Pickin’ the Big Ten: Feb. 5-6

There are two B1G series this week. First, how Drew Claussen and I are doing with the picks:

Last week
Drew: 4-4-0 (.500)
Paula: 2-6-0 (.250)

Drew: 64-39-15 (.606)
Paula: 67-36-15 (.631)

This week

The Wolverines and Spartans face off and Penn State travels to Minnesota.

Michigan vs. Michigan State

Drew: Congratulations to Michigan State on ending its long winless streak last weekend, but I can’t pick the Spartans to win a game this weekend. Michigan’s offense is clicking at an unreal pace right now, especially its first line. The Wolverines may run into some trouble if they meet a strong defensive team later this season, but that won’t be this weekend. Michigan sweep.

Paula: Michigan and Michigan State will play for the hardware in Joe Louis Arena Friday night, and while I love the concept, I really wish I liked the trophy itself more. No matter. What counts are the points, and the Wolverines have a chance to break their first-place deadlock with Minnesota in this two-game set. Last weekend, the Spartans split on the road with Ohio State, winning 4-2 Friday and losing 2-1 Saturday, but with six points, Michigan State is still tied with Wisconsin for last place in the Big Ten. Michigan swept Penn State last weekend, a 7-4 win Thursday in Pegula Arena and 6-3 win in Madison Square Garden Saturday. Drew is right about Michigan’s offense, which leads the nation with an average of five goals per game and that line of Kyle Connor, JT Compher and Tyler Motte is the most prolific in the country, with 51 goals among them. Friday’s game is the 54th meeting between the teams in JLA — but I don’t think that past records matter much this weekend. Friday’s 7:30 p.m. start is on Fox Sports Detroit. Saturday’s rematch in Munn Ice Arena begins at 5:00 p.m. and is carried by the Big Ten Network.

Drew’s picks: Michigan 4-2, 6-1.
Paula’s picks: Michigan 5-2, 5-2.

Penn State at Minnesota

Drew: This series features two teams looking to put last weekend in the rear-view mirror. Paula got a chance to see the Nittany Lions play so she would have a better insight on them, but the Gophers looked bad at the North Star Cup. Minnesota’s play was uninspired and the Gophers flat-out struggled to score at even strength. I could see Penn State picking up a sweep this weekend, but I think Eric Shierhorn steals a game for Minnesota.

Paula: The Nittany Lions looked good in their 6-3 loss to Michigan Saturday — as good as anyone can look until the Wolverines’ overwhelming third period takes control of a game, that is. Minnesota lost 4-2 to Bemidji State and 3-2 to Minnesota State and coach Don Lucia said it all when he said that the Gophers don’t win when they only manage two goals in a game. These teams split in State College earlier this season, with the Nittany Lions taking the first game 3-2 in overtime (Jan. 8) and the Gophers winning 7-1 the following night. Penn State enters this series with a three-game losing streak, but it was only in the first of those games that the Nittany Lions were held to a single goal; PSU scored seven in two losses against the Wolverines. Friday’s game begins at 7:00 p.m. and is televised by the Big Ten Network. Saturday’s game begins at 4:00 p.m. and is carried by Fox Sports North.

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