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Hockey Series Preview: No. 15 Arizona State Sun Devils at No. 12 Michigan Wolverines

The Wolverines open a 2020-21 season that is filled with expectations.

NCAA HOCKEY: NOV 04 Michigan at Arizona State Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Welcome to hockey season! Though the Big Ten waited until the very last minute to put out a schedule (of which less than 50 percent has actually been announced), there will indeed be college hockey this year. This is great news for the No. 12 Michigan Wolverines, who are absolutely loaded with talent this season and boast one of the most exciting freshman classes since...ever?

Up first is a visit from No. 15 Arizona State. Yes, the Sun Devils have a hockey program (this will be their sixth Division I season and these are not their first games against Michigan), but no, they are not a member of the Big Ten. Since the conference currently sits at seven teams, an eighth team was needed to make sure every school could play each week, and independent ASU wound up being the perfect fit. Like they will against the actual Big Ten teams, the Wolverines will face the Sun Devils for a pair of two-game sets this season.

Series Info & How to Watch

Teams: No. 15 Arizona State Sun Devils (0-0) vs. No. 12 Michigan Wolverines (0-0, 0-0)
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Game 1: Saturday, Nov. 14, 3:00 pm ET — BTN+ (subscription required)
Game 2: Sunday, Nov. 15, 7:00 pm ET — Big Ten Network

The Wolverines come into the year after a very strong finish to the 2019-20 season. It would have been fun to see the team compete for the Big Ten title, and it sure seems like an NCAA Tournament bid was on its way even after a disastrous first couple months. With plenty of returning talent and multiple elite freshmen joining the team, Michigan came in at second in the Big Ten presason poll this week.

Arizona State ranked 12th in the final PairWise Rankings last season, ahead of the Wolverines (17th). They were on track to make their second consecutive NCAA Tournament, and this season they should again find themselves in competition for a postseason bid. Geography is a challenge for a team located in Tempe, and this year the Sun Devils will be forced to play all 28 games on the road. This squad is plenty dangerous, though, and are led by forward Johnny Walker, who has 60 career goals to his name.

On paper this should be a good series. While it may not count towards the conference standings, every game matters in a year with a reduced schedule, and the Wolverines will need to be sharp right from the start. This may be a big ask for a team that is going to be leaning on a heavy number of freshmen, so the hope is that talent can bridge the gap until these players can get some experience under their belt. No matter how these early games play out, this should be an extremely fun Michigan team to watch this year.