The first round of the Big Ten Tournament is in the books and, even though there were plenty fireworks along the way, all three series ended with the home team sweeping. Here’s how things played out:
- Ohio State swept Michigan State
- Penn State swept Minnesota
- Michigan swept Wisconsin
And here are my three thoughts from the weekend that was:
1. You get a goal, and you get a goal, and you get a goal
I hope everyone read that in a Oprah voice in their heads. Nobody seemed to have any trouble lighting the lamp this weekend.
The six teams in action this weekend scored 56 combined goals. I’ve never claimed to be good at math, but I think that breaks down to an average of 9.33 goals per contest.
When I talked to Ohio State head coach Steve Rohlik after the Buckeyes’ series at Minnesota a couple weeks ago where they only scored two goals on the weekend, he predicted that there would be more low-scoring games as the regular season wrapped up and the postseason started. That notion was tossed out the window this weekend.
It’ll be interesting to see what type of games we get next weekend with Notre Dame jumping back into action.
2. Minnesota needs to figure some things out
Even with the debacle that was the last two weekends in Happy Valley, Minnesota still has a very good chance to make the NCAA Tournament.
The Gophers are 13th in the PairWise and will have had three weeks off if they do make the tournament. Minnesota lost 5-3 to Penn State on Friday and 6-5 on Saturday. It was the Gophers fourth loss in a row, all to Penn State on the road. Minnesota increased its goal scoring this weekend, but it was not able to tame Penn State’s offense.
The good news for Minnesota is that it cannot face Penn State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. For now the Gophers just have to pray for no upsets in the rest of the conference tournaments and maybe add a few more defensive drills to their practice routine.
3. Looking forward to next weekend
Penn State travels to Notre Dame and Ohio State hosting Michigan are the two one-game semifinals next weekend. Both games should be pretty interesting.
Penn State has scored 21 goals over the last four games against Minnesota, but Notre Dame and goaltender Cale Morris should provide a tougher test for the Nittany Lions this weekend. The Irish went 3-0-1 against the Nittany Lions this season.
On the flip side the Wolverines get another shot at Ohio State, who won all four contests the two teams played this season. The Buckeyes are also being forced out of their building and into Nationwide Arena, which could make the contest feel more like a neutral-site game and provide Michigan somewhat of a boost.
It’ll also be interesting to see how Notre Dame plays after the weekend off. Rest is always good for players to heal any ailments, but it also can throw a team off of its routine and Notre Dame doesn’t have the luxury of a three-game series to ease itself back into action.