Pickin’ the Big Ten: Nov. 18-19

B1G Hockey continues its solid start to the season with a collective nonconference record of 32-17-8 and the second-best nonconference win percentage (.632) in Division I, right behind the NCHC (.635). Drew Claussen and I aren’t doing too badly overall, either.

Last week

Drew: 6-1-1 (.813)
Paula: 5-2-1 (.688)

Even though I called the Ferris State-Michigan State split, I picked each team to win at home. Each won on the road. Bitten by the wrong-way splits bug again.


Drew: 28-19-8 (.582)
Paula: 31-16-8 (.636)

This week

Four Big Ten teams have nonconference games this weekend and Michigan hosts the Under-18 team for a single exhibition contest. Michigan State sits things out until next weekend.

Arizona State at No. 10 Penn State

Drew: Penn State hasn’t had an extremely difficult schedule these past couple of weeks, but props to the Nittany Lions for taking care of business. I think that continues this weekend.

Paula: Good teams beat the teams they ought to beat, especially on such friendly home ice. PSU is 8-0-1 in its last nine games, including the last six consecutive games — all wins — in Pegula Arena. Last weekend, the Nittany Lions swept Alaska-Anchorage, 6-3 and 3-1. The Sun Devils took on two Hockey East teams and earned their second win of the season in a gritty 5-4 overtime game against New Hampshire before falling 3-1 to Boston College. These are the first meetings between these teams. Friday’s game begins at 7:00 p.m., Saturday’s at 3:00 p.m., and neither is televised.

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

Merrimack at Wisconsin

Drew: Wisconsin has been better this season, but inconsistent defense and goaltending makes it difficult to predict a Wisconsin sweep this weekend, even at home. I see each team picking up a win this weekend.

Paula: The Badgers enter the weekend well rested after last week’s bye. They last split a pair of games with Northern Michigan (Nov. 4-5). Merrimack is 2-2-2 in its last six, having lost to Massachusetts, 3-1, Nov. 11 and tied New Hampshire, 3-3, Nov. 13. These teams have met just once before, a 5-4 Wisconsin win in the Badger Showdown Jan. 2, 2010. Both games are in the Kohl Center. Friday’s game begins at 7:07 p.m. and is televised by The Wisconsin Channel. Saturday’s game, also at 7:07 p.m., is carried by Fox Sports Wisconsin alternate.

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

No. 7 Minnesota vs. No. 15 Minnesota State

Drew: This should be a good series. The Mavericks got off to a hot 6-1-0 start to the season but are 1-3-1 in their last five games. I’m pretty sure I predicted that each team would win their home game in this series last season, and of course the opposite happened. That being said, I’m picking the Gophers and Mavericks to win their home game this weekend.

Paula: The Golden Gophers are also well-rested coming into this home-and-home series, having last played Nov. 4-5, a home split against North Dakota. Minnesota State took a point from Bemidji State at home last weekend, tying the Beavers 1-1 Friday and losing 2-1 Saturday. The Gophers are 36-13-6 all-time against the Mavericks, but Minnesota State has taken three of the last four games between the teams, including a 2-1-0 record against the Gophers last season. Friday’s game begins at 7:07 p.m. in the Verizon Wireless Center and is carried by CharMank (Charter Cable in Mankato); Saturday’s game in Mariucci Arena begins at 8:00 p.m. and is untelevised.

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

No. 14 Ohio State at Rensselaer

Drew: The Engineers have dropped three games in a row but have played better at home than on the road this season. With the way Ohio State has started this season, I’m confident the Buckeyes will pick up at least one win this weekend, but will they be able to avoid a tie in the other game?

Paula: The Buckeyes are 3-1-2 in their last six games, that single loss their only this season — but it was a lopsided 6-2 game against Robert Morris (Nov. 4). Last weekend, Ohio State defeated and tied Connecticut at home, allowing the last goal in Saturday’s 3-3 game. RPI is 3-1-0 against the Buckeyes all-time, but the teams haven’t met since 2006. Games are Friday and Saturday at 7:00 p.m. in Houston Fieldhouse. Neither is televised.

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