Around the Big Ten: Hockey
Nate Pullen, Matt McClure and Christopher Hess break down this week's slate of Big Ten Hockey action:
If it made sense, it wouldn't be Big Ten hockey.
Ohio State would surely defeat Minnesota following their embarrassing performance in Hockey Valley. The exact opposite happened, as Minnesota traveled to Columbus and swept the Buckeyes.
Michigan State on paper was no match against a red hot Penn State team. They weren’t getting consistent offense from anyone besides Taro Hirose. This was until they scored three goals on just 10 shots en route to a split with the Nittany Lions.
Wisconsin’s offense and special teams were not only the worst in the Big Ten, but also ranked bottom 10 in the entire nation. In addition, they were missing their best player, K’Andre Miller, due to injury. Sure enough they pull of the upset on the road and split with Notre Dame.
With three more crucial series this weekend, anything could happen. These Big Ten teams continue to beat up on each other, and the lack of separation has hurt all but Ohio State in the PairWise Ranking.
Ohio State at Michigan
It’s rivalry week in Ann Arbor, Michigan, as Ohio State will travel to Michigan to take on the Wolverines. Michigan is coming off a bye week with the potential to gain ground in the Big Ten standings. In order to maintain home ice advantage in the Big Ten tournament, they must split with the Buckeyes this weekend.
Fortunately, the Wolverines caught the Buckeyes at the perfect time. Ohio State is coming off their first winless weekend of the season. This is the second meeting of the season between these two rivals, the first ending in a split.
Notre Dame at Minnesota
After the trip to Penn State, the season of the Minnesota Golden Gophers was in grave danger. Their chance to make the NCAA tournament was dwindling and the hardcore fan base of Minnesota was calling for the firing of head coach Bob Motzko.
This negativity ceased when the Gophers went into Columbus and shocked the Big Ten by sweeping top-ranked Ohio State. Magically, Minnesota now controls its own destiny for home ice advantage through the tournament. They currently sit at 22 in the PairWise Ranking.
In contrast, Notre Dame is coming off a disappointing split to Wisconsin and needs a successful weekend to jump Minnesota in the standings. The Fighting Irish are sitting at 17 in the PairWise Ranking, a significant drop from last season’s national championship run. With just two weeks remaining and a difficult schedule ahead, it is a real possibility the Fighting Irish will miss the tournament for the first time in three seasons.
This matchup will serve as a preview to what is to come in the Big Ten tournament. This might not be the last time they meet.
Wisconsin at Penn State
The Badgers have been underperforming offensively all season. With Miller being out, Wisconsin's top scorer is now Seamus Malone with 20 points in 30 games. To put that in perspective, the Nittany Lions have eight skaters with more than 20 points in the same amount of games.
Despite that, this same Wisconsin team split with the Nittany Lion in their first meeting, including a game ending 8-5 in favor of the Badgers. That game will most likely go down as the Nittany Lions worst loss of the season.
Take these predictions with a grain of salt. If you can learn anything from last weekend, the outcome of these weekend series is far from predictable.
Be prepared to expect the unexpected.
Kyle Cannillo is a freshman studying broadcast journalism. To contact him, please email email@example.com.