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Michigan hockey looks to keep pace in Big Ten during two-game Wisconsin series

The Wolverines sit atop the Big Ten with another familiar opponent. To keep pace, they must continue to win.

COLLEGE HOCKEY: NOV 24 Wisconsin at Michigan Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The No. 4 ranked Michigan Wolverines hit the road this weekend to take on the Wisconsin Badgers. Michigan is coming off of a series split with Minnesota while Wisconsin was swept last weekend 4-1 and 7-2 by Penn State. The Wolverines split with the Badgers the first time they played early in the season, winning 3-0 and then losing 4-2.

Know The Opponent

Wisconsin features nine NHL draft picks on its team and are led by one of the youngest among them in freshman defenseman Carson Ceulemans (2021, Round 1, No. 25 overall) with 17 points in 25 games. Despite having NHL talent, the Badgers have struggled this season and sit in fifth place in the Big Ten with an 8-15-3 record.

After playing Michigan the first time, Wisconsin at one point lost seven of eight games. A big issue for the Badgers is they’ve given up 84 goals through the 25 games they’ve played — that’s seventh most out of 59 teams in all of Division 1.

Special teams also haven’t been good for the Badgers, as they rank last of all Big Ten teams with a 17% conversion rate and a 58th in the country on penalty kill at 71%.

Scoring wise, up there with Celeumans is senior forward Tarek Baker who also has 17 points. Brock Caufield, the brother of Montreal Canadian Cole Caufield, has 14 points. Wisconsin only has five players who have scored more than 10 points and played at least 20 games this season.

In net, the Badgers are led by junior Jared Moe, who actually has been a bright spot for them this year with a .920 save percentage and 2.75 goals against despite only having six wins. If the Badgers are to steal six points this weekend, look for Moe to be the reason why.

Take advantage on the power play

Michigan has the best power play in the Big Ten. Wisconsin has the worst penalty do the math here.

If the Badgers can’t stay out of the box, Michigan wins running away. They should want to play five-on-five as much as possible and not turn these games into a special team's affair, given how lack luster they have been for them this year.

Michigan needs the six points to keep pace with the Ohio State Buckeyes, as that big two-game series looms just three weeks away. Both teams are tied for first in the Big Ten with 33 points, so it may end up coming down to that series to determine who wins the conference.

Where can I watch the game?

Friday, Jan. 28, 7 p.m., BIG+

Saturday, Jan. 29, 9 p.m., Big Ten Network