It’s snowing in my corner of Michigan as I’m putting this together and Drew Claussen reports that it’s wintry in his part of Minnesota, too. It may be a little early for this, but with the turn in the weather and three B1G conference series this weekend — two in my corner of Michigan — it feels as though I’m getting a present or two. Here are our picks so far.
Drew: 4-5-1 (.450)
Paula: 5-4-1 (.550)
Drew: 27-25-4 (.518)
Paula: 35-17-4 (.661)
Each of us is creeping toward even money.
There are three league and one nonconference series, all Friday-Saturday, all single site. All times are local.
No. 4 Minnesota at Michigan
Drew: The Gophers are 10-6-0 against Michigan in regular-season Big Ten games, but they are 3-5-0 at Yost Ice Arena. Three of the four series that the two teams have played there have ended in a split; the other was a Michigan sweep during the 2014-15 season. Minnesota has played very well over the last two weekends, holding Clarkson and Michigan State to a combined three goals over four games, but I’ll predict that the split trend continues.
Paula: I think Michigan would be disappointed with a split this weekend because the Wolverines believe they can sweep. The Wolverines believe they can win every game. They’re young, confident, and playing more consistent hockey than I’ve seen from a Michigan team in a while. Last weekend at home, Michigan beat Ferris State 7-2 before losing to the Bulldogs in overtime, 3-2. Also at home, Minnesota swept Michigan State, allowing just one goal in two games. It’s because of their confidence that I can see Michigan splitting, too, but I wouldn’t be surprised with a Minnesota sweep. Games are at 7:35 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and the Big Ten Network has Saturday’s game.
Drew’s picks: Michigan 4-3, Minnesota 4-0.
Paula’s picks: Michigan 3-2, Minnesota 4-2.
No. 19 Penn State at No. 6 Notre Dame
Drew: Penn State has the potential to score a lot of goals or give up a lot of goals and lately it has been doing both. Notre Dame showed a glimpse of what it is capable of last weekend when the Irish swept at Ohio State. With the potential of getting a couple key players back from injury this weekend, I like the Irish to keep it rolling. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Nittany Lions managed to win one this weekend, but their defense is too much a of a mess to pick a split.
Paula: This is the third straight season in which the Nittany Lions and Fighting Irish have met on the ice. Penn State has a 2-1-1 edge in the series; last season, the teams played two games in South Bend, a 3-3 overtime tie and a 3-2 overtime PSU win. There is a very good chance that at least one of these games will be a high-scoring affair, as both of these teams are among the top ten nationally in scoring offense. Friday’s game begins at 7:35 p.m. Saturday’s 5:30 p.m. start will be televised by NBC Sports Network.
Drew’s picks: Notre Dame 4-3, 4-2.
Paula’s picks: Notre Dame 5-4, 3-2.
No. 7 Wisconsin at Michigan State
Drew: Even without their head coach, I think the Badgers will be hungry to pick up a couple wins after only managing a tie at home against North Dakota. Mark me down for a Wisconsin sweep.
Paula: The Badgers won’t be the only hungry team in East Lansing. The Spartans are 4-0-0 at home … and 0-4-0 on the road after losing twice to Minnesota last weekend. Michigan State has a slight edge in this series, 52-51-3, but the Badgers took all four regular-season games last season and are 5-3-0 against the Spartans in their last eight meetings. If Wisconsin wins Friday, the Badgers will tie this all-time series for only the second time ever; if Wisconsin sweeps, the Badgers will hold the edge over the Spartans for the first time in the history of this series. Games begin at 7:05 p.m. Friday and Saturday and neither is televised.
Drew’s picks: Wisconsin 4-2, 3-1.
Paula’s picks: Wisconsin 4-2, Michigan State 3-2.
No. 17 Ohio State at Connecticut
Drew: The Buckeyes could really use some positive results this weekend before diving back into their next six conference games. UConn is 3-7-1 with wins over Maine, American International and Vermont and a tie against Boston University. With the Huskies at home I think we’re going to get a couple close games and maybe even another Ohio State tie. Predicting ties is boring, though, so I’ll go with a Buckeyes sweep.
Paula: Well, the Buckeyes and Huskies did skate to a tie last season in Columbus the night after their first-ever meeting, a 7-4 Ohio State win. The Buckeyes are 4-1-0 on the road. I like those odds. Friday’s game begins at 7:05 p.m., Saturday’s at 3:05 p.m. and neither is televised.
Drew’s picks: Ohio State 3-2, 4-2.
Paula’s picks: Ohio State 4-2, 4-2.
You can follow both Drew (@drewclaussen) and me (@paulacweston) on Twitter. Friday, I’ll be in Yost Ice Arena for Minnesota-Michigan and Saturday I’ll be in Munn Ice Arena for Wisconsin-Michigan State.