After a stunning sweep over the No. 2 seeded The Ohio State University Buckeyes (11-5, 11-9-4 Big Ten). This past weekend, the No. 7 seeded University of Wisconsin men’s hockey team (14-18-2, 7-15-2-2) is set to face off against the Buckeyes yet again, this time in a best of three series with their season on the line.

After dropping five straight games and looking like they were simply going to roll over and let their season end without putting up a fight, the Badgers finished their season off winning five of six games — all against teams ranked within the USCHO.com Poll. Though this year’s Badger team was once considered title contenders before falling apart in conference play and finishing in last place in the Big Ten, a fire has been lit underneath the team who look to upset the Buckeyes once more.

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Led by freshman Cole Caufield — who ended the season as Wisconsin’s first outright Big Ten scoring champion in 51 seasons with 24 points — the Badgers will look to continue their hot streak and complete yet another upset.

Historically, the Big Ten postseason is rather unkind to the last placed team. In the past six seasons of postseason play, the seven seed is 1-8 in these games. Across all of college hockey in the same time period, there have been 11 instances where the first-round playoff matchup was a rematch of the final game/games of the regular season for a pair of teams. In these 11 cases, the home team won eight of them.

With history on the Buckeyes side, it is crucial the Badgers don’t look at the numbers, focus on their recent play and continue to regain healthy players to their lineup. This includes players like freshman Alex Turcotte who recently rejoined the team after a lower leg injury. Turcotte is a major playmaker for the Badgers, totaling 23 points across 25 games this season.

A major question regarding the Badger’s lineup is goalie Jack Berry’s reliability to stay healthy with extended play. Berry returned last weekend to save 22 shots in Saturday’s 3–3 overtime win after missing some time earlier in the season with a lower-body injury. Having Berry fully healthy is crucial for the playoffs, as his availability would create the possibility of rotating goalies in order to give rest to both himself and Daniel Lebedeff, who started seven straight games while Berry nursed his injury.

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The start of the three-game series starts this Friday. Puck drop is at 6 p.m. and can be viewed on the Big Ten Network and heard on WIBA radio. The second game of the series is also at 6 p.m. Saturday night, and can also be viewed on the Big Ten Network and heard on WIBA radio. If necessary, the third and final game of the series will be played Sunday night at 6 p.m. and can also be viewed on the Big Ten Network and heard on WIBA radio.

If Wisconsin is able to take two of three against OSU, they will move on to the next round of the Big Ten Playoffs, which will be against the top-seeded Penn State University Nittany Lions in a single-elimination game March 14.