On Feb. 18, 2011, a Minnesota player punches a member of the UW-Madison team during a men's hockey game between the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Minnesota at the Kohl Center. Minnesota won the game 5-2. (Photo by Bryce Richter / UW-Madison)

Series preview: Wisconsin and Minnesota face off in border battle

The Matchup: Wisconsin vs. Minnesota

Dates: Friday/Saturday, March 11/12  7 PM CT

Location: Mariucci Arena, Minneapolis, MN

Ice Surface: 200’ X 100’

TV: Friday- WatchEspn Saturday- BTN

Radio: Friday- WTSO-AM 1070. Saturday- WIBA-AM 1310

Video Stream: Friday- WatchESPN, Saturday-BTN

Audio Stream: Badgersportsnetwork.com (Free)

All-Time Series: 90-163-23 (UW Trails)

Last Meeting: Loss 9-2

About Minnesota

Record: 18-15-0, (13-5-0-0 Big Ten)

Head Coach: Don Lucia (413-217-68) 15th Season

Notable: Minnesota enters the final weekend of Big Ten regular season play as the first place team in the league. The lead Penn State by just four points and the Nittany Lions head to Michigan this weekend. With so little separating the two, the Gophers have their fate in their hands. Sweep Wisconsin and it is an automatic Big Ten regular season championship.

Stat Leaders:

Points: Justin Kloos (33)

Goals:  Hudson Fasching (19)

Assists: Justin Kloos (22)

Save Pct.: Eric Schierhorn (.905)

Goals Against Average: Eric Schierhorn (2.71)

About Wisconsin:

Record: 7-17-8 (2-12-4-2 Big Ten)

Head Coach: Mike Eaves (14th Season – 266-223-66)

Notable: Matt Jurusik and the last-placed Badgers come in with a little bit of momentum behind them after a 4-3 win at home to Penn State that included 46 saves from Jurusik in net. It is statistically impossible for the Badgers to place anywhere but last as they trail Michigan State by 7 points with the final weekend upon them.

Stat Leaders

Points: Grant Besse (30)

Goals: Luke Kunin (16)

Assists:  Grant Besse (22)

Save Pct.: Matt Jurusik (.891)

Goals Against Average: Matt Jurusik (3.46)

Quick Analysis:

This one, like the previous match-up between these two teams could get ugly fast. The circumstances around this game are just far too large for the Badgers to overcome in my opinion.

First and foremost, Wisconsin’s season is over. Minnesota can win out for a regular season Big Ten Title, a goal for this team since the beginning of the year. Second, it is at home. Wisconsin has only won 28 times in Minnesota in the history of the program. It is far-fetched to believe they can snag one on one of their worst seasons in history. Finally, in a sad reality, this year Wisconsin is simply out-matched at every position by the Gophers.

Look for Grant Besse to put up a couple points on the weekend. The Minnesota-native has fared well when playing his home state. I doubt the first line of Hughes, Kunin and Besse can manage to pull Wisconsin to victory in this one.

Random side note, I put money on Kunin getting into some fights here. Talented kid on a losing team after a rough season, emotions will boil over for this kid. Could be fun side story to watch.

 

Prediction:

Friday- Wisconsin 1  Minnesota 4

Saturday- Wisconsin 2 Minnesota 6

Minnesota at home is a virtual lock for a sweep. Badgers have nothing to play for, Minnesota has a Big Ten title on the line. It is not rocket science, Badgers get beat up on in Minnesota and end the season with their tail between the legs looking to make some sort of run in the Big Ten tournament.

Sawyer Bock

About Sawyer Bock

Sawyer is a Junior at UW-Madison majoring in Communication Arts and Journalism. He is a beat writer for the UW- Men's Hockey Team. You can catch him on UW-Madison's student radio WSUM where he hosts a sports talk show and broadcasts numerous varieties of Badger sports or on twitter @YoungSawyer_

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