Pickin’ the Big Ten: Nov. 20-22, 2015

The Big Ten has been competitive in nonconference play so far. How competitive have Drew Claussen and I been?

Last week
Drew: 5-3-0 (.625)
Paula: 6-2-0 (.750)

Drew: 31-16-8 (.636)
Paula: 32-15-8 (.656)

Poor Drew. It isn’t often that he’s bitten by the wrong-way split. I can sympathize.

This week

There are four teams in action this weekend. Minnesota and Ohio State have bye weeks.

Denver at Wisconsin

Drew: Looks like I have to start putting some more thought into picking Wisconsin games. Denver’s losses this year have come when both teams score 7-10 goals, so the Badgers should look to open up the offense. I don’t think they can go in with a defensive mindset and pick up a win. I want to predict a win for Wisconsin this weekend, but I can’t. The win over North Dakota definitely gave the young Badgers’ team some confidence, but it also served as a reminder to future opponents not to take they lightly.

Paula: The Pioneers are riding a four-game unbeaten streak into Madison (3-0-1) after defeating and tying Minnesota-Duluth last weekend, 3-0 and 1-1. The Badgers are returning from a bye week, having last split a pair of 3-1 games with North Dakota on the road, Nov. 6-7. These teams last met Nov. 22, 2014, a 3-2 home win for Denver. This weekend, Saturday’s game will be the 150th time these two programs have faced off. Friday’s game begins at 7:30 p.m. and is televised by American Sports Network; Saturday’s starts at 8:00 p.m. and is carried by the Wisconsin Channel.

Drew’s picks: Denver 3-1, 4-1.
Paula’s picks: Wisconsin 4-2, Denver 2-1.

Michigan at Boston University

Drew: Both of these teams are giving up some goals this season (BU is averaging three goals per game and Michigan is at 3.29), so that means we should get a couple high-scoring games. BU’s opponents have scored either four or five goals in its three defeats this season, so Michigan is probably going to have to continue that trend to see success. I think the Wolverines will grab a win this weekend, but (and I feel like a broken record here) their goaltender, whoever it may be, will have to play better than he has this season.

Paula: The Terriers are defending a five-game unbeaten streak (3-0-2) after a pair of ties against Providence last weekend, 1-1 on the road and 3-3 at home. The Wolverines beat Niagara 7-3 Nov. 13. The Wolverines are 14-11-0 all-time against the Terriers, but UM is 2-4-0 against BU on the road and 0-3-0 in Agganis Arena. Drew’s right about the goaltending — but also about Michigan’s overall team defense, which needs to be much more secure. The Terriers haven’t lost at home yet this season. Friday’s game begins at 6:00 p.m. and is televised by American Sports Network and NESN. Saturday’s game starts at 4:00 p.m. and is not televised.

Drew’s picks: Michigan 4-3, Boston University 5-3.
Paula’s picks: Boston University 4-3, Michigan 6-4.

Michigan Tech at Michigan State

Drew: Where the Big Ten schedule is still half a month away, this will be Michigan Tech’s first game outside of the WCHA this season; schedules can be funny sometimes. I liked the effort Michigan State showed last weekend against Boston College and will be interested to see if it can seal the deal this weekend. I predict that Jake Hildebrand has a strong weekend and the Spartans use the home-ice advantage to pick up their second sweep of the season.

Paula: The Huskies split a pair of home games against Bowling Green last weekend, winning 2-0 and losing 3-2. The Spartans showed incredible resilience in coming back against BC on the road before losing 6-4. Tech swept State the last time the teams met, Nov. 8-9, 2013, 3-0 and 3-2 games in Houghton, and no one on this Michigan State team has beaten Michigan Tech in three meetings total. I can’t say enough about this Michigan State team. The defense is usually consistent and tight, and Hildebrand is having a good start to the season. If the offense continues to roll, the Spartans will be Big Ten contenders. Saturday’s game begins at 7:00 p.m., Sunday’s game begins at 4:00 p.m., and both games will be televised by Comcast.

Drew’s picks: Michigan State 3-1, 3-1.
Paula’s picks: Michigan State 4-2, 3-2.

Penn State at Alaska-Anchorage

Drew: No matter who it is, the trip to Alaska seems to wreak havoc on opponents. That coupled with the fact that the Seawolves have gotten off to a decent start this year could make for a tough weekend for the Nittany Lions. I think Penn State will drop a close one on Friday and comeback with the win on Saturday.

Paula’s: Anchorage split a pair of home games against Ferris State last weekend, a 3-2 overtime loss and 5-0 win. Penn State is unbeaten (2-0-1) in its last three, having swept Sacred Heart last weekend, 8-2 and 3-2. The Seawolves and Nittany Lions have met once, a 3-3 tie in the Brice Alaska Goal Rush (Oct. 17, 2014). Games are at 7:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday and neither is televised.

Drew’s picks: Alaska-Anchorage 4-3, Penn State 4-1.
Paula’s picks: Penn State 4-2, 4-2.