Pickin’ the Big Ten: Jan. 24-25

I’m back! Did everyone miss me? Did anyone notice I was gone? I would like to once again publicly thank Paula for handling the hockey writing over the past couple days as my wife Sophie and I welcomed our daughter Isabella to the world. That little girl has already watched an impressive amount of hockey for being less than two weeks old. I did, however, manage to send in my picks last week. Let’s see how those panned out.

Last week
Drew: 3-1-2 (.667)
Paula: 2-2-2 (.500)

This season
Drew: 68-38-9 (.630)
Paula: 58-48-9 (.544)

This week

Three more conference series will give us another opportunity to ride the conference standings roller coaster this weekend. Michigan plays an exhibition game on Saturday. All times are local.

No. 9 Penn State at No. 19 Michigan State
Friday at 7:00 p.m., Saturday at 6:00 p.m.

After splitting on the road against Wisconsin, the Spartans get another opportunity to prove their legitimacy this weekend when they host Penn State. A motivated Nittany Lions team should be rolling into town, too, as Penn State was only able to muster one conference point at home last weekend against Michigan. Both of these teams have 25 conference points, one less than Ohio State.

Drew: Penn State 4-2, Michigan State 3-1
Paula: Penn State 3-2, Michigan State 3-2

Wisconsin at Notre Dame
Friday at 7:00 p.m., Saturday at 6:00 p.m.

I for one didn’t see both of these teams being unranked at this point in the season. Regardless, a good weekend by either team could help vault it up the topsy-turvy standings. With an automatic bid looking like the likely way into the NCAA Tournament for both squads, it’s never too early to start looking at potential Big Ten Tournament seeds and matchups. These two teams split their series in Madison in mid-November with Wisconsin winning 3-0 on Friday and Notre Dame grabbing an overtime win on Saturday.

Also, Paula wrote about the Irish in this week’s column.

Drew: Wisconsin 4-2, Notre Dame 2-1
Paula: Notre Dame 3-2, Wisconsin 4-2

No. 6 Ohio State at Minnesota
Friday at 7:00 p.m., Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

After hosting an exhibition game last Friday, the Gophers jump back into conference play this weekend when Ohio State comes to town. Minnesota split last time out at Michigan State, losing 4-1 on Friday but rebounding with a nice 2-0 victory on Saturday. On the other side Ohio State hasn’t exactly set the world on fire during the start to the second half of the season, but Steve Rohlik’s squad seems as consistent as ever and rightfully sits atop the Big Ten standings.

Drew: Minnesota 3-2, Ohio State 4-1
Paula: Ohio State 3-2, 3-2


Follow me (@drewclaussen) and Paula (@paulacweston) on Twitter. I think Paula will be at Munn sometime this weekend. If I can manage to stay awake, you might get some sleep-deprived takes from me.