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.
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With another weekend completed there are just a few contests separating these teams from the Big Ten tournament. Unlike over the past couple of years, the Big Ten tournament won’t be the only path to the NCAA tournament. Minnesota and Penn State are pretty much a lock for the NCAA tournament, while Wisconsin is 13th and Ohio State is listed as 15th but would technically be 14th if the season ended today, because St. Cloud State – the 14th team – is under .500. Anyway, that means there’s a lot of fun Pairwise stuff to watch as the season winds down.
Nothing exciting happened again last week, except that Michigan won a 1-0 game against Ohio State. Although it’s strange it was only 1-0 – when’s the last team those two teams combined for just one goal? But it looks like the lost hasn’t actually ruined Ohio State’s at-large bid chances yet. Penn State swept Michigan State and Minnesota and Wisconsin split. So basically we saw more of the same.
(After the jump: Who’ll win,, Mason Jobst and Minnesota’s coming together)
The Gophers close out their season with a couple of easy matches against Michigan and Michigan State, so I stand by my preseason prediction that the Gophers will at least win the regular season and lock up the No. 1 spot. Their main competition right now is Wisconsin, but the Badgers have to face both Penn State and Ohio State. While That’s a much tougher slate than what Minnesota has left, and last time the Badgers couldn’t beat the Nittany Lions.
Now, there’s more than just a regular-season championship at stake. The top of the Big Ten standings are pretty tight, with just 10 points separating Minnesota, Wisconsin, Penn State and Ohio State. With three points on the line for each game, that leaves 12 points available now until the end of the season. The bye day means the most for Wisconsin and Ohio State, since their only path may be through the automatic bid.
Mason Jobst gets little fanfare, but the sophomore forward is really good, and he has 42 points this year. That ranks 12th in the country and second in the Big Ten. The Buckeyes in general have an underrated offense and Jobst is the leader of that. He’s a small player but extremely impactful.
Minnesota’s Coming Together
The Gophers always start the season struggling, but that has a lot to do with their tough non-conference competition. This year it seems like Minnesota has started to put it together as the season continued, and the Gophers are almost a lock for the Big Ten regular-season title. They’re also the most likely team who can win two games in a row.
This wouldn’t be the first time Minnesota has won a Big Ten tournament and not been a great team (see 2015) but things seem different for the Gophers this year. Their goaltending might not be strong, but don’t pass on their offense – Tyler Sheehy’s 48 points rank eighth in the country.
This is the last weekend of play for most conferences, but the Big Ten has a couple more weeks left in its regular season. The border battle resumes, Penn State plays Michigan State and the Buckeye-Wolverine rivalry will resume.
The series to keep an eye on is really Ohio State-Michigan. The Buckeyes are currently “in” the NCAA tournament, and should easily beat Michigan. But the teams split last time and the loss was enough to knock Ohio State out temporarily. If the Buckeyes lose again, that might doom their NCAA chances permanently.
Right now the Gophers are almost a lock for the NCAA tournament. Penn State has a high chance of making it, but the outlook isn’t as great for the Badgers and Buckeyes.
The Minnesota-Wisconsin series will be interesting in the Big Ten standings, since only three points separate the two teams. And Penn State and Ohio State aren’t far behind, so either one of those teams could sneak into a top-two spot depedning on the outcome of the Badgers-Gopher series.
All the usual suspects won out in the Big Ten. Minnesota swept Penn State, Wisconsin swept Michigan and Ohio State swept Michigan State. The Gophers and Nittany Lions played to a close, overtime thriller on Saturday and it may indicate that Penn State has a chance at winning the Big Ten tournament. Wisconsin beat Michigan easily on Friday but followed with a victory by a margin of two goals the next night.
The closest series was, oddly, the Ohio State-Michigan State series. The Buckeyes are supposed to be a good team but could only beat the Spartans by a goal in each game.
The Gophers, Nittany Lions and Buckeyes are currently on the inside of the Pairwise, but more on that below. The Gophers hold the No. 1 spot in the confernce
(After the jump: A Pairwise look, Ohio State things and bad Big Ten goaltending)
The biggest matchup of the weekend is the second series between Minnesota and Penn State. The games will be played at Penn State, giving the Nittany Lions a chance to prove if they can be a dominant team in the Big Ten this year.
The Badgers and Buckeyes should have an easy time this weekend, as Wisconsin faces Michigan and Ohio State faces Michigan State. Both the Wolverines and Spartans have struggled this year.
