Pickin’ the Big Ten: Oct. 19-21

There are two B1G schools hosting Thursday-Friday nonconference series and everyone plays this weekend. First, a look at how Drew Claussen and I are doing with our picks so far this season.

Last week

Drew: 4-3-3 (.550)
Paula: 5-2-3 (.650)

This season

Drew: 9-8-3 (.525)
Paula: 12-5-3 (.675)

Poor Drew was bitten by that wrong-way split bug in Minnesota, but he did have the correct call on Wisconsin’s trip to Massachusetts.

This week

Everyone plays someone from another conference this weekend, with two Thursday-Friday series and five Friday-Saturday series. All times are local.

Sacred Heart at No. 5 Notre Dame

Drew: OK, my Notre Dame sweep last weekend didn’t exactly pan out, but I have faith that the Irish will be able to sweep these Pioneers at home this weekend. Sacred Heart gave up 14 goals over two games at Northeastern to start the season and defeated UConn at home last weekend. I think these games will resemble the opening weekend.

Paula: The Irish are 2-0-0 all-time against Sacred Heart, but the teams haven’t met since 2008. Those games were two shutout wins, so the first Pioneer goal this weekend will be the first ever against Notre Dame for Sacred Heart. I think Notre Dame handles Sacred Heart pretty easily. Games are Thursday and Friday at 7:35 p.m., and neither is televised.

Drew’s picks: Notre Dame 4-2, 6-2.
Paula’s picks: Notre Dame 4-1, 4-1.

American International at No. 11 Penn State

Drew: Penn State has historically been pretty good at home and American International is 0-4-1 this season with losses to Army, UConn and UMass. The Nittany Lions should be able to outscore their opposition this weekend.

Paula: The Nittany Lions are 3-1-0 all-time against the Yellow Jackets, and Penn State is 2-1-1 in home openers in Pegula Arena. Before Thursday’s game, there will be ceremony for the team’s two brand-new banners, one for participation in last season’s NCAA tournament and one for their 2016 Big Ten Tournament Championship. I don’t think they’ll be losing this home opener. I don’t think they’ll be losing this weekend. The games are at 7:05 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and the Big Ten Network will carry Thursday’s game.

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

No. 8 Minnesota at No. 4 North Dakota

Drew: For the second time in three weeks, Gophers’ fans will have to work to be able to watch their favorite team play a rival. Midco Sports Network has tweeted multiple times that they are “working on agreements to get the games aired on other cable TV providers” but as of Wednesday at noon, there hadn’t been anything officially announced. For those in the Twin Cities area, the Gophers did announce that there will be viewing parties at Joe Senser’s in Bloomington and Roseville. I’ll be at a wedding in North Carolina; I kind of doubt it’ll be broadcast down there.

Paula: The renewal of this long-standing rivalry is one of the best things in college hockey, in my humble opinion. Minnesota is 147-130-16 all-time versus North Dakota, and this is the Golden Gophers’ first trip to Grand Forks since the 2011-2012 season. Last year in Mariucci, the Gophers and Fighting Hawks tied 5-5 and Minnesota beat NoDak 2-0. As Drew said, there are some issues about televising these games. Friday’s game starts at 7:37 p.m., Saturday’s at 7:07 p.m.

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

Ohio State at Massachusetts

Drew: Despite getting 57 shots on goals during last Friday’s game, Ohio State ended its series against RPI with two familiar ties. This weekend the Buckeyes will try and score more than one goal per game when they travel to Massachusetts. The Minutemen have three wins this season, but the quality of those wins could be called into question. Massachusetts has beaten one-win Arizona State (its win came against them the night before), winless Union and winless American International.

Paula: The Buckeyes and Minutemen met in 2002 at the Florida College Classic, a 2-2 tie. Like Drew, I have faith that Ohio State will find some footing this weekend. Friday’s game begins at 7:00 p.m., Saturday’s at 8:00 p.m., and neither is televised.

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

Vermont at Michigan

Drew: This has the looks of a split to me. Vermont is 2-2 with both of its losses being by one goal and one being in overtime. The Wolverines are coming off of a weekend off. They opened the season by beating St. Lawrence and getting shutout 3-0 by Clarkson. I’ll take Michigan to win its home opener and drop a close on on Saturday.

