This weekend saw the Big Ten’s out-of-conference record fall even further. The conference recorded a 4-3-1 weekend, which included a sweep by Wisconsin over Arizona State. The Badgers weren’t the only Big Ten team to finally earn a win, as Ohio State defeated Mercyhurst 5-1 on Saturday night.
Penn State tied St. Lawrence the first night and then dropped a 4-2 decision. The powerful Nittany Lion offense stalled, which wasn’t surprising against St. Lawrence’s defense. The Wolverines split their series against Robert Morris, which included a shutout in a 4-0 loss on Saturday night. The Buckeyes also split their Atlantic Hockey series against Mercyhurst.
It’s still really early in the season, but it’s evident this will be another difficult year for the conference.
(After the jump: Inconsistency again, Michigan’s less-known rookie scorer, non-conference woes – again)
Last year this was a big issue, particularly for Minnesota and Michigan. Inconsistency was more noticeable with those two teams, as they fight each other for the conference title all season long. It’s still early in the season, butI it seems neither team has solved inconsistency issues. That makes sense for a very young Minnesota team relying on freshmen each night, but is worrisome for Michigan.
The Wolverines do have some rookie scorers – like Kyle Connor and Cooper Marody – but they still have a good group of veterans. And last year I thought inconsistency would solve itself with a veteran-laden Gopher team, and it never did. So it’s something to watch for Michigan as the season goes on.
Michigan’s freshman scorer who isn’t Kyle Connor
There was a lot of hype around Kyle Connor, Michigan’s freshman forward, after his standout year in the USHL. Before the season, I also wrote a feature on Connor, and it was clear that Red Berenson knew Connor would be one of the team’s top scorer. He is, and he’s tied for the team lead with seven points.
But alongside Connor is fellow draft pick, but certainly lesser-known, freshman Cooper Marody. Marody, who was taken in the sixth round, has kind of flown under the radar. He’s a player to watch for, especially as he develops at Michigan. The freshman has had three multi-point games this season and has seven points so far.
Ah, my favorite topic. I think I write about this every week – or at least I did last year. But it’s too big of an issue to ignore. While it’s way too early to think about PairWise rankings, the non-conference losses that are happening right now will really hurt the conference at the end of the year. Most likely, the Big Ten is only getting one team into the NCAA tournament.
There’s still time for the conference to start winning against its non-league opponents, but that probably won’t happen. Both the Badgers and Buckeyes are really going to struggle to win, while Michigan, Penn State, Minnesota and Michigan State have had a hard time winning out of conference. And when the teams do win, it’s typically against Atlantic Hockey opponents.