Three Things I Think: Big Ten, Feb. 23

Posted by: Jashvina Shah

Another weekend in the Big Ten, another slate of odd results. Well, most were expected actually, since Michigan beat Ferris State 5-2 and Michigan State swept Wisconsin. But the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions split the series. Penn State won the first game 6-1 and then Ohio State win 7-4.

But series splits with complete score reversals seems to be the norm for the Big Ten this year.

Since the Gophers were off and the Wolverines had a non-conference opponent, there were only two series to draw from. But it hasn’t helped determine which of the top teams are better. Although with the win, Penn State moved three points behind Michigan and four points behind Minnesota.

The Gophers and Wolverines battle this week for the first spot in the conference.

(After the jump: Wisconsin is the worst team in the Big Ten, the bye is very important and something to remember about the Big Ten teams in the PWR)

Wisconsin is the worst team in the Big Ten

For a long time I’ve talked about the Badgers being better than their record. But after the drubbing from Minnesota (that I witnessed first hand), I’ve questioned it. And now, I relinquish it. The Badgers have so much talent, but they’re really struggling with consistency. And they’re not playing the way they should be.

It’s really tough to justify a team with players like Luke Kunin, or even Matt Jurusik (who’s played better than expected) being this bad. The flashes Wisconsin has shown of being better than last year isn’t enough.

That bye is really important

The race is getting intense for the first and second spots, because Michigan and Minnesota aren’t locks. Penn State is very close to the two, and who knows what will happen before the season ends. 

I was interviewing J.T. Compher for a feature yesterday, and he was talking about the importance of the bye. That one day is pretty important when it means you have three must-win games in a row, and it especially takes a toll on goaltending. So while who finishes first might not be important, that bye is crucial.

What you need to remember about Big Ten teams in the PWR

There was some chatter last week about Penn State and whether or not it’ll make the NCAA tournament, mostly saying the Nittany Lions are in a good position. Now, Penn State is 15th, Minnesota 16th and Michigan 6th. 

I can’t remember where Penn State was at the time of this conversation (somewhere on the lower end/closer to the bubble I think), but it just reminded me of what happened with Michigan last year. The Wolverines were in a good spot, but the Big Ten tournament results kicked the Woverines out.

There’s so much that can happen between now and regionals, so many results looming. And that championship Saturday has a reputation for making or breaking team tournament hopes. 

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