Paula: These will be the second and third games ever between the Catamounts and Wolverines. Vermont beat Michigan in Gutterson Fieldhouse, 3-0, Oct. 28, 2016. I’m counting on Michigan playing tighter hockey than we saw from the Wolverines last season, right down to goaltending. Friday’s game starts at 7:35 p.m., Saturday’s at 5:05 p.m., and neither is televised.

Drew’s picks: Michigan 3-1, Vermont 3-1.
Paula’s picks: Michigan 3-2, 3-2.

Western Michigan vs. Michigan State

Drew: The Big Ten would really like to have an MSU win over an NCHC opponent in the bank after this weekend, and just like last weekend for the Spartans, I wouldn’t be surprised if each team won its home game. The Broncos split with Ferris State to open the season, took down Bowling Green in a midweek game and tied and lost to the suddenly unstoppable force that is Clarkson last weekend.

Paula: For the second weekend in a row, the Spartans have a home-and-home series against an old CCHA rival and I cannot imagine anything much better than that to coax the Michigan State faithful back to Munn, especially after last week’s exciting last-minute win over Bowling Green. Michigan State is 64-33-9 all-time against Western Michigan, but the Broncos beat the Spartans, 4-1, in last year’s Great Lakes Invitational tournament. The last series between these teams resulted in two wins for Western in Kalamazoo (Nov. 22-23, 2013). Michigan State hosts Friday, Western hosts Saturday, both games begin at 7:05 p.m., and neither is televised.

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

No. 6 Wisconsin vs. Northern Michigan

Drew: Northern Michigan seems to be off to a decent start under first-year head coach Grant Potulny. The Wildcats split their opening weekend with Lake Superior State and swept Ferris State last weekend. These two teams have played each other at least twice a year during the past six seasons. They played four times last season with both series ending in a split. I’ll pick the same thing to happen this year.

Paula: I’m not picking against Wisconsin until the Badgers lose, and a lot of that has to do with senior transfer goaltender Kyle Hayton, a genuine difference-maker for Wisconsin. The Badgers are 48-31-8 all-time against Northern Michigan and the teams are 7-7-1 against each other at neutral sites, like the Resch Center in Green Bay, where this series will unfold. Friday’s game begins at 7:07 p.m., Saturday’s at 5:07 p.m., and neither is televised.

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

A Twitterful weekend

Drew (@drewclaussen) will be out of commission this weekend, but I’ll be in Munn Arena Friday night and Yost Saturday — a perfect way to spend an October weekend. Shout at me (@paulacweston) and I will shout back.


  1. so glad you forecast moving Maine back to the East.  As a Black Bear fan, I know all too well that nothing good ever comes when playing the Gophers at Xcel.

    •  What would you be scared of playing the Goofers on the road?  The Xcel as we all know is the SIoux’s home ice during playoffs!

      • Yeah, you Sioux fans need to learn your place, the Xcel Belongs to the Minnesotans and North Dakotans can stay where they came from!!! I didn’t see a UND sign on the ice on there and funny because the two times the frozen four has been at the Xcel it was a Minnesota team who won. 2002- Minnesota, 2011- Minnesota- Duluth

        • Also didnt see very many Minnesota fans the past few years there either… both Frozen Four and Final Five…. and Sioux were by far the “Home Crowd” including cheering on UMD to win it last year.  hope the Golden Chokers can actually make it into the post season this year :-x

          • Your avoiding the point of this conversation, you all do this. Just because theres a few Sioux fans at the National Championship game doesn’t make them the home team or anything to do with who won. Also glad to hear you guys cheered for the Dogs cause I was hopeing the Sioux would take down Michigan. 

          • I think you should find a new joke because after hearing that at least 200 other times, its getting boring to listen too. Just a suggestion and you should learn the difference between showing reality and being mad.

  2. Nope, I think you hit in on the head.  I like this weeks bracketololgy and I like the layout of the West bracket. That one would be fun to watch! I really don’t think you would have to worry about the West’s attendence at all with UofUM and UND in there.

  3. My only question is why we couldn’t send Michigan to St. Paul, for a 2/8 matchup with Minnesota, and then Ferris State to Green Bay, with UMD, Miami and North Dakota.  Quite a draw there.  Seems the 4/8 Ferris State, Minnesota matchup is really unfair to Michigan.

