think the Badgers have matured enough to go on the road in a tough environment and pick up a win. Penn State is playing very confident hockey right now and is getting a lot of scoring opportunities. Unless Joel Rumpel has an amazing performance in the cage, Penn State sweeps this.

Paula: Last weekend, the Badgers scored nine goals in a loss and tie against Minnesota and won the extra shootout point following the tie, and Wisconsin showed real resilience in that tie, netting three third-period goals — and attaining a brief lead — to compete in that second game. Still, Wisconsin has a way to go and Penn State has a way itself in the third period, for sure. The Nittany Lions have become a team that knows how to turn up the intensity in the third period of any given game, which makes them very dangerous. Wisconsin leads this all-time series 6-3-0 and the Badgers swept the Nittany Lions in Hockey Valley last season. (Yeah, I called it Hockey Valley. It’s catchy.) PSU needs six points to overcome Michigan for the top spot in the Big Ten standings, another significant motivator. Friday’s game begins at 6:30 p.m. and is the early game on the Big Ten Network. Saturday’s game starts at 2:00 p.m. and is televised by the American Sports Network.

Drew’s picks: Penn State 5-1, 3-0.
Paula’s picks: Penn State 3-2, 3-1.


  1. Cornell can beat Dartmouth at home (since they nearly did at Thompson if it weren’t for Brisson’s shoulder and a goal light that came on too early they would have won). Futhermore, Cornell did beat RPI 5-1 at Lynah and played Yale pretty well at Lynah. Now it’s another thing entirely to actually do all this, but I think we’re starting to see the Cornell team that many people ranked highly at the beginning of the season. That and many teams are overlooking them. They’re definitely a dangerous squad for the teams above them. Am i going to bet on them to do it, absolutely not because its a fools bet but I’m not exactly writing them off either

  2. Also Big Red are officially a TUC tonight, though they’d basically need to win out until the semifinals of the ECAC tourney to get in on a non auto-bid, which is something I don’t see happening

    • It looks like Providence is pretty good and New Hampshire has a lot of issues.

      There seems to be a good balance between WCHA and Hockey East this year. I sure hope there will be more out-of-conference play in 2013-2014

  3. I don’t know that those older coaches would have any more power to stop this than the current ones do/did.  It wasn’t a coaches decision.  It was more the Big 10 forcing the ADs of the Big 10 schools to comply, if they wanted to stay in the Big 10 for other sports and as much as we all hate it, it comes down to money and keeping all the other revenue generating sports is more a consideration for the school as opposed to keeping the WCHA together or for what might be best for college hockey.  It is sad, but the fact is hockey is way down on the list as far as priorities, even in a place like Minnesota where hockey is far and away the sport that they have had the most success in.

  4. Yes, we all agree that it was the Big Ten that forced this down the member AD’s throats, and that the coaches had no say. The strangest thing about this whole Big Ten thing is, why the hell does the Big Ten care about college hockey? There’s very little money to be made on it. Everyone I’ve discussed this with said, “it’s all about the Big Ten Network and wanting the hockey games on there.” What? How can that be possible? First, college hockey is not exactly an advertising magnet. Second, when exactly are they planning on airing these games? Once college basketball season starts (which is only a few weeks after hockey), there is complete overlap in the days/times of the games. So, why would the BTN choose to air a college hockey game over a college basketball game when all the advertisers know that the latter has significantly better ratings? Note, I’m talking about national ratings, not local ratings, but national ratings would be all the BTN could care about in terms of why they want to add college hockey to their programming. 

    So, someone explain this to me. How exactly does the Big Ten Conference or BTN benefit from this monetarily?

  5. What I will always remember most about Sauer, in a negative vein, is the number of UW games I saw while following WCHA hockey where his players intentionally went to the head/neck of opponents to finish a check.  It happened way too often for it not to have been coached.  Former UW player and NHL-er Sean Hill many years ago ended the hockey career of a promising Denver player named Mike Aikens in a play that unfolded right in front me, perhaps early 1990’s or thereabouts.  Unfortunately, a part of what Mr. Sauer brought to the college game and a part of his enduring legacy, successful W-L record notwithstanding.

  6. As a MN fan I’m glad to be in a different league than N Dakota. I admire their team
    but the fan base makes the game an ugly experience. I just go to games to cheer on my team and hope for a good game. They can make it very personal. I’ve had many ND fans scream in my face and I’ve never made a comment back. All for just wearing
    a Gophers jersey. What happened to sportsmanship?

  7. Sounded more to me like Sauer was talking about Alabama-Huntsville. He specifically says something about keeping programs running.

  8. What does a college education have to do with some young fellows playing hockey anyway?  Why should I care if the players on two teams in a game are enrolled as students in some particular university?  Is it critical to my enjoyment of a hockey game that the participants be wearing uniforms that represent some school when the players themselves would probably be happy to be playing on either team?  Ice hockey is a great sport that doesn’t require an affiliation with hypocritical educational organizations.  I’ll go to junior games.

