Three Things I Think: Big Ten, March 7

Posted by: Jashvina Shah

After a really interesting weekend, the Big Ten standings haven’t changed – but it has made things more interesting. Michigan was swept by Ohio State. Yes, swept by Ohio State. Penn State split with Wisconsin and the Gophers also split with Michigan State.

The Gophers are first with 39 points, securing a first-round bye. The Wolverines are still second but are now just three points ahead of Penn State. The Badgers’ fate for last is sealed. So the interesting battle remains for second spot. The Wolverines probably don’t need a tournament win to make the NCAA tournament, while Penn State probably does.

With just three points separating both teams for that last bye spot, next weekend’s matchup between the two will be fun.

(After the jump: PairWise implications, Michigan takeaways, who’s getting that second spot)

PairWise implications

While the Gophers are assured of a tournament bye, they’re not a lock for the NCAA tournament. The weekend bumped Minnesota back to 17th. The next weekend, and especially the championship weekend, will play a huge part in where the Gophers finish in the PairWise. But at this point, the Gophers pretty much need a tournament win.

CHN released the probability of teams making the tournament, and Michigan is at 99 percent. The Gophers are now at 40 percent, while Penn State is at 44 percent. So that 5-0 loss to Michigan State might really come back to haunt the Gophers.

Penn State was also bumped down to 18th in the PairWise, while Michigan was pushed back to 8th.

What to take away from Michigan’s weekend

Michigan was swept by Ohio State, losing 7-4 and then 6-5 in overtime. Sunday’s contest featured a Wolverine comeback, as Michigan erased a 5-1 deficit to tie the game. The Wolverines struggle on defense and goaltending, this we know. And they especially struggle with those areas when they play Ohio State, a team that’s always a threat to score.

It’s tough to gauge how ready this team will be to play non-conference opponents, though. I think the Wolverines tend to play with their opponents – so you’re not likely to see them allow a lot of goals to teams without offenses like Ohio State. And it’s still possible they can win the Big Ten tournament, if they get that bye.

 

Who’s getting that second spot

Despite all of Michigan’s flaws in net, I find it hard to believe they’ll give up as many goals to Penn State. The last time these teams met, Michigan gave up seven on the weekend, but still won both games by three goals. With three points there are many scenarios that could get Penn State ahead of Michigan.

I’m not sure I see the Wolverines losing to Penn State this weekend.

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