Previewing the 2021 Big Ten Hockey Tournament


The MSU hockey team huddles together before a game/ Photo Credit: MSU Athletic Communications

Kyle Hatty, General Assignment Reporter

The 2020-21 Big Ten hockey tournament will take place in South Bend, Indiana, at the Compton Family Ice Arena, where Notre Dame plays its home games. The tournament will include all seven Big Ten teams and is a single elimination tournament that begins on March 14 and lasts until March 16. 

No. 1 seeded Wisconsin won the conference regular season championship, so they will get a bye and play the winner of the No. 5 Penn State vs. No. 4 Notre Dame contest on March 15 at 4:30. 

Day one of the tournament will begin with the aforementioned Nittany Lions taking on the Fighting Irish.  Notre Dame and Penn State played each other on March 5-6 to conclude the regular season, with the Irish taking both games in commanding fashion. Notre Dame went 3-1 against Penn State this season with the only Nittany Lion win coming in a 2-1 overtime win in Happy Valley.

Following that game will be No. 7 Michigan State and No. 2 Minnesota at 4 p.m. The Golden Gophers went 4-0 against the last place Spartans during the regular season, outscoring Michigan State 16-6. Minnesota split their final regular season series at home with Michigan—who is No. 6 in the country according to the USCHO poll. The Golden Gophers finished the regular season top 10 in goals per game (3.81) and goals against per game (1.96). Michigan State comes into the tournament having lost their last six games and nine of their last 10 of the regular season. 

MSU forward Nicolas Muller shoots a puck against Minnesota/ Photo Credit: MSU Athletic

The final quarterfinal game is No. 6 Ohio State against No. 3 Michigan. The Wolverines also come in with a top 10 offense (3.54 goals per game) and defense (2.00 goals allowed per game) in the country. Michigan won the regular season series against the Buckeyes 3-1, outscoring the Buckeyes 17-5. Ohio State allowed 97 goals against during the regular season, tied for the second-worst mark in the country.

Day two of the tournament will consist of the two semifinal games between No 1 Wisconsin and the winner of Notre Dame and Penn State. Regardless of who wins that game, Wisconsin will be heavily favored in their semifinal game. The Badgers come into the tournament with the only offense in the country to score over 100 goals during the regular season. As well as a power play that is converting 31.82% of their chances—the only team in the country with a power play conversion rate over 30 percent.

The other semifinal game will be between the winner of the MSU vs. Minnesota game and the Ohio State vs. Michigan rivalry contest. 

The championship game will feature the two winners of the semifinal games and will be played at 8 p.m. on Tuesday night. The winner of the tournament will get an automatic bid to the 16-team NCAA Division I men’s hockey tournament. 

Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin are all likely at-large bids to make the NCAA tournament even if they don’t win the conference tournament.