Pickin’ the Big Ten: Feb. 12-13

The Wolverines return to action this weekend against Wisconsin. Junior defenseman Nick Blankenburg has four assists in his last four games. (photo: Michigan Photography).

COVID continues to disrupt the Big Ten schedule, with Penn State the latest program to pause. The series between the Buckeyes and the Nittany Lions slated for this weekend has been postponed, and a scheduled series between Arizona State and Penn State scheduled for Feb. 20-21 has been cancelled outright. There is a month left in the regular season.

Our picks so far:

Last week
Drew: 3-1-0 (.750)
Paula: 2-2-0 (.500)

This season
Drew: 50-24-2 (.671)
Paula: 42-32-2 (.566)

This week

There are two conference series and a set featuring Arizona State, which returns to playing B1G opponents for the first time since Jan. 22. All times are local.

No. 5 Minnesota at Notre Dame
7:30 p.m. Friday, 5:30 p.m. Saturday

It’s been about a month since the Fighting Irish traveled to Minneapolis to sweep the Golden Gophers, and Drew and I are in agreement that Minnesota will deliver a little payback this weekend. Last week, the Gophers lost twice at home to Wisconsin, outscored 12-2 in those games. Meanwhile, Notre Dame took it to Ohio State literally and figuratively, beating the Buckeyes 6-1 and 8-1 in Columbus. There are six points separating second-place Minnesota from third-place Notre Dame in the Big Ten standings at the start of the weekend.

Drew: Minnesota 4-3, Notre Dame 3-2
Paula: Minnesota 3-2, Notre Dame 3-2

No. 7 Wisconsin at No. 8 Michigan
2:00 p.m. Saturday, 5:00 p.m. Sunday

The Badgers are the newly minted No. 1 Big Ten team after their impressive sweep of the Gophers last weekend, and their reward is to play a talented young team coming off a nearly three-week game hiatus because of COVID. The Wolverines do ride a four-game win streak into this weekend, having last swept Notre Dame Jan. 21-22 and outscoring the Irish 8-2 in the process. The Wolverines weren’t allowed to practice or condition at all during their pause, as the forced COVID shutdown at U-M applied to every aspect of the athletic department. Michigan swept Wisconsin Nov. 19-20 — but that was so long ago, in so many ways. The Wolverines are nine points out of first place and four points behind third-place Notre Dame. The Badgers are a point ahead of Minnesota.

Drew: Wisconsin 6-3, Michigan 5-4
Paula: Wisconsin 4-2, 4-2

Arizona State at Michigan State
3:00 p.m. Sunday, 5:00 p.m. Monday

Last weekend, Arizona State split a home exhibition series against the U.S. Under-18 team, losing 6-3 and winning 2-1. That followed two weekends of play against B1G opponents in which the Sun Devils were outscored 29-4. Michigan State last played Jan. 29-30, two road losses to Wisconsin in which the the Spartans were outscored 10-1. These teams last met Nov. 19-20, a 1-1 tie and 2-0 Michigan State win. The Spartans were scheduled to play a single game against the Wolverines earlier this week but, you know, COVID.

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

Happy Valentine’s Day, Twitter fools!

You can follow Drew (@drewclaussen) and me (@paulacweston) on Twitter and at least one of us will wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day. (Hint: It’s me. I love this stupid holiday.)

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