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Face Off Tackle Empire // Weekend Preview and Open Thread January 8th & 9th

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We have a full slate of games this weekend with Minnesota heading to Happy Valley, Michigan and Michigan State facing off in a home-and-home, and Ohio State travelling to Madison.

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

(8) Michigan vs Michigan State

Munn Ice Arena; East Lansing, MI
Friday @ 6:30 et/7:30 ct on ESPNews/BTN2Go
Yost Ice Arena; Ann Arbor, MI
Saturday @ 7 et/8 ct on BTN/BTN2Go

These two teams participated in the Great Lakes Invitational over break which saw Michigan come away with the crown and State finish last.  Right now, KRACH has these two pegged as the best (Michigan) and worst (State) in the B1G.  MSU is 1-10-1 in its last 12 while Michigan is 6-1-2 in its last 9.  I see that trend continuing with a Wolverine sweep.  If MSU can't turn their season around and make some noise in the B1G tournament, Tom Anastos should be fired.

My Pick: MI 6 - 0 MSU
KRACH: MI 5.18-0.82 MSU

Minnesota at (14) Penn State

Pegula Ice Arena; University Park, PA
Friday @ 6:30 et/ 5:30 ct on BTN/BTN2Go
Saturday @ 3 et/2 ct on BTN Plus

First of all, why is Minnesota relegated to BTN Plus? The team that draws the most eyeballs should at least be on BTN2Go.  Gopher fans continue to get hosed with the TV contract in the Big Ten.  There is no reason why any Gopher conference game should not be available online for free.  This is one of the reasons that many Gopher fans will continue to detest B1G Hockey and actively pine for the old WCHA.  At least then we could watch every game.

This series will go a long way towards deciding who wins the conference and who gets a first round bye in the B1G Tournament.  Penn State comes in rated better in KRACH mostly due to dominating a weak schedule so far.  Penn State has the lowest KRACH SOS in the B1G at 44 while Minnesota has played the hardest at 10.  Last year, Penn State was able to split at home and will need to improve upon that to take the next step.  A Minnesota split puts them in a great position to earn a bye and defend their title.  I think Minnesota is able to split again after a good showing in the Mariucci Classic last week.

My Pick: MN 3 - 3 PSU
KRACH: MN 2.24 - 3.76 PSU

Ohio State at Wisconsin

Kohl Center; Madison, WI
Friday @ 8 et/7 ct on BTN Plus
Saturday @ 8 et/7 ct on Wisconsin Public Television/BTN2Go

Ohio State is coming off a great tournament win down in Florida with dominating wins against Boston College and Cornell.  Wisconsin won an exhibition 1-0.  Wisconsin is 2-4-2 in their last 8 while OSU is 4-4.  I think Ohio State rides their momentum to a split in Madison.  The Badgers will find a way to blow a lead in one of the games but will win big in the other.

My Pick: OSU 3 - 3 WI
KRACH: OSU 2.64 - 3.36 WI

(17) Denver at (6) Nebraska Omaha

Baxter Arena; Omaha, NE
Friday @ 8 et/7 ct on Nebraska Public TV (NET)/NCHC Streaming
Saturday @ 8 et/7 ct on NCHC Streaming

UNO hosts Denver in an NCHC Conference series. UNO's KRACH rating (485.5) is much higher than Michigan's (279.4) while DU (132.7) is just behind Minnesota(135.2).  UNO is 4th in the NCHC with 13 pts (The Fighting...ummmm..looks like they picked a new name?....Hawks are in first with 27) while Denver is in 6th with 10 pts.  UNO is undefeated at home so I look for them to keep that up this weekend.

My Pick: DU 0 - 6 UNO
KRACH: DU 1.29 - 4.71 UNO