Pickin’ the Big Ten: Dec. 7-9

This is the last weekend of games that count before a break and the midseason tournaments. Here’s how Drew Claussen and I are shaping up so far.

Last week

Drew: 4-1-1 (.750)
Paula: 2-3-1 (.417)

This season

Drew: 47-32-9 (.585)
Paula: 53-26-9 (.653)

Ugh! My first sub-.500 week this season. I was bitten by that wrong-way split in Minnesota.

This week

Everyone plays this week, with three B1G and one nonconference series. All times are local.

Michigan State vs. Michigan

Drew: Both of these teams have had a down couple of weeks after fairly solid starts to the season. With the in-state rivalry factor in play, I expect two close games this weekend. Michigan State gave a good effort against Notre Dame last weekend, but it wasn’t good enough to steal a win from the Irish. It’s hard to be overly disappointed with that, considering that the Irish seem to be able to find a way to win everything as of late. I’ll take each team winning their home game.

Paula: According to the Spartans, Michigan and Michigan State have met on the ice 314 times. According to the Wolverines, it’s 306 times. Such is the nature of the relationship between these two teams. We do know that the Spartans were 2-1-2 versus the Wolverines last season. Michigan State won twice at Yost Ice Arena, the teams tied both times they met at Munn, and the only Michigan win came at Joe Louis Arena at the Great Lakes Invitational Tournament. I like Drew’s logic about a split. Thursday’s game begins at 7:35 p.m. in Ann Arbor, Friday’s starts at 7:05 p.m. in East Lansing, and neither game is televised.

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

No. 7 Minnesota at No. 15 Ohio State

Drew: The Gophers own a huge advantage in the historical series between these two teams, but lately it’s been a lot closer. Minnesota and Ohio State split both of their regular-season series last season. The Gophers are coming off of a home split with Wisconsin and the Buckeyes are trying to put a disappointing home series with Penn State in the rear-view mirror. I’ll take a split.

Paula: The Buckeyes are 1-3-3 at home this season; the Golden Gophers are 1-5-1 on the road. The games the teams split last season were high-scoring affairs, with each team totaling 18 goals in four meetings. I know a split is logical, but I’m not in a logical mood. Friday’s game begins at 6:35 p.m., Saturday’s at 8:05 p.m., and both are carried by the Big Ten Network.

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

No. 4 Notre Dame at No. 12 Wisconsin

Drew: I said last week that there’s no reason to pick against the Irish and they proved me right. This week, I’m going to pick against the Irish. I think Wisconsin is slightly better than what its 10-7-2 record may indicate. I’ll take the Badgers to win on Friday and Notre Dame to rebound from its first loss in a long time on Saturday.

Paula: These are the first meetings between the Fighting Irish and the Badgers since Oct. 12, 2007, and the first time that Notre Dame has played in Madison since 2004. I don’t see any reason to pick against the Irish. Yet. If you’re interested, the Badgers are hosting an outdoor skate at the Edgewater Ice Skating Rink from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Sunday, weather permitting. Friday’s game begins at 8:07 p.m. and is televised by the Big Ten Network. Saturday’s 7:07 p.m. start is televised by Fox Sports West Plus.

Drew’s picks: Wisconsin 3-2, Notre Dame 3-1.
Paula’s picks: Notre Dame 3-2, 3-2.

No. 18 Penn State vs. Robert Morris

Drew: The Nittany Lions have been a hard team to peg this season. When they’re hot, they’re hot and when they’re cold, they’re cold. Peyton Jones played well last Saturday against Ohio State and Penn State should be feeling good after taking five conference points on the road. If Penn State can win Friday in Pittsburgh I think it’ll complete the sweep on Saturday.

Paula: Robert Morris leads this all-time series 4-2-0, and Saturday’s game is the first trip to Pegula Arena for the Colonials. These teams last met Dec. 28, 2015, a 6-4 Robert Morris win in the Three Rivers Classic. Last weekend, RMU dropped two road games to Bentley. Friday’s game starts at 7:05 p.m. in PPG Paints Arena, home of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Saturday’s game begins at 7:00 p.m. in Pegula Ice Arena. Neither game is televised.

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

Twitter this weekend

I’ll be covering the Friday night Michigan-Michigan State game from Munn Ice Arena. If you shout at me (@paulacweston), I promise to shout back nicely.