Pickin’ the Big Ten title game: March 17

It all comes down to this. Here’s how Drew Claussen and I have done with picks so far:

Last week

Drew: 3-1 (.750)
Paula: 4-0 (1.000)

This season

Drew: 100-54-14 (.637)
Paula: 103-51-14 (.658)

The championship game

No. 3 Notre Dame (24-9-2), the top overall seed in the Big Ten tournament, hosts No. 5 Ohio State (24-8-5), the second overall seed in the tournament. In single-elimination semifinal action last weekend, the Fighting Irish beat No. 13 Penn State, 3-2, with Jack Jenkins’ goal in the last minute of regulation securing the win. Matthew Weis scored within the first minute of overtime to give the Buckeyes their 3-2 semifinal win over No. 11 Michigan.

Notre Dame went 3-1-0 against Ohio State in the regular season, but the Buckeyes won the last meeting 5-1 in South Bend. The Buckeyes lead this all-time series 36-35-10, but the Irish lead in South Bend 18-14-4.

Ohio State has the fourth-best defense nationally (2.08) while Notre Dame is 11th (2.17). Ohio State’s offense is 11th (3.22) while Notre Dame is 26th (2.94). OSU has the best penalty kill nationally (89.9) followed immediately by the Irish (88.5). The Buckeyes have the seventh-best power play in the country (24.3). The Irish are 17th (21.8).

The game begins at 8:00 p.m. Saturday in the Compton Family Ice Arena and is televised by the Big Ten Network.

Drew’s pick: I’ll take Notre Dame 3-2 solely because of home-ice advantage.

Paula’s pick: The same. The statistical differences between the teams are negligible. Ohio State has an offensive advantage and the Irish have home ice. My call is 2-1 Notre Dame.

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