Three Things I Think: Big Ten, Feb. 6

Posted by: Jashvina Shah

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?)

Will Penn State Make The NCAA Tournament?

Panic! At The Disco. Lame jokes aside, I’d hesitate before telling people Penn State won’t make the NCAA tournament. But I’ve been running some situations in the PairWise predictor, and it’s dicey. I ran a simulation where Penn State wins all games gainst Michigan and Michigan State but drops all games to Wisconsin and Minnesota. In that scenario, Penn State finishes 20th in the PairWise. (This scenario doesn’t account fo results of any other games, though).

That’s a little alarming because, after the series against Minnesota, there are questions if Penn Stata can even pull off one win against Minnesota or Wisconsin. And that doesn’t take into account how further Penn State would fall when the teams they beat start beating each other.

Penn State was No.1 midway through the year, and it was very unlikely the would drop completely out. Unlikely, but this has happened before (with Ohio State). So don’t panic yet, but … I would panic if Penn State loses to Michigan or Michigan State.

My gut says they’ll take at least one game from Minnesota or Wisconsin.

Nick Schilkey Is Underrated

There’s no specific reason I’m writing this now, but I think it should be said. He’s been overshadowed a lot during his career, partly because Ohio State has always had some high-scoring players that have overshadowed him and also because Ohio State itself has been overshadowed.

But Schilkey is a good captain and has always been one of the better players in the conference. He just returned from his injury this weekend and celebrated the comeback by scoring three goals over the weekend. Per Ohio State, he’s the first Buckeye to reach 20 goals in a season since Ryan Dzingel did it (remember him?). Schilkey has a 30.3 percent shooting percentage, second in the NCAA.

Who’s Better – Wisconsin or Minnesota?

This is only a question since both teams are tied for first in the Big Ten. Before the season started I picked Minnesota to win. I have since revised my pick 50 times, but still think the Gophers will win. Both teams have questionable goaltending, but – while Wisconsin is greatly improved in terms of consistency and defense – I think the Gophers are a little more put together. For now.


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