Weekend Preview: Big Ten, March 3

Posted by: Jashvina Shah

There are just two weeks left in the Big Ten regular season. A couple of Pairwise spots are still up for grabs, along with the first two conference spots. Ohio State is playing Michigan State and Minnesota is playing Michigan, and that should result in sweeps for the Buckeyes and Gophers. The Penn State-Wisconsin series is the only question mark, but two wins would be huge for a Wisconsin team close to making the tournament.

Michigan vs. Minnesota: March 3 at 6:35 p.m.; March 4 at 8:35 p.m.

The Gophers, currently holding the number one spot in the conference, just split their series with Wisconsin. The Gophers have lost just four conference games, including two losses to Wisconsin. Tyler Sheehy has been having a great year for the Gophers and is nearing 50 points.

Michigan has really been struggling this year, but is coming off a win against Ohio State. For some reason the Wolverines always play the Buckeyes to close games. But the two wins against Ohio State, and one win against Wisconsin early in the year, are the only conference victories Michigan has. The offense is really struggling, and Jake Slaker’s 20 points are the most on the team. All three goaltenders – who play as a part of the team’s rotation – have save percentages above .900.

The Gophers shouldn’t have any issues in this series.

Prediction Minnesota sweeps

Ohio State vs Michigan State: March 3 at 7:05 p.m.; March 4 at 8:05 p.m.

The Buckeyes are still on the inside of the NCAA tournament bubble, despite dropping a 1-0 game to Michigan last weekend. It’s been a series of exchanging wins and losses for the Buckeyes, and they only barely beat Michigan State the last time they met. Mason Jobst and Nick Schilkey are two of the best players in the conference, giving the Buckeyes a powerful offense. Christian Frey played the last two games and now has a .914 save percentage.

The Spartans have not had a great year. They’re on a four-game losing streak, but, as I mentioned above, didn’t lose to Ohio State by much. Michigan State’s only conference wins have come against Michigan. Mason Appleton leads the team with 25 points, but Ed Minney’s save percentage is .884.

If the Buckeyes lose one of these games, it will most likely end their chances at an at-large bid. And the Spartans have played them close.

Prediction: Series split

Penn State vs. Wisconsin: March 3 at 7 p.m.; March 4 at 8 p.m.

This series won’t matter much to Penn State in terms of making the NCAA tournament, but it does matter if they want a chance at the Big Ten title. But for the Badgers, an NCAA tournament trip is on the line. Wisconsin just split with the Gophers and has won most of its conference games, save for the two losses to Penn State and a slight blip against Michigan earlier in the season. Luke Kunin now has 35 points for the Badgers. Matt Jurusik and Jack Berry have split starts for Wisconsin.

Denis Smirnov now has 40 points for Penn State, and Peyton Jones’ save percentage has risen above .900. The Nittany Lions just swept Michigan State but have just four wins over their last 11 games, a contrast to the start of the season.

Penn State won the games against Wisconsin pretty handily, and that series wasn’t too long ago. But never count the Badgers out.

Prediction: Series split

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