Pickin’ the Big Ten: Nov. 13-14, 2015

Last week was another good one for the Big Ten. How did Drew Claussen and I fare?

Last week
Drew: 4-2-1 (.643)
Paula: 4-2-1 (.643)

Drew: 26-13-8 (.638)
Paula: 26-13-8 (.638)

This week

Five Big Ten teams play in nonconference action this weekend. After unseating North Dakota last weekend, Wisconsin has a bye.

Canisius at Ohio State

Drew: I’m not sure I can confidently pick this series either way, both teams have struggled and a case could be made for a split or a sweep by either squad. That being said, I’m going to say Ohio State uses some confidence from its first win of the season and turns it into a nice little three-game streak.

Paula: This is the third year in a row that the Buckeyes and Golden Griffins are meeting, with Ohio State holding a 3-0-1 record in the previous four meetings. Canisius (2-5-0) dropped a single home game to Merrimack last weekend; the Buckeyes (1-7-0) registered their first win of the season last Saturday when they redeemed a home split against Mercyhurst. Friday’s game begins at 7:00 p.m., Saturday’s at 4:00 p.m. and neither is televised.

Drew’s picks: Ohio State 4-2, 3-2.
Paula’s picks: Canisius 3-2, Ohio State 3-2.

Michigan State at Boston College

Drew: The Spartans unleashed the offense last time out against New Hampshire, scoring a dozen goals over the weekend, but playing against Boston College in its house is a whole different animal. Jake Hildebrand gives Michigan State a chance to win every game, but I don’t see a victory for MSU here.

Paula’s picks: If this were a series, I’d give the Spartans a nod for one of them — but not in a single game, not in Boston. The Spartans (4-3-1) ride a three-game win streak into the Conte Forum to face the Eagles (8-1-0), who have a seven-game win streak of their own to defend. BC junior goaltender Thatcher Demko has insane numbers this season (.974 SV%, 0.67 GAA) and I have to wonder if the Spartans can solve him at all — or if anyone can, for that matter, as he has six shutouts this season. The Spartans and Eagles met last year in East Lansing, a 3-2 BC win (Nov. 14), after which BC coach Jerry York made a joke about the first banner he saw hanging from the rafters as he emerged from the tunnel into Munn Arena, the banner that commemorates Michigan State’s 2007 come-from-behind NCAA Championship … against Boston College. This is a Friday game that begins at 7:00 p.m. and is not televised.

Drew’s pick: Boston College 4-2.
Paula’s pick: Boston College 2-0.

Minnesota vs. Minnesota State

Drew: I’m actually going to dust off the laptop and cover my first game of the season on Saturday. Both of these teams got off to slow starts and have been coming on in recent weeks. If one team does manage a sweep, I believe it would be Minnesota State winning at home on Friday and carrying that momentum over to Saturday, but I’m going to play it safe and pick a split.

Paula: Each of these teams picked up good road splits last weekend, with the Mavericks (5-5-0) losing to Ferris State 7-4 before winning 3-2, and the Golden Gophers (3-4-0) losing to Notre Dame 4-3 before winning 4-1. Minnesota is 35-11-6 all-time against Minnesota State with a 6-4-0 edge in the last ten meetings. Minnesota State hosts Friday’s game at 7:00 p.m., and the game will be televised by Charter Cable and Comcast 999; Saturday’s game in Minneapolis begins at 7:00 p.m. and is carried by Fox Sports North and Sports Time Ohio.

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

Niagara at Michigan

Drew: Niagara picking up a tie against Penn State last weekend should have served as a wake-up call for the Wolverines this week, not that Michigan needed much more motivation after getting embarrassed on its home ice by Robert Morris last time out. I think Michigan will pick up the win here; its goaltending needs to improve a lot before its trip to Boston, however.

Paula: I disagree that losing to Robert Morris is an embarrassment. The Colonials are a good team and were ranked when they went into Ann Arbor last weekend — and were it not for Michigan’s resolve on Friday night, RMU would have swept UM. This week, Niagara (0-5-2) should provide some redemption for Michigan (4-1-1). This is the 10th time the Purple Eagles and Wolverines will meet. The last meeting was Nov. 22, 2013, a 6-0 home win for Michigan, who holds an 8-1-0 record against Niagara. This single game Friday night begins at 7:30 p.m. and is not televised.

Drew’s pick: Michigan 5-3.
Paula’s pick: Michigan 3-2.

Sacred Heart at Penn State

Drew: Penn State proved last weekend that it isn’t a team that you can automatically pick to pick up a victory over a lesser team. The Nittany Lions face a Sacred Heart team that has gotten off to a decent 5-3-1 start this season. Penn State has gone 0-1-2 the past two weekends and could use some good results to think about during its trip to Alaska next weekend. I’m going to pick a tie on Friday, which never works out for me, but I’m feeling risky.

Paula: The Pioneers are 0-7-0 all-time against Big Ten schools, including a 2-1 loss to Penn State Nov. 8, 2013. The Nittany Lions (4-2-2) look to halt a three-game winless (0-1-2) streak. Friday’s game begins at 7:00 p.m., Saturday’s at 4:00 p.m. and neither is televised.

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