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Big Ten CommunicationsPublished: 2/29/2024, Last updated: 3/1/2024
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Week 20 Hockey Release

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• The Big Ten Championship will be decided on the final weekend of the regular season as first-place Michigan State travels to second-place Wisconsin with just two points separating the teams. No. 6/6 Michigan State can clinch the championship outright with three points, which can happen as early as Friday. No. 4/5 Wisconsin can clinch outright with at least five points, which can only occur on Saturday. The teams will share the title if Wisconsin gets four points and Michigan earns two points, which can only happen on Saturday. In the Big Ten, three points are awarded for a regulation win, two points for an overtime win or shootout “win” and one point for an overtime or shootout “loss”. There are no points for a regulation loss. Michigan State swept Wisconsin by the scores of 4-2 and 3-2 during a Nov. 17-18 series in East Lansing when the Badgers were the consensus No. 1 in the national polls. Both programs have reversed their fortunes from a year ago when Michigan State tied for fifth place in the Big Ten standings and Wisconsin finished seventh. MSU was picked third and Wisconsin fifth in the Big Ten Preseason Coaches Poll.

• The MSU-UW series will signify the first time the Big Ten Championship has been determined in a head-to-head series. It will also mark the eighth time in 11 years the league title has been decided on the last weekend of the season. On five occasions the trophy has been captured on the last day of the season (most recently by Minnesota in 2022). Michigan State is looking to claim its first championship while Wisconsin aims for its second title, having previously won in 2021. In the event there are co-champions, MSU would earn the No. 1 seed for the upcoming Big Ten Tournament based on head-to-head results. 

• Top 20 teams clash when No. 8/8 Minnesota plays host to No. 16/16 Michigan on Friday and Saturday. The teams met in mid-November with Minnesota taking four points via a regulation win and overtime tie. Both teams will have home ice for the Big Ten Quarterfinals as they battle for the No. 3 seed. The Big Ten Network will carry both games from Minneapolis. The third conference series of the weekend involves Penn State taking on Ohio State in Columbus. The Nittany Lions swept a January series from the Buckeyes with a pair of one-goal decisions. Penn State is locked into a sixth seed and Ohio State will be the seventh seed for the Big Ten Tournament. Notre Dame, which is idle, is slotted as the fifth seed. All three teams will travel next week when the postseason begins.

• Penn State junior Dylan Lugris has been named one of five finalists for the 2024 Hockey Humanitarian Award, presently annually to college hockey’s finest citizen for leadership in community service. With the assistance of teammates, Lugris has organized the charitable Penn State Sled Hockey Classic between the State College Coyotes and the Nittany Lions at Pegula Ice Arena. Lugris has helped increase exposure for the Coyotes — who have doubled in roster size and joined a league — by donating nearly $50,000 to the sled hockey organization. The 29th Hockey Humanitarian Award winner will be announced on April 12 during the NCAA Frozen Four in St. Paul, Minn.