Michigan remains ranked while the rest of the Big Ten is pretty much ignored. The Wolverines are all the way up to #13 from D1baseball, #18 from the NCBWA, #23 from Baseball America, and #17 in the USA Today Coaches Poll.
RPIs look like this:
- #32 Maryland
- #35 Nebraska
- #37 Indiana
- #39 Michigan
- #46 Minnesota
- #54 Michigan State
- #93 Purdue
- #95 Iowa
- #101 Rutgers
- #142 Ohio State
- #148 Illinois
- #187 Penn State
- #266 Northwestern
We're at the point of the season where you can pretty much start to predict what's going to happen in each series, and the top of the conference has separated itself from the bottom.
Minnesota @ Indiana
An interesting series. Minnesota... well, look at that win streak - 11 straight, undefeated in the conference, and probably would be 9-0 had Rutgers not cancelled their series. Now the Gophers head to Indiana, a team in the middle of the conference that doesn't want to fall too far towards the bottom.
Minnesota isn't the best at anything, fourth in team batting (.282), fourth in team pitching (3.77 ERA), and second in team fielding (.981), although they have the lowest number of errors. The Gophers are just all-around pretty decent.
Iowa @ Nebraska
There's no reason Nebraska slows down right now, not against Iowa. Despite the fact that they're 3-3 in conference, the Hawkeyes have played the 189th toughest schedule in the nation... oh, hell, read Keith’s preview, okay?
Ohio State @ Michigan State
Michigan State started the season strong, then was swept in the first series of conference play by Minnesota. At 3-3 now, they face a Buckeye team that's terrible in terms of where Buckeye teams are supposed to be. I know that long time Big Ten fans weep at reading that statement, "WHAT A LOSING BUCKEYE TEAM? OMG THAT IS SO TERRIBLE, KIND OF LIKE A BILLIONAIRE LOSING ALLA HIS FORTUNE AND GOING TO JAIL FOR FRAUD... AHAHAHAHAHA"
The Spartans are first in team batting at .298, third in team pitching with a 3.23 ERA, and eighth in fielding, having committed 36 errors. Notes: Michigan State also is third in the Big Ten in stolen bases with 55 swipes. Brandon Hughes is hitting .336 with seven doubles, four home runs, 28 RBI and 18 stolen bases. On the mound, Left-hander Alex Troop is 4-2 with a 1.69 ERA.
Ohio State is second to last in team batting at .233 (BOO HOO HOO), eighth in team pitching at 4.82 ERA (SOB SOB SOB) and third to last in fielding at .963, having committed 45 errors (second to last only to rutger) and having turned only 15 double plays (tied for worst with rutger).
The Buckeyes don't seem like a team with any confidence whatsoever. I've met Greg Beals and he is a really nice guy, but heee heeee heee haw haw haw the Buckeyes might get swept in East Lansing.
Penn State @ Maryland
A nice series for the Terps to push themselves higher in the conference standings after this weekend. Penn State is dead last in team batting (.227), ninth in team pitching (5.58) and second to last in team fielding (.963), having committed 42 errors this season.
The Terps aren't very good in anything, really, but consider that they've played Michigan and Nebraska already (along with Rutgers), and maybe their stats reflect that.
Maryland should sweep this series.
Purdue @ Rutgers
Rutgers beat 3-32 Lafayette 28-4 this week. Purdue will present a slightly different challenge. The Boilers sit at 5-4 in conference, and one should expect them to be at 8-4 after this weekend. This is a team - Purdue we're talking about - that won only TWO Big Ten games last season. Rutgers is last in team pitching (6.34), and team fielding (.952), with 52 (!) errors. They're not so bad in batting, though, sitting at sixth (.268). This is largely because of Mike Carter. From notes: Carter’s performance (going 5-for-5 in the 28 run game) bumped his Big Ten-leading batting average to .409, ahead of the second-best .376 held by Minnesota’s Luke Pettersen and rankes No. 14 in the country. He is also second in the league with a .473 on-base percentage, second with 48 hits, second with 11 doubles and seventh with a .574 slugging percentage. Seeing time at designated hitter, first base and in left field, Carter has reached base in 28-of-29 games this season.
Unfortunately, they're still Rutgers.
Purdue gets Rutgers, Illinois and Northwestern in their next three series. You think they might be near or at the top of the conference when the season rolls to the end?
Northwestern @ Illinois
Illinois is not good at baseball this season, but they get Northwestern, so it's like they get automatic wins. I just looked at the Big Ten overall statistics to find something that the Illini are good at and... nope, nada. Comparing them to Northwestern... they're even worse, second to last in the conference in team pitching with a 6.23 ERA. The only thing that Illinois is better at than Northwestern is.. well, no, again. They're both tied in team batting at .254.
So maybe Illinois doesn't get automatic wins. Maybe Northwestern gets a win or two. Still, the Illini have won six of their last eight and took a game from Michigan in their series last weekend. Maybe Illinois gets hot and gets a sweep. BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE! Northwestern is on a four-game winning streak and has won six of their last eight games! WHO WILL WIN IN THIS BATTLE OF JUGGERNAUTS!?
I'm betting you don't care either way, do you, you heartless bastard.
Oh, then there's this:
Illinois Athletics will host "Bunny at the Ballpark" Saturday at Illinois Field. The Fighting Illini Bunny will be in attendance for pictures and more fun! Directly after the game, Illinois Athletics will invite all families to join the Bunny in an egg hunt on the field.
• The Fighting Illini Bunny will be in attendance again at Illinois Field on Sunday. The Bunny will be hosting postgame wiffle ball for all youth Illini fans.
#18 Oklahoma @ #13 Michigan
This is a nice non-conference series of ranked teams. Michigan has already won game one, 5-2. The Wolverines are second in conference in team batting at .292, first in team pitching with a 3.08 ERA, and first in team fielding with a .983 percentage.
From OU Notes about Michigan: The Wolverines also entered the week ranked fourth in the NCAA, first among Power 5 conferences, with 73 stolen bases. The offense is led by second baseman Ako Thomas, who is hitting a team-high .346 with 18 RBI, and a .465 OBP. The sophomore has also swiped 18 bases in 21 attempts for the Wolverines.
About OU: Senior catcher Renae Martinez is the Sooners top hitter with a .355 batting average and second in slugging at .561. Sophomore Brylie Ware, who splits his time between the corner infield spots and designated hitter, is second with a .348 batting average and first with a .439 on-base percentage. Sophomore outfielder Steele Walker, one of two Sooners to start all 36 games, is hitting .346 with a team-leading .574 slugging percentage. He has driven i na team-high 33 runs on 10 doubles, five home runs and three triples.
This would be an excellent series for Michigan to win on behalf of the entire conference. They’re off to a good start.
BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE
Requirement: Straight cash.
Looking at the comments (despite that adage: “DON’T LOOK AT THE COMMENTS”), it appears that Wisconsin fans may not care.
This weekend is one of the best on the college baseball calendar because a large portion of teams start their Easter weekend series on Thursday. So you see, the baseball gods are with you. They’ve granted an extra day of college baseball this weekend. Because you’ve been such a good fan.
Eric Sorenson gives you the straight poop.