Pickin’ the Big Ten semifinals: March 10

Drew Claussen and I didn’t do so badly last weekend. There were six games played, but we both predicted seven games would be played.

Last week

Drew: 5-2-0 (.714)
Paula: 5-2-0 (.714)

This season

Drew: 97-53-14 (.634)
Paula: 99-51-14 (.646)

The semifinals

The top seeds survived last weekend’s best-of-three series, with each team sweeping its opponent at home. This week, the highest seeds in the field of four each hosts a single-elimination semifinal game Saturday. Both games are televised but by different channels. Teams are identified by seeding. Records listed are overall. Times are local.

No. 4 Penn State (18-13-5) at No. 1 Notre Dame (23-9-2)

Drew: It’ll be interesting to see how Notre Dame performs in the playoffs after its weekend off. As I wrote in the column this week, the Irish pretty much stumbled across the finish line after clinching the regular-season title. A loss this weekend would mean that Notre Dame would only have played one game in the four weeks between the end of the regular season and the NCAA Tournament, which wouldn’t be ideal. Penn State, on the other hand, has been burning out the goal lights the past two weekends, but the Irish don’t have the goaltending issues and defensive-lapses that Minnesota does. I’ll take Notre Dame to cool down Penn State’s offense.

Paula: With all due respect to Penn State, the Fighting Irish are in control of their own fate here. One of two things will happen: either Notre Dame will struggle after its bye week or the Irish will have learned from their late-season mistakes and will come into this fresh as well as ready for a very tough opponent. Notre Dame is 4-5-1 in its last nine games. The Nittany Lions are 5-3-2 in their last 10, riding a five-game win streak into South Bend. Notre Dame is 3-0-1 against Penn State this season. I am feeling an upset, but the Golden Gophers outshot the Nittany Lions in Pegula Arena last weekend and I think that’s telling. This game starts at 5:30 p.m. and is carried by ESPNU.

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

No. 3 Michigan (20-13-3) at No. 2 Ohio State (23-8-4)

Drew: My thought going into this weekend was that playing at Nationwide Arena could be a negative for the Buckeyes, but they’re actually 8-2-3 all-time in games played at their home away from home in their hometown. Both of these teams had a tough test in the first round, but both ended up sweeping their opponent. Michigan is looking to avoid going 0-5 against Ohio State this season. I think we’re going to see a close game that may even go to overtime.

Paula: I respectfully disagree with Drew about the first round. The Wolverines and Buckeyes each had one close game against their opponents, but Michigan outscored Wisconsin in each period during the 7-4 deciding game, and Ohio State overwhelmed Michigan State in the 6-2 first game of that series. I do agree with Drew, though, that playing at Nationwide Arena will be a factor in this game, in spite of Ohio State’s record there. This game starts at 7:30 p.m. and is carried by the Big Ten Network.

Drew’s pick: Michigan 3-2.
Paula’s pick: Ohio State 5-4.

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Follow Drew (@drewclaussen) and me (@paulacweston) on Twitter. I’ll be tweeting during the games, probably wondering why my picks have gone so horribly wrong and scaring the dog. Again.