Weekend Preview: Big Ten, March 7

Posted by: Jashvina Shah

Michigan (16-10-4, 8-6-2-1 B1G) vs. Michigan State (9-15-7, 3-7-6-4 B1G): March 7 at 7 pm., March 8 at 7 p.m.

Michigan ranks third in the conference with 27 points, four behind Wisconsin. The Wolverines still have a chance to earn the second seed.

The teams will face off in a home-and-home series, but the Spartans haven’t won at Yost since Nov. 13, 2009. The Wolverines are 2-1 against the Spartans this season, with Michigan State’s only win happening at the Great Lakes Invitational.

Matt Berry has nine points against Michigan all-time, while Jake Hildebrand has a .935 save percentage and a 2.34 goals against average against the Wolverines.

Michigan’s goalkeeping has been anything but certain lately, with Steve Racine getting the start in four of the past six games. Racine and Nagelvoort have both played against Michigan State.

Nagelvoort is 2-0-0 with a 1.50 goals-against average and a .954 save percentage, while Racine has a 2.55 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage against the Spartans.

JT Compher leads Michigan in scoring and all Big Ten freshmen with 28 points.

The storyline for Michigan State is still their shot blocking, defense and goalkeeping . They block an average of 17.71 shots per game and have the nation’s 13th-best defense that allows 2.35 goals per game. Hildebrand has stopped 851 pucks on the year, which ranks 10th in the nation.

Michigan has been shaky this season, but has won two of the last three games. Seven of Michigan State’s past nine games have all been one-goal games or ties.

Prediction: Series plit

Penn State (6-22-2, 2-13-1-0 B1G) vs. Wisconsin (19-9-2, 10-5-1-0 B1G): March 7 at 7 p.m., March 8 at 7 p.m.

The Badgers, four points ahead of Michigan for the second seed, return to action after sitting out with a bye week for their first rip to Penn State. The Badgers are 2-7-1 away from the Kohl Center, but they did win in their last road game.

Wisconsin is on a three-game winning streak. The Badgers have won five of their last six, including a pair of victories over Minnesota. In the last three games, Wisconsin’s line of Nic Kerdiles, Nark Zengerle and Tyler Banres have combined for 11 points.

Joel Rumpel has been one of the Big Ten’s best goal keepers this season, even if his numbers on the road aren’t stellar. His 1.83 goals-against average and .936 save percentage leads this season the Big Ten.

The Badgers swept the Nittany Lions earlier this season at the Kohl Center. Penn State has one win in the series against Wisconsin — an overtime victory at the Kohl Center in February last year. Max Gardiner leads the Nittany Lions in scoring against the Badgers with four points.

The Nittany Lions are on a three-game losing streak, but have earned their two conference wins in the past seven games. Matthew Skoff started six in a row, but PJ Musico was in net against Minnesota on Saturday. He made 35 saves and allowed two goals in the loss.

The Badgers have had trouble winning on the road this season and the Nittany Lions have proved they can earn conference wins. There’s a chance Penn State will earn a tie and possibly win a game, but it’s doubtful Wisconsin will drop two games.

Prediction: Wisconsin sweeps

Ohio State (15-11-4, 5-7-4-3 B1G) vs. Minnesota (23-4-5, 12-2-2-0 B1G): March 7 at 7:30 p.m., March 8 at 6:30 p.m.

If Minnesota beats Ohio State and Penn State beats Wisconsin once, the Gophers will clinch at least a share of the Big Ten regular-season title. If the Gophers win both games over Ohio State, they’ll be guaranteed the No. 1 seed.

Ohio State has the nations ninth-best offense, but haven’t scored more than two goals in five of the past six games. Over that stretch, the Buckeyes are 1-2-3.

Six different Buckeyes have registered a point against Minnesota, including leading Big Ten scorer Ryan Dzingel.

Minnesota is 2-0 against the Buckeyes this season, winning 1-0 at the Hockey City Classic and 4-2 at Minnesota. After dropping a pari of games to Wisconsin at the Kohl Center, the Gophers are on a four-game winning streak.

Hudson Fasching had two points in Friday’s win over Penn State and scored the game-winning tally. His 12 goals leads Big Ten freshmen.

Minnesota has the best defense in the country and allows 1.91 goals per game. Against Ohio State, Sam Warning leads the Gophers with three points thanks to a hat trick on Jan. 18.

Prediction: Minnesota sweeps

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