Weekend Preview: Big Ten, Jan. 31

Posted by: Jashvina Shah

Michigan (12-6-2, 4-2-0 B1G) vs. Wisconsin (14-7-1, 5-3-0 B1G): Jan. 31 at 6:30 p.m., Feb. 1 at 6:30 p.m.

The last time Michigan and Wisconsin faced off, the Badgers swept the Wolverines But those two wins happened at the Kohl Center, where Wisconsin is 13-2-1 this season. On the road, the Badgers are 1-5-0.

The Wolverines are 6-1-1 at home, returning to Yost for the first time since Dec. 11.

Joel Rumpel won four of his last five starts for the Badgers, but had his nine-game winning streak snapped when Wisconsin last to Ohio State last weekend.

Michael Mersch and Mark Zengerle lead the Badger offense with 24 points each. Zengerle is one assist away from breaking into the school’s top-10 career assist list, while Mersch recorded his first career hat trick in the last series between the teams.

Wisconsin’s offense is tied for fifth in the nation, averaging 3.50 goals per game. But they’ll face Zach Nagelvoort, who has a .935 save percentage.

JT Compher leads Michigan with 20 points. The freshman netted five points last weekend when the Wolverines swept Michigan State. When the Wolverines score at least three goals, they are 9-0-0.

Both teams are “ranked,” not that it matters much. Michigan hasn’t looked too impressive this season, but it’s still questionable whether Wisconsin can win away from home.

Prediction: Series Split

Ohio State (12-9-1, 2-5-1 B1G) vs. Penn State (4-15-1, 0-6-0 B1G): Jan. 31 at 7 p.m., Feb. 1 at 2 p.m.

Penn State’s David Glen will miss both games while he recovers from donating bone marrow. Ohio State will host a Be The Match drive at Value City Arena, where fans can register for the National Marrow Donor Program.

These teams have only met once before, and Penn State came away with the 5-4 win in 2012.

Ohio State, which will celebrate 50 years of Buckeye hockey on Saturday, averages 3.50 goals per game. Ryan Dzingel leads Ohio State and the Big Ten with 30 points a 1.36 points per game. He’s part of a Buckeye junior class that averages 5.36 points per game.

Christian Frey and Matt Tomkins have continued to split starts in net.

The Nittany Lions — still winless in conference play — are on a six-game losing streak and have won once in their past 13 games.

Eric Scheid’s 15 points are a team high. Eamon McAdam has started four of the last five games and holds a 3.94 goals-against average and .889 save percentage on the season.

While Penn State is still struggling to find wins, they’ve been playing better –at times — than their record indicates. But the Buckeyes just split a series with Wisconsin last weekend, a big win for a program that’s been playing well.

Prediction: Ohio State sweeps

Minnesota (18-2-4, 7-0-1 B1G) vs. Michigan State (8-12-3, 2-4-2 B1G): Jan. 31 at 9 p.m. Feb. 1 at 8 p.m.

The Golden Gophers are on a 12-game winning streak, the team’s longest sine 2006-07, when the Gophers went undefeated in 22 games. Over the unbeaten streak, Minnesota has converted 33 of 36 penalty kill attempts.

Minnesota averages 3.83 goals per game, second in the nation. Leading the attack is Sam Warning, who has 27 points on the season. Kyle Rau has 23 points, and the Gophers are 56-8-5 when he nets at least one. He also has four points against the Spartans all time.

Adam Wilcox holds a .929 save percentage and a 2.05 goals-against average. All time against Michigan State, Wilcox is 2-0-1 with a 2.30 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage.

Jake Hildebrand has started in 15 straight games for the Spartans and is 2-3-1 in his last five games. Both wins came over Penn State.

Over the past 11 games, the Spartans have won three times, including a victory over Michigan at the Great Lakes Invitational. The team’s only conference wins have been over Penn State.

Minnesota is without question one of the best teams — if not the best — in the nation.

Prediction: Minnesota sweeps the series.

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