Last week was a good week for your Big Ten writers. Here’s how Drew Claussen and I are doing:
Drew: 5-1-2 (.750)
Paula: 6-0-2 (.875)
Drew: 32-26-6 (.547)
Paula: 41-17-6 (.688)
I think we’ll take it.
We have one B1G series, four nonconference series, and Ohio State has a bye. All times are local.
No. 17 Michigan at No. 9 Wisconsin
Drew: Michigan showed last weekend that it has the potential to defeat, or at least hang with, any team in the conference. The Wolverines are a mediocre 2-2 on the road this season. Whether that will be a hindrance this weekend is to be determined; however, since the Badgers are a pedestrian 3-3 at home. I’ll go with a split to keep both of those records even.
Paula: The Badgers have played the Wolverines more time than any other team in their history except for Minnesota, and as is often typical of long-standing rivals, the teams do not agree on how many times they’ve met. According to Wisconsin, these teams will be facing off for the 142nd and 143rd times; according to the Wolverines, they’ve already met 144 times, with Michigan holding a 72-57-15 lead in this series. Last season, Wisconsin went 3-1-0 against Michigan, including 5-2 and 6-4 wins in the Kohl Center in February. I can’t argue with the split, but I’m calling it the other way — which means it’s sure to bite me. Games begin at 7:07 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and Saturday’s game is televised by Fox Sports West Plus.
Drew’s picks: Wisconsin 4-1, Michigan 4-3.
Paula’s picks: Michigan 4-3, Wisconsin 4-3.
Ferris State vs. Michigan State
Drew: If John Lethemon can replicate his performance from last Saturday against Wisconsin, Michigan State will be in a good place this weekend. The only area I’ve had success picking games this year has been predicting teams to win their home games in a home-and-home series, so I’ll go back to that here.
Paula: With the exception of Notre Dame’s games against Michigan and Michigan State and remaining games against Ohio State — plus Bowling Green’s appearance in the Great Lakes Invitational Tournament — this is the last of the old-school CCHA matches of the season, and I’m going to savor Friday’s game at least. These long-time rivals agree on their records; Michigan State leads this series 71-37-15. The teams split a home-and-home series last season, each winning on the road. Michigan State has won three of its last four contests against the Bulldogs, but Ferris State is 7-3-0 in the last 10 meetings. I think each wins in its own barn this year for a change. Friday’s game in East Lansing begins at 7:05 p.m. Saturday’s game in Big Rapids starts at 7:07 p.m. Neither game is televised. Sadly.
Drew’s picks: Michigan State 3-1, Ferris State 4-1.
Paula’s picks: Michigan State 3-2, Ferris State 3-2.
No. 13 Harvard at No. 13 Minnesota
Drew: I don’t really know how Harvard has managed to keep a top-20 ranking all season despite starting the season 2-3, but it could win back some of the naysayers with a couple strong performances this weekend at Minnesota. The Gophers fell back to earth after consecutive home sweeps when they blew consecutive multi-goal leads against Michigan last weekend. My key to this series is Eric Schierhorn. He has played very well this season but has also had games where he has looked very shaky. The Gophers really don’t have a reliable backup plan in goal, so for Minnesota to find success this season they are going to have to lean on Schierhorn.
Paula: I saw Friday’s 5-4 Minnesota loss to Michigan last weekend, and there were some very pretty goals against for which Schierhorn didn’t have much of a chance, and three of those came from turnovers committed by forwards. I also know that Schierhorn could have had a better game Saturday. That having been said, the Golden Gophers scored 10 goals against the Wolverines, and as Don Lucia mused Friday night, four goals should be enough to win. Minnesota leads this all-time series 22-7-0, but the only meeting in the last five seasons was last year’s 4-3 overtime win by the Crimson in the title game of the Mariucci Classic. Don’t think for a second that the Gophers have forgotten that. Games are Friday and Saturday at 7:07 p.m. and televised by Fox Sports North Plus.
Drew’s picks: Minnesota 4-2, Harvard 4-3.
Paula’s picks: Minnesota 4-3, 4-3.
No. 4 Notre Dame at Rensselaer
Drew: I can’t find any reason to pick against Notre Dame right now. The Irish have shown that they are capable of finding a way to win during their five-game win streak. If they can keep it going this weekend it will make the next series against Minnesota even more intriguing.
Paula: This all-time series is tied 4-4-0, with the most recent game a 3-2 win by the Engineers when the Fighting Irish hosted the 2014 IceBreaker Tournament. RPI is 2-5-3 this season, having defeated No. 16 Quinnipiac before losing to Princeton last weekend, both home games. I don’t see a reason to pick against the Irish, either, especially the way that Cale Morris is playing. Games are Friday and Saturday at 7:00 p.m. Neither is televised.
Drew’s picks: Notre Dame 4-1, 3-0.
Paula’s picks: Notre Dame 3-2, 3-2.
Penn State at Arizona State
Drew: Arizona State picked up a split last time out against Alabama-Huntsville and has ties against Omaha and Colgate this season. Four of the Sun Devils’ six losses have been by two goals or less, so there’s the potential for Penn State to run into some trouble this weekend considering what kind of form the Nittany Lions are in right now. That being said, I’m picking a Penn State sweep.
Paula: I don’t know about this series. While the Nittany Lions swept the Sun Devils in Pegula Arena last season, outscoring Arizona State by a collective 15-4, Penn State is inconsistent and feeling the effects of the injury bug right now. Not only is defenseman Kevin Kerr day-to-day, but star forward Denis Smirnov is out with an “undisclosed illness” for the time being. Arizona State sophomore Joey Daccord has a .919 save percentage, so if he’s solid this weekend, the Sun Devils may very well take a game, no matter how many shots the Nittany Lions put on goal. Additionally, Arizona State is playing fair at home and Penn State is not faring well on the road. I’m calling a split. Games begin at 7:05 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and neither is televised.
Drew’s picks: Penn State 6-3, 5-3.
Paula’s picks: Arizona State 3-2, Penn State 4-2.
The last of the CCHA tweeting for the season!
Follow Drew (@drewclaussen) and me (@paulacweston) on Twitter, please. I’ll be in Munn Ice Arena Friday night for the Bulldogs and Spartans, a game I couldn’t be anticipating with more pleasure. Shout at me, and I’ll shout back.