Pickin’ the Big Ten: Dec. 11-13

Sophomore Kevin Wall leads Penn State in scoring. (photo: Craig Houtz).

There are eight games remaining in this condensed first half of B1G Hockey, including the four scheduled for this week. Given my 0-for performance of a week ago, I am grateful that my picks are creeping up toward .500.

Last week
Drew: 7-3-0 (.700)
Paula: 5-5-0 (.500)

This season
Drew: 19-10-1 (.650)
Paula: 13-16-1 (.455)

After a perfect first-half performance, Minnesota will take first place and 24 points into January, as no one behind them can catch up with what remains to be played before the break. Ohio State or Notre Dame — or both — will move ahead of third-place Michigan with this weekend’s series. The Buckeyes and the Fighting Irish are a point apart from each other, too. All times here are local.

No. 14 Ohio State at No. 15 Notre Dame
7:00 p.m. Saturday, 5:00 p.m. Sunday

In their most recent play, both the Buckeyes and the Irish split a pair of games, Ohio State against Wisconsin and Notre Dame against Arizona State. Last season, Notre Dame swept Ohio State in South Bend and the Irish were 2-1-1 overall versus the Buckeyes in 2019-21. After being swept by Wisconsin to start their season, the Irish are 3-1-0 in their last four games and look mighty improved. Much depends on the consistency of team defense in this series, and although Drew’s calling a split and I’m saying Notre Dame will sweep, the Buckeyes could pick up two as well.

Drew: Notre Dame 4-2, Ohio State 3-2
Paula: Notre Dame 4-2, 3-1

No. 20 Arizona State at Penn State
6:00 p.m. Friday, 2:00 p.m. Sunday

Last weekend, Arizona State split with Notre Dame, scoring eight goals in two games. Penn State, meanwhile, picked up its first win of the season by outscoring Michigan 9-5 in a single road contest after having dropped a 3-1 decision the night before. Each of these teams is capable of explosive offense, and the Sun Devils and Nittany Lions play very similar up-and-down-the-ice styles of hockey, with some serious physicality thrown in. Penalties? Probably, and more than a few. These should be fun to watch.

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

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