Pickin’ the Big Ten: Feb. 28-29

17 MAR 2018: Cale Morris (ND - 32). The University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish host the Ohio State University in the 2018 B1G Championship at Compton Family Ice Arena in South Bend, IN.  (Rachel Lewis - USCHO) (Rachel Lewis/©Rachel Lewis)

It all comes down to this weekend for B1G Hockey. Spoiler alert: Drew Claussen’s picks have Ohio State winning the regular-season title, and I have Minnesota on top. Given my picks record this season, I think that’s good news for either Ohio State or Penn State.

Last week
Drew: 1-4-1 (.250)
Paula: 2-3-1 (.417)

This season
Drew: 79-53-13 (.590)
Paula: 69-63-13 (.521)

This Week

Everyone plays except for first-place Penn State. With 41 points, the Nittany Lions can hold on to the regular-season championship if neither Ohio State nor Minnesota earns a sweep this weekend. Penn State has the tiebreaker on both the Buckeyes and Golden Gophers in the very-likely-to-happen-because-it’s-the-Big-Ten scenario that there’s a three-way tie at the top by the end of the weekend.

Should the Buckeyes and Gophers both sweep, each will have 43 points and Ohio State will have the tie breaker. It is a little surprising that only Ohio State is in control of its own destiny right now, given how the story of the last few weeks has unfolded. The Buckeyes have the best home record in B1G Hockey and I understand why Drew has picked them to sweep. In the somewhat-likely-to-happen-because-it’s-the-Big-Ten scenario, though, I can see the team with the worst road record — Wisconsin — playing spoiler, too.

Watch Penn State emerge from the weekend with the regular-season title, grateful that one of the Nittany Lions’ several uncharacteristic shutout losses this year didn’t sink them.

It should be quite a weekend. Times are local.

Michigan at No. 18 Minnesota
Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 5:00 p.m.

The Wolverines and the Golden Gophers were the hottest teams in the league going into last weekend, and each was victimized by an opponent’s end-of-season hunger. Michigan was swept at home by Notre Dame, outscored 5-1 in two contests, snapping a four-game win streak. Minnesota came away from Penn State with one point, as the Nittany Lions did all they could to remain in first place heading into a bye weekend. In early November, Minnesota took five points from Michigan on the road. Either of these teams could, theoretically, sweep this weekend, and Drew’s pick of a split is solid. I’m going with Minnesota’s speed.

Drew: Minnesota 3-2, Michigan 3-2
Paula: Minnesota 3-2, 3-2

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

The Spartans enter the weekend looking for a sweep to vault them into first-round, home-ice territory after dropping their last four contests, most recently at home against Ohio State, a series in which they were shut out once and outscored 5-2. Notre Dame is also looking to host a first-round playoff contest and the Irish can finish the season as high as second place if both the Buckeyes and Gophers earn no points this weekend. Last weekend, Notre Dame swept Michigan on the road. In late November, the Fighting Irish earned two points on the road against the Spartans.

Drew: Michigan State 3-1, Notre Dame 3-2
Paula: Michigan State 2-1, Notre Dame 2-1

Wisconsin at No. 10 Ohio State
Friday at 6:00 p.m., Saturday at 8:00 p.m.

Each of these teams won two games last weekend. Wisconsin hosted Arizona State and scored 13 goals in two wins — but allowed eight, winning a crazy Friday night contest 7-6, a game in which Roman Ahcan had the winning goal at 18:51 in the third. Last weekend, Ohio State swept Michigan State on the road. The teams split in early January in Madison, a 4-2 win for the Buckeyes and a 5-2 win for Wisconsin. The Badgers are 4-6-0 in their last 10; the Buckeyes are 4-4-2 in their last 10.

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

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