Pickin’ the Big Ten: October 16-18, 2015

As we enter the second weekend of Division I play, let’s look at how Drew Claussen and I did last week. It should surprise no one that his picks record is better than mine already.

Drew: 3-1-4 (.625)
Paula: 2-2-4 (.500)

At least I’m .500. For now.

This week

Every Big Ten team plays this week, and of course it’s all nonconference play, as league games don’t begin until the first weekend in December.

Mercyhurst at Michigan

Drew: The only thing I’m worried about this weekend when it comes to Michigan is the rust that could come with starting the season a week after most teams. It will also be interesting to see what Red Berenson does with his goaltenders this weekend. I believe that it will be important for someone to establish himself as the No. 1 goaltender this year for the Wolverines to go far into the postseason.

Paula: The Lakers are riding a three-game win streak into Yost Ice Arena this weekend, having split their season-opening series against Colgate Oct. 3-4 and swept Bentley on the road last weekend. The teams haven’t met since they tied, 4-4, Oct. 2, 2010. Like Drew, I’ll be interested in seeing how the Wolverines deal with their inconsistencies in net, but I’m not so certain that relying on a single goaltender will be their solution. If the Wolverines can rotate two solid, consistent goalies this season, they’ll be a formidable team, indeed. This weekend, I’m more interested in seeing line combinations and who’ll be scoring for Michigan. Friday’s game begins at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday’s rematch starts at 5:00 p.m. Neither game is televised.

Drew’s picks: Michigan 4-3, 3-0.
Paula’s picks: Michigan 3-2, 3-2.

Miami vs. Ohio State

Drew: I hate to sound like a broken record, but my forcast for Ohio State is pretty much the same as last week. If the Buckeyes want a split, their best chance will be to pick up a win during their home game in this home-and-home series. Just like last week, I don’t see a split happening.

Paula: Miami lost to Providence last weekend, 7-2, before tying the Friars 2-2. The Buckeyes were outscored 8-3 in their two losses to the Falcons, including Saturday’s 3-0 road shutout. The RedHawks swept last season’s home-and-home October series. Ohio State hosts Friday at 7:00 p.m. and Saturday’s game in Oxford begins at 8:00 p.m. Neither game is televised.

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

Michigan State at Denver

Drew: A successful weekend for the Spartans will really send a message to the rest of the conference and the rest of the country. They have the goaltender that is capable of stealing a couple games this weekend, but I’m going to play it safe and predict a split.

Paula: I can’t imagine that Michigan State is happy with last weekend’s IceBreaker outcome. The Spartans were significantly outshot in the first period of a 4-4 tie against Maine, and Michigan State needed to come from behind to make it to OT at all — and then lost the shootout. The 4-1 win the following day over Lake Superior State is encouraging. The Pioneers enter the weekend 1-1-0 after splitting with Air Force Oct. 9-10. The first game of that series went back and forth and into overtime, when Air Force’s Johnny Hrabovsky scored the game winner at 2:11. These teams are meeting for the first time since 2002. Friday’s game begins at 7:30 p.m. and is carried by Root Sports Network; Saturday’s untelevised game begins at 7:00 p.m.

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

Minnesota-Duluth vs. Minnesota

Drew: All of us, or at least most of us, were concerned about the Gophers’ goaltending going into the season. After the first week it seems that putting the puck into the net may provide some difficulty, too. With the exception of the first couple of periods of the first game, the Bulldogs owned the Gophers last year and return basically the same team. Both teams suffered disappointing losses last week so the redemption factor will be present. I think each team will win its home game.

Paula: Each team is 0-1-0 to start the season. Last weekend, Minnesota-Duluth dropped a 3-2 contest to Bemidji State, a game that was tied until Charlie O’Connor scored the game-winning goal for the Beavers in the final minute of regulation. The Golden Gophers lost to Vermont, 3-0, last weekend. In his first collegiate start, freshman goaltender Eric Schierhorn posted a respectable .923 save percentage; the Gophers managed just 24 shots on goal. In addition to Schierhorn, five rookies saw their first D-I game time against the Catamounts, and it will be interesting to see how this young team develops. The Bulldogs were 4-1-0 versus the Gophers in 2014-15, including a 4-1 win over Minnesota in the NCAA tournament. Minnesota hosts Friday, Minnesota-Duluth hosts Saturday, each game begins at 7:00 p.m. and both games will be televised by Fox Sports North.

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

Notre Dame at Penn State

Drew: It’s hard to pick against the Nittany Lions when they’re playing at home. In my opinion, that building is quickly climbing the list of toughest places to play in college hockey. Both of these teams are right on the fringe of being ranked so, according to the extremely intelligent voters in the USCHO poll, we should have a close series. I say that Penn State picks up a close win on Friday and rides the momentum to a sweep.

Paula: This is the first meeting between these two teams at the Division I level, although the programs played four games between 1983 and 1985. This is Notre Dame’s season-opening series. The Fighting Irish warmed up last weekend with two exhibition games, a 7-5 win over Guelph and a 2-2 tie against the U.S. Under-18 Team. Last weekend, the Nittany Lions beat Canisius 6-1. I agree with Drew that Pegula is a tough place to play, but I think that the Fighting Irish can take one of these. Friday’s game begins at 7:00 p.m., Saturday’s at 3:00 p.m., and neither is televised.

Drew’s picks: Penn State 3-2, 3-1.
Paula’s picks: Penn State 4-2, Notre Dame 2-1.

Wisconsin at Boston College and Boston University

Drew: Could the Badgers pick up a win or tie this weekend? Sure. Am I going to predict it? Absolutely not.

Paula: Um, ditto. Boston College beat Army 5-1 last Friday but lost to Rensselaer, 2-1, the following night. Boston University beat Union 5-3 last Saturday. The Badgers showed a lot of resilience in two ties against Northern Michigan last weekend, but I’d be very surprised to see Wisconsin pick up its first win of the season while traveling East. Both games begin at 7:00 p.m. and neither is televised.

Drew’s picks: Boston College 6-1, Boston University 4-0.
Paula’s picks: Boston College 4-2, Boston University 4-2.