Welcome the the first edition of The Ice Garden’s NCAA Matchup of the week! Each week I will be selecting a matchup of either one or two games and having a rotating cast of our writers take a stab at predicting the outcomes. I will also provide some of the computer model’s predictions.
Up first is a western battle for third place in the WCHA and sixth place in our weekly poll.
Minnesota Duluth will visit Ohio State in Columbus this weekend. Friday’s game starts at 6:07 p.m. Eastern and Saturday’s is at 1:07 p.m.
UMD is 5-4-1 on the season so far, with an away record of 1-3-0. Ohio State is 9-5-0 on the season, with a home record of 5-1-0.
William Whyte: OSU 3-1, 4-2. OSU get everyone involved in the offense and sooner or later they’ll just overwhelm the UMD D, no matter what Rooney tries to do about it. Their best forwards are better than UMD’s best forwards. Even though Sydney Brodt will be back from Four Nations with added confidence, it won’t be enough to lift UMD. This could go wrong if Andrea Brändli in the OSU net has a case of freshman wobbles, in which case all bets are off.
Valerie Fox: I’m gonna go with a split here, with the Buckeyes taking advantage of a rusty Bulldog squad on Friday and the Bulldogs exacting revenge on Saturday. UMD hasn’t played a meaningful game of hockey since Oct. 27 at St. Cloud (they did play an exhibition against the Whitecaps Nov.r 3), and I think Ohio State should be able to take advantage of that to shrug off being swept at Bemidji last week. UMD rebounds Saturday to earn a road split. Both games to be one-goal games.
Michelle Jay: Oh boy this could really go either way. I think Ohio State will come out looking like they have something to prove after being swept by unranked Bemidji. They also have the advantage of being at home and not in Duluth, where I think UMD definitely would have had home ice advantage. However, Sydney Brodt will be riding high after a stellar Four Nations, along with Maddie Rooney. I’m going to go with a split weekend. aOSU will take Friday’s game where UMD will take Saturday’s.
Eleni Demestihas: They’ll split the series. tOSU’s offense is impressive, but so is Maddie Rooney. She may not be able to bail UMD out for both games, but I think she can steal them one, especially if Brodt comes back from Four Nations with renewed confidence to rev up UMD’s offense.
Grant Salzano: Boy, it’s pretty tough to figure out what to make of either of these teams. Duluth fired out of a cannon with their sweep of BC at the beginning of the season, but then went 0-3-1 against the Wisconsin/Minnesota buzzsaw immediately after. They’re now coming off a loss to St. Cloud (and an exhibition loss to a wicked good Whitecaps team, so we’ll throw that out), so they aren’t totally back to form.
Ohio State seemed to leapfrog Duluth in the rankings after a decent start — including taking a win against Minnesota — but then they get swept by winless Bemidji?? That’s pretty impressive!
The bottom half of the top ten is just begging for a team to make a statement. Aside from having to play four in a row against the top two teams in the country in the beginning of the year, Duluth comes off as a more consistent team to me. I like the Bulldogs in a road sweep.
Nathan Vaughan: This series is must win territory for both teams as they enter the weekend reeling. Duluth has been struggling since they took out BC to start the season and have been off for two weeks, besides an exhibition. The Ohio State Buckeyes only wish they had been off the last two weekends, getting swept by lowly Bemidji and only beating St. Cloud by one goal each game. They also split with St. Lawrence the weekend before.
Coming into the season I felt both teams were a bit overrated but that a Duluth team getting back Olympic gold medalist Maddie Rooney would be slightly better. This weekend will be a split despite certain other authors saying predicting one is cowardly. Minnesota-Duluth takes advantage of being rested and steals one on Friday but tOSU bounces back after sleeping in their own beds to split it. Sydney Brodt could either carry her Four Nations fame and erupt or could wilt without the support of her All-World line mates.
Robert Wiedenhoeft (Bucky’s 5th Quarter): If Maddie Rooney is going to be Maddie Rooney, this series is the time to do it. She’s surprisingly seventh in the WCHA in both goals against average and save percentage. Granted, Duluth has the second-worst shot differential of any WCHA team. Duluth really needs to start winning some games to give them the hope of an at-large bid, and unfortunately it’s not going to make any progress this weekend.
aOSU is outshooting opponents 487-412 on the season, while opponents are outshooting Duluth 315-284. I expect OSU to pepper Rooney this weekend, as OSU needs to make a statement after the pair of baffling losses to Bemidji. OSU will come away with a big sweep and cement its third place position in the WCHA.
KRACH: Our trusty calculator made available to us by Grant Salzano gives Duluth a 61% chance of beating tOSU.
GRANT: The Grant rankings which were created by Grant Salzano can give score predictions and says Duluth should outscore tOSU at a rate of 3 to 2 (2.77 to 1.91).