Pickin’ the Big Ten: Feb. 12-13

Happy Valentine’s Day! Last week, Drew Claussen and I were both bitten by the wrong-way split.

Last week
Drew: 1-3-0 (.250)
Paula: 1-3-0 (.250)

Drew: 65-42-15 (.594)
Paula: 68-39-15 (.619)

This week

Everyone plays and everyone plays on Friday and Saturday.

Michigan at Wisconsin

Drew: I think that Michigan has the best chance of the top three teams to pick up a road sweep this weekend, even though I’m picking Penn State to do the same. The Wolverines have been playing well as of late, although they did drop an overtime game to Michigan State last weekend. Michigan should also be motivated this weekend after giving up 10 goals when these two teams met at Yost in early December. The Wolverines only managed to pick up four of six points that weekend and will look for a better result this time around. Wisconsin took a weekend off after sweeping Alaska at the end of January and is looking for its second conference victory of the season.

Paula: That 3-2 overtime loss for Michigan in Joe Louis Arena was one of the best games I’ve seen this season — and that was because Michigan was forced to play against a team with a tight defense and good goaltending, at least for one night. I don’t anticipate that Wisconsin’s defense will perform to the level of Michigan State’s in that single game. It is entirely possible that Wisconsin can take points this weekend, but if they do, I think it will come in the form of a tie. The Badgers are winless in the last nine meetings between the teams. Both games begin at 7:00 p.m. and both are televised by the Wisconsin Channel.

Drew’s picks: Michigan 6-4, 7-2.
Paula’s picks: 5-2, 4-2.

Minnesota at Ohio State

Drew: Ohio State is 3-3-2 in 2016 after its impressive victories over Boston College and Cornell to close out 2015. While that may not seem like an overly-impressive stretch of hockey, it’s not bad considering the way the Buckeyes started out. OSU will look to avenge its two overtime losses at Mariucci Arena in early December. Minnesota was able to somewhat stabilize itself after an abysmal showing at the North Star College Cup by splitting with Penn State at home last weekend. I see the Gophers picking up a close win on Friday and Ohio State returning the favor on Saturday.

Paula: I see a split as well. Last weekend while Minnesota was splitting a pair with Penn State, the Buckeyes were resting, having themselves last split a pair of games against Michigan State (Jan. 29-30). Minnesota is 21-3-1 all-time against Ohio State, including a 4-1-1 record in Columbus. The Gophers won two overtime home games against the Buckeyes in early December. Friday’s game begins at 6:30 p.m. and is carried by the Big Ten Network. Saturday’s game begins at 7:00 p.m. and is untelevised.

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

Penn State at Michigan State

Drew: Michigan State played well last weekend against Michigan, but that doesn’t mean much if the Spartans are able to carry momentum from one weekend to the next. Penn State ended its four-game losing streak by beating Minnesota last weekend and could use a couple more wins this weekend to at least keep pace in the race for the top spot in the conference. Getting swept by Michigan a couple weekends ago didn’t help the Nittany Lions’ cause, but they have a good opportunity over the next three weekends to pick up some points and get another crack at the Wolverines to close out the regular season.

Paula: The Spartans are 6-4-2 all-time against the Nittany Lions, but Penn State swept Michigan State earlier this season (Dec. 4-5). Michigan State senior goaltender Jake Hildebrand has kept opponents to two or fewer goals in his last five games. Games each night begin at 7:00 p.m. and — sadly — neither is televised.

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