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Corn Flakes: Nebraska Baseball Faces Illinois - What Are Erstad's Boys Made Of?

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David McGee

Today marks the start of the last Nebraska baseball series of the 2015 season.

Nebraska needs a win against Illinois to seal their bid to the Big Ten tournament in Minneapolis... OR... Minnesota and Penn State need to lose a game. There's a pretty good probability both those teams will lose at least one game (check schedule below), but backing into the tournament isn't exactly confidence-inspring.

Illinois' win streak is at 24. If they sweep Nebraska, they will overtake Nebraska's win streak of 26 back which occurred back in 1983. The Huskers have won each of the first three series between the two teams, including a 2-1 series win in Champaign in 2013.

Illinois is in the Top Five in every poll this week; No. 3 by Perfect Game, No. 4 by Baseball America and No. 5 in the USA TODAY Coaches Poll, on D1Baseball.com, and by the NCBWA.

Illinois will win the Big Ten regular season with two wins over Nebraska, a win over Nebraska and a loss by Iowa, or two losses by Iowa.

And because you need a reason to feel even better about Nebraska's chances, from the Illinois' notes comes these bits of interest:

  • UI sits in the Top 5 in the nation in four pitching categories: No. 3 in walks allowed per nine innings (2.03) and WHIP (1.10) and No. 5 in ERA (2.48) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.67).
  • The Illini also rank fourth in the country with 3.2 runs allowed per game and a +3.7 scoring margin.

Thursday Starters

  • ILL:Jr. LHP Kevin Duchene (9-1, 0.95 ERA)
  • NEB: Sr. RHP Chance Sinclair (6-6, 2.78 ERA)

Friday Starters

  • ILL: r-Sr. RHP Drasen Johnson (8-2, 2.20 ERA)
  • NEB: Sr. LHP Kyle Kubat (4-4, 2.62 ERA)

Saturday Starters

  • ILL: Sr. RHP John Kravetz (4-0, 3.76 ERA)
  • NEB: So. RHP Derek Burkamper (5-3, 3.84 ERA)
  • Big Ten Schedule

All times (Eastern) and dates subject to change

Thursday, May 14

  • Iowa at Rutgers - 3 p.m.
  • Maryland at Northwestern - 4 p.m.
  • Penn State at Purdue - 5 p.m.
  • Oklahoma State at Michigan - 6 p.m.
  • Nebraska at Illinois - 7:05 p.m.
  • Michigan State at Minnesota - 7:35 p.m.
  • Ohio State at Indiana - 8 p.m.

Friday, May 15

  • Iowa at Rutgers - 1 p.m.
  • Maryland at Northwestern - 4 p.m.
  • Oklahoma State at Michigan - 6 p.m.
  • Penn State at Purdue - 6:30 p.m.
  • Ohio State at Indiana - 6:35 p.m.
  • Michigan State at Minnesota - 7:05 p.m.
  • Nebraska at Illinois - 7:05 p.m.

Saturday, May 16

  • Iowa at Rutgers - 11 a.m.
  • Oklahoma State at Michigan - 12 p.m.
  • Penn State at Purdue - 1 p.m.
  • Ohio State at Indiana - 1:05 p.m.
  • Maryland at Northwestern - 2 p.m.
  • Michigan State at Minnesota - 2:05 p.m.
  • Nebraska at Illinois - 2:05 p.m.
Final Week Big Ten Baseball Standings

Final Week Big Ten Baseball Standings

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A lay of the land

"One by one and we scheduled them in, 15 minute slots, and it takes a whole week to get those guys in," Riley said. "Because I didn’t get to recruit them and we’re new to them and they’re new to us. I wasn’t in the home with their families and I don’t know the backgrounds, so I asked them to give me a brief history of who they are and talk about their families."