Hockey Bucks Face Spartans in Big Ten Quarterfinals

By Aubrey Nelson on March 20, 2014 at 9:00a

Good morning, puckheads. Do not adjust your set. This is indeed a Thursday hockey preview. The Big Ten tournament begins today. Three days of intense conference action get underway with quarterfinal match ups between Penn State-Michigan (3pm ET) and Michigan State-Ohio State (8pm ET). Here’s what you need to know. 

Spartans vs. Buckeyes

These two teams met four times this season and each game was a battle. Three contests were extended to a shootout. The other was a tight 5-3 game, won in regulation time by Ohio State. 

Michigan State's strength throughout the season has been their defense and the stellar play of sophomore goalie Jake Hildebrand (2.46 GAA, .923 Sv%). At the other end of the ice, the Spartans have struggled to score goals.

At least this was the case up until recently. However, Michigan State's offense is as hot as it's been all season. They've posted 12 total goals in their last three games. As the offense has heated up, the defense has cooled down. The Spartans have allowed four or more goals in five out of their last seven games.

That could be good news for the Buckeyes, whose strength this season has been their high scoring offense. Except they've been going through a dry spell lately. Ah heck, I don't have a clue anymore. 

Matt Berry and Greg Wolfe for Michigan State and Ryan Dzingel for Ohio State are all hot offensively. They've also each posted a bunch of points in the teams' regular season series. I expect they'll be key in tonight's match up as well. 

I also expect we'll see Christian Frey in net for the Buckeyes. Goaltending is always important in a single elimination tournament and he's been the more consistent of Ohio State's netminders.

I have a sneaky suspicion the winner of this one is going to be the team that stays out of the penalty box. Streaks and trends aside, the teams are pretty evenly matched. Both are playing for their postseason lives since neither is in a position for an at large bid to the NCAA tourney. 

Should be a good one. Game time is tonight at 8pm ET. All the tournament games are on BTN, BTN2Go and 1460 AM. Here's a look at the bracket. Do you think Penn State can knock off Michigan one more time?

Game on!

Where to Watch

The Scarlet Liners are hosting a watch party tonight at Roosters at 2454 E Dublin Granville Road in Columbus. They’ve secured the entire back room and have been promised full control of the televisions. No one will need to wrestle a remote away from the March Madness fans. (Although, if it came down to that my money’s on the hockey fans.) Whether you can make it out tonight or not, ensure you’re in the know about future events by following The Scarlet Liners on Facebook and Twitter.

Further Reading

  • Here’s Ohio State’s game preview.
  • Grant Miller previewed the Buckeyes’ B1G tourney for The Lantern.
  • Jeremy Dewar from The Only Colors looks at the Michigan State-Ohio State match up.
  • Check out Off Tackle Empire's Big Ten hockey blogger Q&A with NC_Buckeye repping OSU. Good stuff.
  • Tom Jovenitti and Jashvina Shah preview the B1G tournament for CHN. Paula Weston does the same for USCHO.
  • BTN would like you to vote for your favorite hockey team. I don’t really see the point of this, but OK.
  • Speaking of voting, have you cast your ballot in our Heart of It All Classic? Personally, I’m pulling for Reg Dunlop.


gm3jones's picture

GO get 'em boys!

There is nothing more remarkable as learning to think better.

Crumb's picture

Frozen Four here we come!!!

"The only good thing about it is winning the d*** thing" - Urban Meyer on The Game The War

Dayton Buckeye's picture

Aubrey,  What do the Bucks have to do to make the Frozen Four?  Is there an automatic bid if the win the tournament.  How are the teams selected?

Aubrey Nelson's picture

Yes, the winner of the Big Ten tournament gets an auto-bid, same as in basketball. That's the only shot the Buckeyes have at the NCAA tourney this season. As weak as their non-conference schedule was they needed to make some serious noise in the Big Ten to get an at large bid. Though they played the B1G's top teams tough, they didn't get consistent enough results to make that happen.

The selection committee follows a formula pretty much identical to the PairWise Rankings, which compare teams based on RPI, head-to-head match ups, record vs common opponenets, etc. USCHO explains it more fully here

Seattle Linga's picture

If we bring our A game for the entire weekend - we have a chance.

NC_Buckeye's picture

Thanks for the mention Aubrey. Go Bucks!

Dayton Buckeye's picture

Aubrey,  Thanks for the info.  I should know this.  I play with a few ex red hawks on my men's hockey team. I have really enjoyed watching the Bucks on the big 10 network. My daughter who also plays, really enjoys it as well.  Keep up the great work. It is really appreciated.

Dayton Buckeye's picture

Great win last night.  Go get those Gophers tonight.