Pickin’ the Big Ten: Feb. 14-17

 (Tim Brule)Happy Valentine’s Day!

If the lovefest that we know as the college hockey season were to end today, only two Big Ten teams would be invited to the big dance. Penn State sits at No. 8 in the PairWise Rankings, Ohio State at No. 15, and Michigan State and Minnesota are knocking on the door tied at No. 19. Before we take a look at this week’s pairings, here’s how Drew and I are doing with our picks this season. (Hint: I am the human definition of a bubble team.)

Last week
Drew: 3-2-1 (.583)
Paula: 4-1-1 (.750)

This season
Drew: 76-46-11 (.613)
Paula: 65-57-11 (.530)

This week

Everyone but Ohio State plays this week and the schedule features a real Valentine for fans in Michigan — a game between the Spartans and Wolverines at Little Caesars Arena Monday night. All times are local.

Michigan vs. Michigan State
Friday at 6:00 p.m. at Munn Ice Arena, Monday at 7:00 p.m. at Little Caesars Arena

The Wolverines are the hottest team in the Big Ten right now, having gone 6-1-1 since the midseason break, capturing all but four available B1G points and remaining in the mix for first-round playoff home ice. Last weekend, Michigan swept visiting Wisconsin. Michigan State has split every weekend since the midseason break, most recently at Minnesota. The Spartans swept the Wolverines in a home-and-home series last November. This annual tradition — what used to be called a home-and-Joe for obvious reasons — is now the Duel in the D and comes with hardware that currently resides in Ann Arbor and Michigan leads games in this series played in Detroit 33-22-7 all-time.

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

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

Minnesota is the second-hottest team in the Big Ten entering this weekend, having gone 6-2-0 since the midseason break, climbing up to No. 19 in the PWR and a three-way tie for second place in the conference standings, two points behind Penn State. Last weekend, the Golden Gophers split at home against Michigan State, while Notre Dame took five of six possible points on the road from Penn State. It was the best weekend that the Fighting Irish have had in conference play since sweeping Ohio State in early November. The Irish are 2-4-2-2 in B1G play since midseason and in spite of their uneven and underachieving season, they’re still just five points out of first place. When these teams met in Minnesota in November, the first game was a tie with the Gophers taking the extra point and Notre Dame won the second game.

Drew: Minnesota 3-2, Notre Dame 3-2
Paula: Minnesota 3-2, Notre Dame 2-1

No. 9 Penn State at Wisconsin
Friday and Saturday, 7:00 p.m. each night

With just four regular-season games remaining — two fewer than both Michigan State and Minnesota, teams tied for second place and a single point behind — the Nittany Lions have to make the most of this weekend at Wisconsin. Penn State is 2-3-3-0 in conference play since the midseason break, having picked up just one point at home last weekend against Notre Dame and no extra points in any of the three second-half ties. Wisconsin can climb out of last place in the conference before the season ends but is unlikely to; it’s not that the Badgers can’t do so, but they’d need a lot of help from teams ahead of them in a combination of ways. Wisconsin is looking to halt a five-game losing streak, having dropped two on the road to Michigan last weekend. The Nittany Lions swept the Badgers earlier this season (Oct. 31-Nov. 1), outscoring Wisconsin 10-3 in that series.

Drew: Penn State 6-4, 5-3
Paula: Penn State 4-2, 5-2

All the tweets

Follow Drew (@drewclaussen) and me (@paulacweston) on Twitter. In addition to Drew’s hockey insights, you’ll get to see photos of his adorably baby girl, Bella. I continue to be a living, breathing stereotype, posting cat photos for you to enjoy. My hockey discussions are goodish.