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Hockey Series Preview: No. 9 Michigan Wolverines vs. Michigan State Spartans

Michigan opens the second half with a home-and-home against its rivals.

COLLEGE HOCKEY: NOV 14 Michigan State at Michigan Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

One word consistently filled all Michigan hockey previews ahead of the 2020-21 season: potential. The Wolverines brought in one of the most electric freshman classes ever with incredible talent and a Frozen Four ceiling, but there were some question marks surrounding a very young roster.

So far, that potential remains largely untapped. Michigan sits ninth in the USCHO poll but has just a .500 record, dropping fives of its last six games ahead of the break. There is still everything to play for, but the Wolverines did not expect to be 13 points out of first place come the turn of the calendar. Nevertheless, this weekend offers a great opportunity to get things back on track.

Series Info & How to Watch

Teams: No. 9 Michigan Wolverines (5-5-0, 8 pts) vs. Michigan State Spartans (4-4-2, 8 pts)
Location: Ann Arbor, MI and East Lansing, MI
Game 1: Friday, Jan. 8, 7:00 pm ET — BTN+
Game 2: Saturday, Jan. 9, 4:30 pm ET — Big Ten Network

The Wolverines are better than their record indicates — especially given the absences against Minnesota because of the World Juniors — but the same cannot be said about the Spartans, though the two squads are currently level on points. Michigan’s rival has not been a real threat over the past few years and has just about played to its second-to-last projection in the Big Ten preseason poll.

Michigan State is coming in off a series at the beginning of the week, splitting a pair with Penn State. Scoring has been a huge issue for the Spartans, as they sit last in the conference after losing most of their top contributors from last year. However, they are also pretty stingy on the defensive end, so this series could be lower scoring if the Wolverines continue to find issues capitalizing.

Friday’s contest will be played at Yost, while the back-end of the series will be up at Munn. Michigan could really use a strong start to 2021 if it wants to compete for the Big Ten title and a postseason bid, and there is no better way to do so than beating a rival. There is still over 50 percent of the regular season remaining, so getting off on the right foot after the winter break would be a good way to set the tone going forward.