Pickin’ the Big Ten: Jan. 22-23

There are two Big Ten series this weekend. First, a peek at how Drew Claussen and I are doing so far with our picks.

Last week
Drew: 4-1-1 (.750)
Paula: 4-1-1 (.750)

Drew: 57-34-15 (.608)
Paula: 62-29-15 (.656)

This week

Both Michigan teams play in exhibition against the U.S. Under-18 team this week. On Thursday night, the Wolverines beat the youngsters from the Developmental Program 5-2 and the Spartans host the lads Saturday night.

There are two B1G series this week, as Ohio State hosts Penn State and Minnesota travels to Wisconsin. Both the Nittany Lions and the Golden Gophers will have the chance to pull ahead of Michigan — currently tied with Minnesota — in league standings this weekend.

Minnesota at Wisconsin

Drew: The last time the Gophers swept Wisconsin at the Kohl Center was in 2005-06. What’s interesting is that Minnesota returned the favor after the Badgers picked up a sweep at Mariucci Arena earlier that season. There’s something else memorable about that particular season — more specifically the way it ended — but we won’t bring that up again. Long story short, I think the Badgers will find a way to pick up at least a point this weekend. I’m going to pick a split because predicting a tie is no fun, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the series ended with the Gophers winning one and the other ending in a tie.

Paula: Last weekend, the Badgers dropped two to Penn State on the road, marking the first time this season that Wisconsin failed to take at least a point in a two-game series. Minnesota swept Michigan State at home. The Badgers and Gophers can’t agree on how many times they’ve met; according to UW records, these will be the 275th and 276th games all-time, but according to Minnesota records, Friday’s game is No. 274. Also according to the Gophers, they lead this series 161-89-23. Last season, Minnesota was 2-0-2 against Wisconsin with the Badgers picking up a pair of extra shootout points. Friday’s game begins at 8:00 p.m. and is televised by the Big Ten Network, while Saturday’s 7:00 p.m. start will be carried by the American Sports Network.

Drew’s picks: Wisconsin 3-2, Minnesota 5-2.
Paula’s picks: Minnesota 4-2, 4-2.

Penn State at Ohio State

Drew: Ohio State will be down two forwards for Friday’s contest because of suspensions at the end of last Sunday’s game against Michigan. Not having those two available isn’t ideal for Steve Rohlik, but I don’t think it will affect the series too much. While we might not get as many of the post-whistle shenanigans, I expect this series to be a high-scoring one, just like last weekend’s Michigan-Ohio State’s games. If Penn State can keep the goal totals low, the Nittany Lions will leave Columbus with the majority of the conference points. If Ohio State can continue scoring like it has been since returning from Florida, it can find some success. I’m thinking split.

Paula: Last weekend, the Nittany Lions swept the visiting Badgers, outscoring Wisconsin 8-4 but needing overtime to win Friday’s 4-3 contest. Meanwhile in a home-and-home series, the Buckeyes scored 11 goals against the Wolverines — enough to at least win one, conventional wisdom would say — but came away with two points in a 5-5 tie at home with the subsequent shootout point plus an 8-6 road loss. Freshman forwards Dakota Joshua and Brendon Kearney were the two Buckeyes given DQs at the end of the 8-6 game; each has a goal this season. OSU is 7-3-0 versus PSU all-time, including a record of 4-1-0 in 2014-15. I am going against conventional wisdom with my picks, based on what I saw of Ohio State last weekend. Games are Friday and Saturday at 7:00 p.m. and neither is televised.

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