Here’s the Big Ten standings:
1. Minnesota (27)
2. Wisconsin (24)
3. Penn State (22)
4. Ohio State (17)
5. Michigan (10)
6. Michigan State (8)
Minnesota is fourth in the Pairwise, Penn State sixth, Ohio State 15th and Ohio State 21st.
The Buckeyes will be without Josh Healey for the weekend as he was, wait for it, suspended two games for a contact to the head major penalty and game misconduct on Feb. 11 against Minnesota. Guy Gadowksy told reporters this week that defenseman Kevin Kerr will be out this weekend.
Another wild weekend produced another wild series of Pairwise flips. Penn State swept Wisconsin, Michigan State tied and beat Michigan and Minnesota and Ohio State split.
Penn State has moved back up to sixth in the Pairwise. Minnesota is fifth, Ohio State 15th and Wisconsin 21. The Gophers have the sole lead in the conference now and has a three-point lead over the Badgers. Penn State is five points out of first and Ohio State is 10 points out. The Buckeyes, though, are just seven points (so about three games) out of second.
(After the jump: Each game has wild PWR implications and Penn State is nearly a lock and Michigan may be the worst in the B1G)
This weekend features two interesting series. The Badgers and Nittany Lions will face off as will the Gophers and Buckeyes. Those games will all have major Pairwise and Big Ten standing implications. The Michigan-Michigan State will also be interesting, but neither team has a chance at a top-two seed in the conference or the NCAA tournament.
Ohio State has been slipping badly in the Pairwise and a win would be huge for them. Meanwhile Penn State has a lot to prove this weekend.
Now that it’s February we can finally start taking stock in the Pairwise. That’s good if you’re Minnesota, not good if you’re Penn State. But we’ll get to that later. Both Minnesota and Wisconsin swept this weekend, which leaves both teams tied for the lead in the Big Ten standings. Meanwhile Michigan and Ohio State split in two odd, high-scoring games, meaning nothing has changed between those two teams since last year.
The tournament is still over a month away, but those No. 1 and No. 2 sports are crucial. A team can’t win the crown without the bye day.
(After the jump: Will Penn State make the NCAA tournament, Nick Schilkey is underrated and who’s better – Wisconsin or Minnesota?) (more…)
The Wolverines and Buckeyes face off in another installment of the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry (I’ve been told it’s a big deal, but can’t confirm yet). The Spartans are playing Wisconsin, leaving the best matchup of the weekend the series between Minnesota and Penn State.
The Badgers are close to creeping inside the Pairwise bubble while Ohio State is sliding out, so the Buckeyes really can’t afford to lose to a struggling Michigan team. The Badgers and Gophers, bitter rivals till the end, are locked in a tie for first place. Penn State is third and Ohio State is fourth, but the Buckeyes aren’t too far out.
Ohio State captain Nick Schilkey still has not played since Jan. 14. I asked Steve Rohlik if there was an update on him after Saturday’s game and Rohlik said there was none. Tanner Laczynski returned, though, and Rohlik said he’s doing better.
Hobey Baker nominees were released this week. Grant Besse, Jake Bischoff, Peyton Jones, Justin Kloos, Luke Kunin, Nick Schilkey, Tyler Sheehy and Denis Smirnov were nominated. Penn State’s David Goodwin was also named a finalist for the Hockey Humanitarian award.
Another weekend of the season passed, bringing us closer to the end. The Gophers split the last-ever North Star College Cup, falling to Minnesota-Duluth 3-2 and beating Bemidji State 4-0. Penn State lost to Princeton, while Wisconsin swept Ohio State.
The Pairwise have shifted quite a bit. Unsurprisingly Penn State has dropped to fifth, while Ohio State has fallen to 16th. The Badgers are creeping up and now sit at 18. Minnesota is seventh. In the Big Ten Wisconsin now is tied for first place with Minnesota. Penn State is two points behind, while Ohio State is back by five points. It looks like Michigan and Michigan State, while not mathematically eliminated, most likely won’t get a bye.
Over the past few years the bye day has been huge because teams needed to win the tournament to get into NCAAs, but this year it looks like at least a couple teams will be high up enough for an at-large bid.
Tanner Laczynski returned for Ohio State but Nick Schilkey is still out. The Buckeyes have still been playing well, and it’s a testament to them they’ve won without their top scorer. Speaking of the Buckeyes, Josh Healey was suspended for Friday’s game against Michigan for making a hit he wasn’t supposed to on Saturday. In that game Grant Besse was also hurt and didn’t return. After the game Tony Granato said Besse was sore so the trainers didn’t want him to come back.
(After the jump The Badgers are on fire, Who’s going to make the NCAA tournament and Penn State is going to struggle)