  9. Can’t disagree with the picks this week- although I think MSU has the confidence to win this game also. It will come down to goaltending. I hate watching the Spartan “trying not to lose” prevent defensive style, reminds me too much of their past system- but it works with teams that are not patient, don’t bury their chances and do not engage physically. I also believe outdoor games have jumped the shark- it is bad hockey to watch from a fan perspective, especially if conditions make the ice poor. It plays right into the under dog team’s hands IMO, slowing down speed and skill teams and putting mediocre teams on an even level. Combine that with the Spartan style and this game could be another 2-1 snoozer.

  10. Penn State slammed Vermont last weekend in Philadelphia. C.J. Musico was solid in goal for PSU. It will be interesting to see who Penn State plays in net this weekend. They have 3 goalies worthy of starting.

    • Penn State has been solid at home. With the balanced scoring they are getting, they seem safe with Musico, Skoff or McEamon

      • Again Sat you are objective when I am “who to judge”… Peace within ole boy. Skoff fan since Sioux City but watching Musico in a 2-2 game now v Wisco on B1G Network.

      • Respectfully disagree with your assessment of PSU goaltending roster. I agree that Skoff is a terrific D-1 goalie. However, McAdam and Musico are, unquestionably, bonafide D-1 goalies.
        I also believe PSU forwards are responsible defensively. PSU has a great transition game and are relentless and effective forecheckers.

        • JCN so any video you watch speaks volumes regarding PSU’s commitment to D??? Dude you are all “O” all the time and I love it…Ponder the concept and enjoy it…

          • I attended the PSU games at MSG vs. Cornell in NYC and the recent Vermont game in Philly, plus a few games at State College this year. I know it seems they are all “O” all the time, (perhaps because of their SOG totals), but watch closely. They are committed to team D and support the puck in all three zones. They have a terrific line of Bailey-Holstrom-Goodwin that is hard to stop but they do get secondary scoring too. I guess we can agree to disagree on Musico and McAdam, while we agree Skoff being a terrific D-1 goalie.

  11. Going further out on that limb again this week. MSU-3. UM-1. And I too, do not like outdoor games. May be okay for those playing, but for the fans it stinks.

    • Some of the worst games I have ever seen were the outdoor games. The games the Gophers were involved in, against Wisconsin the Hockey City Classic, it was so warm that the ice was awful and the game was too. The last year at TCF Bank Stadium it was plenty cold enough, but actually too cold for good ice and the game was lackluster at best. I was very glad to hear that the Gophers have no plans to participate in any more outdoor games in the forseeable future. Although, I really don’t care much for these games, I seriously doubt they will go away, they are too ‘in vogue” now.

      • The game at Soldier Field reminded me of skating at the pond as a kid. When the ice got mushy we would shift to boots and play with a tennis ball. On a sunny day the glare plays havoc with the tenders.

    • Horse Snot Paula and Drew, the better “D” and goalie wins this. Decatur is right: for the fans attending it stinks…Decatur, Hildy has gotta steal this one…He will…

  12. I think the long and sad season for the Badgers has finally sunk in for Wisco. He has been surprisingly absent from the comments lately. Hey Wisco, have a Bud, I will buy.

  13. If Minnesota can get some help this weekend, MSU win tomorrow night and a Wisconsin rebound on Saturday (cant believe Gophers have to resort to cheering for a WI win) and can put together 6 periods of hockey they are right back in Big Ten race. Keep waiting for this team to put everything together on a consistent basis, hope it finally happens this weekend and can gain some traction to finish the season strong

  14. We all seem to be in agreement on something; We don’t like the outdoor games. What are the chances that the B10 listens to the fans on this and do not schedule any more of these “Jokes on Ice”? I’m guessing….Never.

    • Decatur, kids love it though…Is it about us or them??? Decatur and Sat who is “Nutson”??? We are gonna bust a “nut” and get three “son”…help on the way…Minn’s gonna win the Nat Champ and Wilcox will lead the way, trust me…

      • I apologize for barging into convo without an introduction-
        I am Nutson, longtime Gopher fan, also graduated from Mankato so they are my #2 team. Have two sons who would love to be Gophers in 14 and 16 years, once they can skate a bit better. And why not Minnesota this year, wide open year nation wide and they have the talent to pull it together and get hot at end of year

  15. Mathew, anyone that knows anything about college hockey could care less if SCSU falls in the irrelevant USCHO poll. They remain #2 in the ONLY poll that counts.

      • Why? Do you really think anyone cares what the biased “experts” think, or do people only relate to the unbiased PWR rankings that determine who actually plays in the Regionals?

        • I get your point but the number that goes next to the team is the poll ranking, not the pairwise ranking, although they are usually the same if not close.

