Preview: Wisconsin Returns to Pegula for Big Ten Quarterfinals

By Sam Watson on March 8, 2019 at 1:52 pm
Badger Season

Roar Lions Roar

0 Comments
Wisconsin Badgers
13-16-5 (9-10-5-2 B1G)
ROSTER / SCHEDULE
8 p.m. EST – FRIDAY, MAR. 8
PEGULA ICE ARENA
UNIVERSITY PARK, PA
6 p.m. EST – SATURDAY, MAR. 9
PEGULA ICE ARENA
UNIVERSITY PARK, PA
6 p.m. EST – SUNDAY, MAR. 10 (If Necessary)
PEGULA ICE ARENA
UNIVERSITY PARK, PA
Game 1: BTNPLUS | GAMETRACKER
Game 2: BTN PLUS | GAMETRACKER
Game 3: BTN PLUS | GAMETRACKER

The playoffs are upon us, and, remarkably, Penn State still has a shot at claiming an NCAA tournament berth. Before that can happen, good things need to happen against the Badgers this weekend. Penn State has learned the hard way that the Badgers will not go down lightly after an 8-2 win and 7-3 loss two weekends ago. The stakes were high then, and they're much higher now. A sweep this weekend would place Penn State in the top-16 in the Pairwise Rankings, while a series loss would end the season. 

Wisconsin news

K'andre Miller has been out multiple weeks with a lower body injury. The Badger's best player made the trip to State College this weekend, but is still practicing in a no-contact jersey. Tony Granato said early in the week that Miller is waiting for the final approval from team doctors, and getting Miller back would be a huge boost for a Wisconsin team that is looking to play spoiler. 

Keys to a Penn State Sweep

Penn State was a Friday night defensive collapse away from getting the sweep in South Bend last weekend. The Lions led Notre Dame 4-1 with seven minutes to go in the second period and ended up losing 5-4 in overtime. Thankfully, the defense was able to rebound Saturday during the 3-2 win, and I'm really, really, really hoping that the defensive effort Saturday can be carried over to this weekend. The story of this season has been a constant battle between some of the best offensive power in college hockey, followed by some of the weakest defensive efforts in the sport (if it weren't for perennial bottom feeders, statistically Penn State would have the worst defense in the country). The key for this weekend, seemingly like every other weekend going all the way back to October, boils down to what version of this Penn State team gets out of bed in the morning. The Lions have the offensive skill from the likes of Berger, Biro, Barratt, Folkes, Limoges, and all the others that haven't regularly made headlines this season to score ten in back to back games against Wisconsin this weekend. Where the games will be won lost is in the area around Peyton Jones and his net. The season depends on Penn State's defenders being strong near the blue paint, making smart passes from behind the net, and not losing speedy Wisconsin forwards. This performance doesn't even need to be great. It just needs to be good enough. And by good enough I mean not one of the worst in the country. If the Lions can manage to simply not fall apart on the back end, the offense will be able to ride the Pegula wave to a successful sweep. 

Prediction

I have a good feeling about this weekend. Last year, Penn State's quarterfinal against Minnesota was the first time we saw how truly dominate Evan Barratt can be, and he will rise to the occasion once again. This weekend also presents an outstanding chance for the seniors (and for the rest of the team) to redeem themselves  after a senior night forget. That energy, plus the energy of the playoffs in Pegula, will be enough to get the locker room to focus on the task at hand for more than one game. Wisconsin will not go gently into that good night and will keep the series close, but Penn State will finally do enough to get the sweep.  Game 1: 6-3, Game 2: 5-4. Bucky is an angry skunk.

0 Comments