Wednesday, November 26, 2014

What to Make of Big 10

In an article posted on USCHO, they were quoted with saying that the Big 10 Conference isn't all that bad, and that they are one of the stronger conferences in all of college hockey. Let us just take a look at the numbers to see if we can back-up the USCHO article shall we.

First off, there is only one, yes ONE Big 10 team in the USCHO top 20 and that is Minnesota at number three, which is just a bit too generous. Even though their last game was an exhibition against the USA development team, they still lost, which would mark three losses in a row for the Golden Gophers. If they are able to stay at three after three losses in a row, why did Michigan Tech, from the WCHA, drop big time after getting swept by Mankato last weekend?

Now we have the struggling Wisconsin Badgers. Wisconsin has yet to win a game this season, and has looked terrible in a majority of their contests this season. Last season's Big 10 tournament champions have lost nine in a row, dating back to last seasons NCAA tournament loss to North Dakota, where again they were extremely outplayed.

Just two teams in the conference have winning records this season, Penn State (7-3-2) and Minnesota (7-3-0). Lets see how many ranked opponents each team has beat, starting with Penn State. Penn State holds one of their seven victories over a top 10 opponent, and that is number four UMass Lowell where they won 4-1. Yes they did split with Michigan too, but is Michigan just known and talked about because of their historic name and coach this year? Penn State's last contest was an 8-1 loss to Michigan, making me wonder if they can compete with the big boys for real. Minnesota has had some struggles against other ranked opponents this season as well. In three games against number eight Minnesota-Duluth, they are 1-2-0 and have been outscored 8-5 in the series. They also hold a split against number 16 St. Cloud State and barely pulled off the overtime victory on home ice in the weekend series.

Conference play finally started this past weekend, with four of the six teams in action. Each team won one and lost one game, not showing any powerhouses throughout the conference. If you look inside the conference, Minnesota will probably be the only team with any chance at the NCAA tournament, but with their sloppy play as of late makes me wonder if they will have to win their conference to do it.

Taking a look at Michigan State, they seem to have what it takes to be competitive with their opponents, but doesn't quite have what it takes to finish games on a consistent basis. They most recently played number 12 Boston College and lost the decision 3-2. They could play upset once it comes conference tournament time, but that could be about it.

Finally, Ohio State has had one early season win worthy of note, and that is against Providence, who probably was a tad overrated at the time. Other than that, the Buckeyes have not looked anything but average at best making me wonder how they made it to the Big 10 championship last season.

The Big 10 is a conference that created a lot of drama once it entered college hockey last season, and ruined many great college hockey rivalries that fans have grown to love over the past four decades. With a sub 500 non conference record in almost a year and a half in existence, does the Big 10 deserve to be called one of college hockey's top conferences like some think it should be?

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