Pickin’ the Big Ten: Jan. 15-17

After last weekend, it looks to me as though the Big Ten standings may be shaping up along the lines of how they’ll appear at the end of the season. I could be wrong, of course. I’m often wrong.

Let’s see how Drew Claussen and I are doing with the picks.

Last week
Drew: 3-2-1 (.583)
Paula: 5-0-1 (.917)

Drew: 53-33-14 (.600)
Paula: 58-28-14 (.650)

Everyone plays this weekend and it’s all conference action.

Michigan vs. Ohio State

Drew: Both of these teams are playing well right now. One, Michigan, is obviously playing better, but this should be an entertaining series. It’ll be interesting to see what the day off does to the team that wins on Friday. Sunday games can get weird sometimes. I still remember a Minnesota-Canisius Sunday afternoon matinee where the Gophers scored 12 seconds into the first and then both teams proceeded not to score for the rest of the game. There’s no denying how good Michigan has looked since its 3-2 loss to Minnesota (Dec. 12), and the Wolverines may be able to pull off the sweep this weekend. I’m going to pick a split, however, and am going to use some George-Costanza wisdom and go away from my mentality of picking the home teams to win in a home-and-home series.

Paula: Once upon a time in the late 1990s and early 2000s, this was a fun, contentious rivalry, fueled both by that irrational Michigan-Ohio State mutual hatred society — so weird to those of us who have lived in both states but who are not from either — and that brief period of time when the Buckeyes were consistently competitive. There were penalties, there was name-calling, it was … heavenly. Now, though, the rivalry is a bit muted because of OSU’s lack of recent success. That doesn’t mean that these games won’t be intense. Each team has a four-game unbeaten streak on the line, 4-0 for Michigan and 3-0-1 for Ohio State. Michigan leads this all-time series 78-34-12 and leads by roughly the same margin both in Columbus (34-17-5) and Ann Arbor (39-14-7). Michigan is 8-1-1 against Ohio State in their last 10 meetings, including a 3-1-0 record last season. The teams split their last home-and-home series, each winning in its own arena. Friday’s game in Columbus begins at 6:30 p.m. and is carried by Fox Sports Detroit; Sunday’s rematch in Ann Arbor begins at 5:00 p.m. and is televised by both Fox Sports Detroit and SportsTime Ohio.

Drew’s picks: Michigan 4-1, Ohio State 4-3.
Paula’s picks: Michigan 3-2, 5-3.

Michigan State at Minnesota

Drew: This is a good measuring stick series for Minnesota. If the Gophers want to be a team that has some postseason probability, they need to dispose of a team that can’t find a way to win as of late. Historically, even Minnesota teams that are better than this year’s have had trouble doing that (see the games against Wisconsin last season). For Michigan State fans, there’s just not a whole lot to be positive about right now. I do believe this games will be close, but I’m going to pick a Minnesota sweep. That may be because I’m slightly scared to pick a wrong-way split, too.

Paula: At this point, I think picking a Minnesota sweep is a sound thing. If the Spartans are to take points away from this weekend, I think they’ll do so Friday night. The Golden Gophers seem to be a team that applies lessons learned Friday night to Saturday games. The Spartans are looking to snap a six-game losing streak, having last recorded a win Dec. 11 against Wisconsin, and Michigan State is 0-9-1 in its last 10 games. The Gophers are coming off a road split with Penn State, with a 3-2 overtime loss Jan. 8 and a 7-1 win the following night. Minnesota is 5-5-0 in its last 10 and four of those games have gone to overtime — with two OT wins and two OT losses. The Gophers are 107-44-15 all-time against the Spartans and 6-1-3 in the last 10 meetings. Minnesota was 2-1-1 against Michigan State in 2014-2015. Friday’s game begins at 8:00 p.m. and is the second half of the Fox Sports Detroit double-header; the game is also carried by Fox Sports North Plus and SportsTime Ohio. Saturday’s game starts at 7:30 p.m. and is carried by the Big Ten Network.

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

Wisconsin at Penn State

Drew: Wisconsin has gotten points out of all three of its Big Ten series so far this season. That is, considering where they were last year, quite an accomplishment for the Badgers. That streak will be put to the test this weekend as the Badgers go into a tough building and play a team that wants to put its last game in the rearview mirror. I think Penn State gets back on track this weekend and picks up a couple Ws.

Paula: While it defies conventional wisdom, I think the Badgers will get at least a point this weekend and most likely on Saturday night. Wisconsin took two points from visiting Ohio State last weekend with a tie and the extra shootout point. The Nittany Lions split with Minnesota at home. Penn State took all four meetings between the teams in 2014-2015. Both of these games are televised as well. Friday’s 6:30 p.m. start will be covered by the Big Ten Network, while Saturday’s 6:00 p.m. game is carried by ESPNews.

Drew’s picks: Penn State 5-3, 6-3.
Paula’s picks: Penn State 4-2, Wisconsin 3-2.