Pickin’ the Big Ten: Nov. 19-24

Wisconsin will try to continue its winning ways this weekend at home (photo: Tealin Robinson/Wisconsin Athletics).

We’re back!

Alright, I guess Paula posted last week’s picks. So, I’m back!

The Big Ten got the college hockey season underway last weekend and there’s a packed slate of games on tap for this weekend, even though none of them are actually on Saturday or Sunday. Any other season I would have probably rolled my eyes at a 3 p.m. puck drop on a Friday. This year, bring it on. It’s a perfect excuse to take off Thursday through Tuesday and then transition right into Thanksgiving break. Tell your bosses I said it was OK.

Also, be sure the read our Big Ten Preview. Yes, the season has already started but it’s still worth your time in my unbiased opinion.

Before we move on, let’s talk about our spectacular picking effort from last weekend where both of us predicted that Michigan would give up five goals in a game and Strauss Mann gave up one in the entire series. Whoopsies.

Last week
Drew: 2-2-0 (.500)
Paula: 1-3-0 (.250)

This season
Drew: 2-2-0 (.500)
Paula: 1-3-0 (.250)

This Week

New week, new opportunities. All times are local.

No. 10 Penn State at No. 11 Minnesota
Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 3:00 p.m.

The poll voters are giving Penn State quite a bit of credit considering the amount of players missing from last year’s team, but the Nittany Lions deserve a shot to show what they’re made of. Regardless of the players on the roster, you know Penn State is going to get its shots and chances to get goals. Having only eight college games played combined by your three goaltenders isn’t ideal, although Oskar Autio did play well in limited minutes last season.

Minnesota is my conference champion pick. Make of that what you will, Gophers fans, I’ve been the kiss of death for past teams. The retuning players are solid, the incoming freshmen have potential and won’t be thrust into key roles. If Jack LaFontaine can pick up playing like he did when the season met its unfortunate end in March, the Gophers are in a good spot. They also have the luxury of playing their first four at home, though that’ll even out later on.

Drew: Minnesota 5-3, 4-2
Paula: Minnesota 4-2, 4-2

No. 6 Michigan at No. 14 Wisconsin
Thursday and Friday at 6:00 p.m.

The two darlings of the first week instantly get a chance to battle it out. No disrespect to Wisconsin, who after the struggles of the last couple season definitely welcomed that road sweep with open arms, but it was Michigan’s sweep that caught my attention. It’s hard to post an 8-1 win and not drum up some excitement. This one should be fun to watch. I don’t think Wisconsin will be able to grind out a win like it did last weekend against Notre Dame and it’s hard to pick against Michigan right now.

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

Arizona State at Michigan State
Thursday and Friday at 6:00 p.m.

Arizona State, the designated nonconference road team, gets a chance to put last weekend in the rearview mirror when it plays the other Big Ten team in Michigan. It looks like ASU will be without Johnny Walker this weekend, which is a break for Michigan State. The Spartans will have to replace quite a few players from last year’s team, including leading-scorer Patrick Khodorenko and goaltender John Lethemon, so it’ll be interesting to see who picks up the torch for MSU.

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

No. 9 Ohio State at No. 11 Minnesota
Monday and Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.

After watching their friends have all the fun, the Buckeyes finally get to hit the ice on Monday. Ohio State may not have a player like Tanner Laczynski or Mason Jobst this season, but the cupboard isn’t bare. Having Tommy Nappier back in net will help, too.

Drew: Ohio State 3-2, Minnesota 5-2
Paula: Minnesota 4-2, 3-2

No. 10 Penn State at No. 14 Wisconsin
Monday and Tuesday at 5:00 p.m.

As you can probably see, my snippets have been getting progressively shorter. It’ll be interesting to see how Penn State handles playing the first road trip of the season, being in Minneapolis Thursday and Friday and Madison Monday and Tuesday. Not something that college teams do very often.

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

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