Teams are listed in projected order of finish:

Michigan (7-2-2): The Wolverines lost a key young talent when Dylan Larkin left after his freshman season, but the remaining group has picked up the slack. They’re coming off a split at No. 11 Boston University and own the Big Ten’s highest national ranking at No. 12.

Penn State (8-2-3): The Nittany Lions showed they could compete with the best in college hockey last season and in Year 4 of the Division I program are positioned to make a run for a conference championship. They have quality victories over Vermont and ranked Notre Dame and St. Lawrence.

Michigan State: (4-7-2): The Spartans are 0-4-1 over the past five games, all vs. ranked opponents. They are accustomed to turning things around in conference play and are backed by the reigning Big Ten Player of the Year, goalie Jake Hildebrand.

Gophers (4-7): The Gophers are two-time regular-season champions but will likely struggle to make it three in a row. Coach Don Lucia is hopeful that the challenging nonconference schedule has prepared his team for conference play, but expect the growing pains to continue.

Wisconsin (3-5-4): The Badgers are coming off one of the worst seasons in program history and have gotten off to another slow start. However, they do have a road victory over No. 4 North Dakota. Wisconsin could surprise and climb to the top half of the standings.

Ohio State (3-9): The Buckeyes have shown spurts of success over the past two seasons and can be a dangerous heading into the conference tournament. Like the Gophers, though, they’re young and struggled through the first two months of the season.

JASON GONZALEZ