    • My reasoning would be that Michigan is closer to Green Bay and is a higher overall seed than Ferris St, so they get placed first and get placed closer to home.  Based on seedings it would seem unfair to Michigan, but you could also argue that getting sent further away from home and being in the same bracket as a host institution is just as unfair.  My guess would be that most Wolverine fans would want to be closer to Ann Arbor and not have a match up against UND in the first round?

      On a separate note, it would have been interesting to have Minnesota, Maine, and Michigan there because ten years ago they were 3 of the 4 Frozen Four teams that played at the X.  Only New Hampshire would be missing.

  4. I too like this week’s brackets.  It’d be fun to watch a Minnesota vs North Dakota championship to see who gets the Frozen Four entry.

    • Interesting that you assume both teams would get past the first round.  After all, Michigan St has already beat and tied Minnesota this year and Ferris St is the current number 1 in the polls.  As a gopher fan, I’d obviously like to see my team in the regional final. I don’t care who the other team is, but it would be an amazing atmosphere to have the two rivals play for a spot in Tampa.  

  5. Adding Mich St to St Paul will help attendance?  That was a joke right?  You have UND and the MN there.  Mich St won’t even be able to get tickets

    • He has apparently never seen the “Sea of Green” that appears anywhere that UND plays. Add in Minnesota and there will be tickets being sold at 400 dollars a game if you dont get them early.

    •  Totally agree. It has to be a joke. Neither Michigan State or the number one seed Ferris State will be able to get tickets.

  6. Wow the best an AHA team can do is 28th pairwise and they still get an autobid.  Last time it was also AF and I believe they were 31st PWR.  This conference is not on par with the others because they don’t offer the scholarships.  Until they do they should lose their autobid because for this year, there are 12 more deserving teams.

    • The Ivies dont give schoarships and they usually aquit themselves pretty well. Harvard, Cornell have a couple banners if I remember right. Best hockey game I ever saw was in Green Bay – Wisconsin v Cornell 3OT – so schoalrships not neccesarily that key.

    • there are 12 more deserving teams

      Those teams had their chance to play themselves into the tournament.  Even if it only happens once every five years or so I would rather see Holy Cross take out Minnesota or RIT knock off Denver than see another midpack team from the WCHA or HE. 

      • Hey BM (can I call you that ? ) , as much as it broke my heart to see that Holy Cross upset of the Gophers, I completely agree with you. It is refreshing, and I will infer from your moniker that you enjoy refreshments…….

    • This is very true….however it makes things interesting when they do win (AF over UofM, Holy Cross over UofM).  Anything can happen in hockey….the best team dosen’t always win.

        • Good enough to make it through 4 rounds of intense playoff hockey and win all of their games. Also while maintaining a top spot in the league the next year after losing talent too, I see that as one of the best teams and many people would to.

  7. Can you explain the role of the “host institution” in your next column please?  It seems funny that there seems to be only one or two “hosts” each year that make the tournament.  Instead of a specific team why not have a “league” be the host.    Pick the team with the highest seed in a league when there are several.  I know there are 5 leagues so with a rotation each one is dropped out once every 5 years.

  8. Three east teams and one AHA team in the regional??  Seems like you want BC to only play another east team…..  You were afraid to pair them up to a Mich., Denver, UND, UM-Duluth???   Why not just hand them a golden chocolate bar?

    • Because the year 2005 when it was 4 WCHA teams in the frozen four, the NCAA does not want that to happen again.  Each year a WCHA team is usually screwed to appease the east teams.

      • First, this is a bracketology column by Jayson Moy, not the final bracket from the NCAA.  Chill out. 

        More importantly, the entire conspiracy thing has got to stop.  2005 was a long time ago.  And it seems you guys find a unfairness in everything.  In 2008 they put three WCHA teams in one bracket with Princeton as a 4 seed thereby pretty much ensuring at least one team would get through.  Even though that sounds suspiciously like what you saying here I bet someone thought they were trying to limit the number of WCHA in the 2008 Frozen Four by overloading one regional – even though each of the other three regionals had one WCHA team each.

        In the end, most of these moves are for attendance.    

