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.