Pickin’ the Big Ten: Feb. 17-18

Last weekend was okay for Drew Claussen. For me, not so much.

Last week

Drew: 2-3-1 (.467)
Paula: 1-4-1 (.250)

Season

Drew: 66-43-14 (.593)
Paula: 67-42-14 (.602)

This week

As it will for the remainder of the regular season, the schedule has three Friday-Saturday series. All times are local.

Michigan at No. 20 Wisconsin

Drew: Last weekend meant that it might be a tad bit too early for Badgers’ fans to start making NCAA Regional travel plans, but Wisconsin has a good opportunity to get back on track this weekend when it hosts Michigan at home. The Badgers only mustered five goals against Penn State last weekend, but considering the Nittany Lions average 2.58 goals allowed per game that was maybe to be expected. The Badgers are averaging 3.62 goals per game and the Wolverines concede an average of 3.19. Couple that with the fact that Michigan’s offense has shown a pattern of going cold, especially on the road — a 4-1 win at Arizona State was the only time it has scored more than two road goals — and this looks like a Badgers sweep.

Paula: The moment I say that it looks like the Wolverines are playing their worst hockey in years, they’re just as likely to come back with a win or two as they are to prove me right. Last weekend, Michigan picked up the shootout point after a 4-4 tie against Michigan State in Joe Louis Arena, but lost the following night at home to the Spartans, 4-1, in a seriously lackluster performance, allowing three unassisted goals in the contest. The Badgers were just outplayed by the Nittany Lions. These teams split a series in Ann Arbor in early December, with Wisconsin winning 7-4 and Michigan taking the second game 4-1. Friday’s game begins at 8:07 p.m. and carried by the Big Ten Network. Saturday’s 7:07 p.m. start is televised by Fox Sports Wisconsin.

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

No. 5 Minnesota at No. 9 Penn State

Drew: This weekend is huge for Penn State if it wants to get back into the B1G title race. If the Nittany Lions can sweep, and that is a tall order even at home, their remaining games are four on the road at the two struggling Michigan schools and Wisconsin at home. It’s not an easy road to the finish, but the toughest games will be played at home. Minnesota also plays the two Michigan schools and Wisconsin in its final three series of the regular season. Minnesota easily handled Penn State on home ice earlier this month, but I don’t think Penn State will be able to repay the favor this weekend. I say split.

Paula: Game-to-game consistency can be a bit of a bug for every team in B1G Hockey, but when these two teams are playing well, they are very tough to beat. If the planets align, fans in Pegula Arena will be treated to a great series this weekend. Last weekend, the Gophers scored 10 goals in a road split with Ohio State and the Nittany Lions scored 11 in a road sweep of Wisconsin. A key point, though, is that Minnesota allowed 10 goals while Penn State allowed five. These teams split a pair in Pegula last year; two weeks ago on the big ice in Mariucci, the Gophers outscored the Nittany Lions 10-3 in two games. Either team can sweep. The Big Ten Network carries both of these games. Friday’s go begins at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday’s at 8:00 p.m.

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

No. 14 Ohio State at Michigan State

Drew: The last-place Spartans will attempt to get their first non-Wolverines Big Ten win at home this weekend. The Buckeyes have plenty of motivation after giving up six power-play goals last time out. I think Ohio State picks up a sweep here.

Paula: This is the first series between these teams this season. They’ll end the regular season with a series in Columbus in three weeks. The Buckeyes were 3-1-1 against the Spartans last season, including a 4-3 win to end Michigan State’s season in the Big Ten Championship tournament. I do think the Buckeyes’ offense is going to be too much for the Spartans, but Michigan State plays hard and the Spartans can be very opportunistic. As Ohio State’s recent scores have shown, the Buckeye defense can be porous. Both games begin at 7:05 p.m. and neither is televised.

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

Holla on Twitter

Do the kids even say holla anymore?

Follow Drew (@drewclaussen) and me (@paulacweston) on Twitter. This weekend, I’ll be at Friday’s Ohio State-Michigan State game. Benjamin Worgull (@BenjaminWorgull) has the action from the Kohl Center for Saturday’s Michigan-Wisconsin game.

7 COMMENTS

  1. Paula was polite in saying Michigan hasn’t played this poorly in years. Perhaps decades would be more appropriate. I don’t see a remaining series that the Wolverines will be favored to win a game in if they throw their sticks on the ice like they did last Saturday. A quick and expected exit from the Big Tourney will have the fans calling for a change- something that old diehards like me cannot defend any more.

    • Could it be that the highlight of their season might turn out to be Mike Legg hitting that Score-O shot between periods back at the MTU game?

  2. No one will beat Minnesota. Gophers will win Big 10 and reach national semis. I just want no part of Minn-Duluth. That is only team that can defeat the Gophers.

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