        • The NCAA tournament is and should not be about attendance, its about selecting the best teams in the nation to play in the tournament.

          Yes we all know how great March Madness is in basketball, but it truly is not the best 68 teams in the nation playing for the championship. 

          The underdog story is a great story and refreshing, but if your talking about attandance as an issue for College Hockey, then there should be no automatic bids and the top 16 teams should compete for the Championship. 

          Lets be honest, a team like RIT, Dartmouth, Clarkson, Air Force, may have great dedicated fans, but do not attract the number of fans  ( attandance ) that the NCAA is using as an excuse. 

          Sorry reality is teams like Maine, BC, BU, Minnesota, Michigan, North Dakota, New Hampshire, bring fans ( attendance ) then the others.

          Just a thought

          • The moves for attendance are made AFTER the field is selected.  The top teams as determined by Pairwise are the ones in the field plus the AHA autobid.  You seem to think the teams in the tournament are chosen for the size of their traveling fanbase which simply isn’t the case.

          • Wrong…  You were missing the point.  I know the selection is based on Pairwise rankings. 

            If you want the argument based on attendance, then there should be NO Pairwise Rankings that the NCAA uses, and just take the top 16 attendance teams and rank them 1-16 from there.

            If your going to truly play a championship tournament then keep the integrity of the 1-16 pairwise rankings and play the tournament that way. 1 plays 16 .. 2 plays 15 and so on…..

            Yes there are so called host institutions, but somebody has to host and if there team doesn’t end up there so be it.  Only the top 4 seeds should be assigned to there closet regional.  This no one can complain about the same sites hosting and having a home field advantage. 

            Just a thought

    • Btw I personally like UND as the 14th seed, i hope they don’t move up too much and get sent out East again, we all know how much we struggle out there! Denver could be in rough shape out there as it is so maybe a split isn’t a bad thing for us this weekend.

  9. i dont think u want nodak at a 14 seed conference tournys always seem to have an upset winner somewhere or another (ex merrimack wins hockey east) if that happens nodak woud be watchin the games at home. also im kinda jumpin the gn with how much everything changes weekly and especially in the conf tournys the amount of changes in pairwise will be wild

  10. Isn’t it too early to do this bracketology stuff? All of this would be meaningless by Saturday because PWR will shift again. 

  11. There need to be more regionals in the CCHA footprint and less in the XCel Center. Every year the CCHA gets shipped to New England or to WCHA country

    • The NCAA places tournaments at XCel because it is a great venue and attendance is dependable.  St. Paul packs them in for amatuer hockey.  In March, more than 100,000 will attend the 16 team State High School tournament.  In case you haven’t figured it out, the NCAA plays where they can turn a buck and St. Paul delivers.

    • ccha needs to make the bid like when mich had back to back years at yost i believe western had a bid in grand rapids not to long ago but jd is right xcel will pack it in and make a good buck you dont get that happening at grand rapids to often

  12. Moy will have little chance of predicting the bracket this year if he keeps ignoring the rule about…

     “Conference matchups in first round are avoided, unless five or more teams from one conference are selected, then the integrity of the bracket will be preserved.”

    I think the committee would keep the Ferris St./Ohio St. matchup.

  13. If the PWR is a good indicator of who will make the tournament, then the NCAA selection is a joke.  After, the Friday Feb. 24 games, MSU and NMU are still in at 11 and 12 in the PWR.  Look at their records against TUC.  What a joke of a system

  14. moy, i disagree with your placement of air force. if they are going to slip into the tournament, they should have the same flexibility as everyone else. there should be little statistical difference between the bottom 2,3 or 4 teams , and thus no “privledge” for the 1 over all seed. im not picking on AF, its just that the ncaa’s autobid is a bunch of garbage. like said before, there is many more deserving teams then the winner of any weak conference.

    • Sacred Heart scored as many goals last night then the total both predicted for the weekend. Now I feel terrible the phantom interference call aided in our tie last Friday. Either ND had a letdown, or you are 100% correct on how far overrated the Irish are.

        • They probably aren’t deserving of a top 5 ranking in the country, but I think they are a good enough to be a nationally-ranked team. They got heavily outplayed statistically by Denver the previous weekend even though they got a tie out of one game.


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