          • They are 2 entirely different and unrelated polls. A team can be ranked #24 in the USCHO poll, ranked #14 in the Pairwise, and will still make it to the Regionals. If SCSU falls to #5 in the USCHO it doesn’t mean a thing, they are still the #2 ranked team for seeding in the NCAA.

          • Exactly… Michigan Tech is ranked 14 in the media poll, at this moment but won’t even sniff the NCAAs (20 in PWR) if they don’t win their AQ. But, as we all know, the PWR is far from perfect… Dartmouth (and Cornell for that matter) is not even close to being a top 16 team… Though the PWR generally evens itself out by tournament selection time.

          • PWR far from perfect, but definitely is the best we have. Alternative is having biased humans pick and choose.

  16. Interesting to note that the UMD CC series could have easily been a split or a CC sweep. UMD didn’t lead until around the 3 minutes remained on friday and with 10 minutes remaining on Saturday. Anyone who is a UND, SCSU, or a Denver fan IMO probably should hope they dont get paired with CC in the 1st round of the NCHC playoffs.

    • We get “paired” with CC in 2 weeks, including an outdoor game at Coors Field. I totally agree they are now a much tougher team.

          • So, DU, what are your predictions for the weekend? I see DU winning Saturday. I’ll take UND on Friday. What ya think?

          • If UND is going to get any points this weekend my guess is it is on Saturday. With a few guys coming off of the injury report and playing this weekend, it could take them a game to get back in sync, so I would look for UND to lose on Friday and bounce back on Saturday. If UND can get a win on Friday that would be great because having lived in Denver for the past 20 years, it seems that every UND team that comes out here struggles on Saturday with the altitude, which is why I say “if” UND gets any points this weekend. I could see them getting swept potentially.

          • There will be no DU sweep. We have been able to play 60 minutes in only a few games this year, including our current decent streak. A lot of teams struggle with the altitude. The only team that did not this year is UMD, 3rd period was even both nights.

          • Stod, normally I would agree with you. However, having first-hand knowledge of playing in CO, visiting teams always…..always….have a harder time on Saturday. I did not think the elevation made that much difference, but hockey is so physically demanding that the elevation comes into play more than you might think. This is just one factor, we’ll see how it goes.

          • Can’t this weekend. We are going on a vacation so I am going to miss both of them. Made these plans long before the schedule came out.

          • Know where your allegiances lie, but will you be back next weekend? Going to outdoor game would be well worth your while. There are still decent tickets left for Coors game and the Rockies have really handled this well.

          • Trust me if we were going to be here, I would be there for sure. UND is my team, but college hockey is just plain fun to watch and seeing an outdoor college game would be awesome. Just not getting back to town until the 21st so we are gone that whole week. Really should have waited for the college hockey schedule to come out before I booked this trip.

          • I am hoping for a split, and I hope both teams are at full strength. With your guys coming back, I hope Grant Arnold comes back. He is our best defensive forward and his line will probably be paired against the Caggiula line.

          • Definitely mad I wont be there in person…..always a fun time in your arena. Guess I’ll have to yell at the refs from my couch.

          • Don’t you normally go? Friday game on CBSSN, Saturday on Root Sports. Really nothing like being there though.

          • We typically do. Was much easier to go when we lived in Ft. Collins. Coming from the Twin Cities makes it a little more difficult. Everyone we usually go with just had too much going on this weekend and we are all going to the series in Omaha in a couple weeks as well. It was painful to cancel the hotel reservation, always a good time around Colorado and in DU’s arena. Will definitely be watching them on tv though.

          • Enjoy your Omaha series. I think a split this weekend will put DU firmly in the playoffs, by their Pairwise rankings.

    • As a UND fan, I am not worried at all about CC. Yeah they are playing better but they still have a long way to go with this group. Next year could be a totally different story but I would rather play CC than WM in the first round. That WM team just hits everything that moves and I would rather not have to deal with that in back to back weekends as we host them in the final reg season game. That would be a tough two weeks.

      • I’m a UND fan as well haha you do make some good points about WM but i think having cagguila and schmaltz back would help us outskill WM by quite a bit. I’d pick CC barely over WM as a tougher oponent but thats just my opinion haha

      • Stod, I totally agree. WMU is so much better than I expected them to be given their W-L record. They are big, move well, and hit the snot out of you. They lack offensive talent; it’s unlikely they will outscore anyone 6-4. For the reasons you mentioned, I would be more concerned about injury (as opposed to losing necessarily) moving forward after a series with WMU. I think we’ll end up playing CC, a much preferred opponent given UND’s young and smallish team.

      • Agree, playing Western Michigan is like playing a football team. CC depends solely on Nehama since they really don’t control the puck a lot.

  17. Does anyone happen to know if there are set times for the West regional games in St. paul? Or is are the times up in the air until the bracket is released?


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