Even though it's early in the season, there are some fairly important Big Ten baseball series coming up this weekend. Here they are, ranked in order of importance:
Ohio State at Nebraska - most interesting
Indiana at Iowa - very interesting
Minnesota at Michigan - interesting
Penn State at Purdue - meh
Illinois at Northwestern - meh
Ohio State at Nebraska
I didn't just stick this one at the top because it's Nebraska, but, hey, whatever works.
Both teams need a conference series win this weekend. Nebraska is at 1-2, and a loss would move them to 2-4 at best. Ohio State is in worse shape at 2-4, as a series loss would set them at 3-6. A sweep by either team over the other would be nasty early in the season.
Indiana at Iowa
Iowa has been playing some darned good baseball this season. New head coach Rich Heller has something going on, and the Friday match up between LHP Joey DeNato (5-1, 2.22 ERA) and RHP Calvin Mathews (3-1, 1.91 ERA) should be very interesting. Both are amongst the top four pitchers in strikeouts, with Mathews leading the conference with 41 in 47 innings pitched.
Indiana IS the team. They're at 5-1. If Iowa can do some damage, they could pull them back into within range of wining the conference should another team (ahem, Nebraska) get hot. That's not likely, but let's see what Iowa can do.
Minnesota at Michigan
John Anderson is a damned good coach at Minnesota, and both the Gophers and Wolverines stand at 3-3 in conference play. A series loss or win here isn't a death knell for either team, but Minnesota really has to figure out what's going on if they're going to be any type of contender
Question is - will the Gophers get over that 24-2 ass-whoopin' Sparty handed to them last weekend?
Other than Illinois, the rest are the worst teams in the conference.
Check this out - from Keith Mann, Nebraska's Assistant Athletic Director for Media Relations:
Nebraska's combined 1,240,384 fans for FB, VB, MBB, WBB in '13-14 is the most of any school in the nation #Huskers— Keith Mann (@KMann_Nebraska) April 3, 2014
Nebraska is the only school in the country in '13-14 to rank in the top 15 in average attendance in FB, VB, MBB, WBB #Huskers— Keith Mann (@KMann_Nebraska) April 3, 2014
Police: Former Husker's memorabilia stolen while away in NFL : Journal Star Breaking News
A former Nebraska defensive end had more than $1,300 in Husker football equipment stolen from the trunk of his car while he was away playing for the Cleveland Browns, Lincoln
Sucks for Eric Martin to have all his stuff stolen. Then you read the single comment on the article and you have to wonder what it is with people that we all think the worst of other people?
Testudo Times Staff Roundtable: Trimble in All-Star game; Women's Final Four predictions - Testudo Times
Maryland - good at women's basketball.
NCAA finds no violation of wrongdoing following investigation of Baylor assistant | Campus Union - SI.com
Look! Baylor is good enough to warrant NCAA investigations!
Florida State Under Investigation by Feds - NYTimes.com
Florida State University is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education for possible Title IX violations in its response to sexual violence complaints.
James Franklin's talent surge meets Penn State's classic identity - SBNation.com
What happens when some of the country's most entrenched schemes get a little modernization and a major recruiting boost? The Nittany Lions are about to find out.
Welcome to the 2014 Mark Richt portrait contest - SBNation.com
The winners are you, art, Mark Richt, and your art of Mark Richt.
Could Northwestern's Push for College Football Unionization Shake Up Football in the SEC's Right-to-Work States? - Anchor Of Gold
If unionization comes to college football, the SEC - and its 11 programs in right-to-work states - could be in for some major changes. Does a pay-for-play model benefit the private schools of Division I football's power conferences?