Michigan remains the sole Big Ten team ranked in all polls. Look at the Wolverines’ record in their last 10 games. Despite that, Michigan State remains the highest rated Big Ten team in terms of RPI as Sparty is at 16, while Michigan is at 39. Indiana actually has a higher ranking in RPI, as the Hoosiers stand at 31.
The Big Ten baseball conference season begins this weekend!
So the games will start to count... kind of, I mean, who hasn’t been counting up until this point?
Michigan @ Maryland
Pretty huge series to begin the year for both teams, as Maryland was selected as the 2017 preseason conference favorite, with Michigan second. Michigan is leading the conference in team pitching with a collective ERA of 3.22.
Statistically, Michigan ranks among some of the best teams in the country so far this season. Going into the week, the Wolverines ranked tied for fifth in the country with 43 stolen bases on the season and ranked 24th in Division I with 105 walks. At the conference level, the Wolverines lead the Big Ten in stolen bases and earned run average (3.22), while ranking second in fielding percentage (.982), third triples (6) and fourth in home runs (18).
Also note that Michigan head coach Erik Bakich came from Maryland, where he was head coach from 2010-2012, a fairly short stint for a head baseball coach. Read through this, and you might get the idea that Michigan has owned Maryland lately.
Saturday’s game is on BTN at 7:00 pm.
Minnesota @ Ohio State
First time in five years the Gophers have gone to Columbus. Ohio State was last year’s Big Ten tournament champ while Minnesota was the regular season winner. Despite the mediocre record, Minnesota leads the conference in defense while committing only 12 errors, while Ohio State is second to last, having committed 30.
Ohio State will be changing their pitching rotation as starter Adam Niemeyer is out with an elbow injury.
Also note this about this weekend in Columbus:
ZACH FARMER MEMORIAL GAME
The Zach Farmer Memorial Game will be on Saturday in game two vs. the Golden Gophers. In the summer of 2015, the Buckeyes lost their teammate and friend Zach Farmer after his battle with leukemia. During his fight, Zach helped raise awareness for the bone marrow registry through Be The Match, starting a campus drive with help from his Buckeye teammates. The organization provides marrow transplants in the United States from volunteer unrelated donors to leukemia patients. Last May, Minnesota’s pitching coach Todd Oakes passed away after a courageous battle with acute myeloid leukemia. Oakes spent 18 years with the Maroon and Gold. On Saturday, the two teams will honor both Farmer and Oakes.
Purdue @ Iowa
Iowa is still struggling to find a starting pitching line up while the Boilermakers are seeing a resurgence under new head coach Mark Wasikowski, having won six straight games and already surpassing their win total from last year when they went 10-44 on the season. The Boilers are second in the Big Ten in batting average (.281)
It is Purdue’s first visit to Iowa since 2012, and oddly enough, Purdue is the only Big Ten team that has yet to play a home game.
Purdue enters Big Ten play having won six straight games and now leads the league in runs scored, doubles, total bases, hit by pitch, sacrifice bunts and sacrifice flies.
Egad. Purdue keeps this up, and they might be the dark horse of the season.
Michigan State @ Illinois
These two teams will play a doubleheader today.
Michigan State leads the conference in batting average at .304, the only team over .300. This matches up very well for the Spartans as Illinois is second to last in team pitching with an overall ERA of 6.40.
Here’s a bright spot for Illinois - • Illinois has already hit 19 home runs in 2017 after hitting 27 in all of 2016.
I fully expect Sparty to blast Illinois this weekend.
Indiana @ Northwestern
Northwestern’s has a record of 5-13 and their Iterative Strength Rating is at 271 per Boyds. Compare that to an ISR of 50 for Indiana. Indiana is fourth in the conference in team pitching with a collective ERA of 3.78. Northwestern is second to last in team batting at .234.
I hate writing about Northwestern baseball, honestly. They always seem to be in the same place, along with Penn State - like they have baseball programs because they have to.
Columbia @ Penn State
Columbia is 1-11 with a Iterative Strength Rating of 250 (Boyds). That’s all you need to know or care about this series.
USC Upstate @ Rutgers
I have never heard of USC Upstate... but they exist, I think more commonly known as South Carolina Upstate. They’re a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference, have a 12-11 record, and a RPI of 243.
Nebraska @ Cal Poly
Wisconsin does not have a baseball team.