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Big Ten Baseball Weekend Preview

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What’s happening in B1G Baseball?

Brent Fields

Michigan and Maryland are now ranked in all polls with only Baseball America ranking the Terps ahead of the Wolverines.

RPIs:

Big Ten Baseball RPIs - April 27, 2017

Team RPI
Team RPI
Maryland 21
Indiana 26
Michigan 28
Nebraska 38
Minnesota 63
Michigan State 82
Iowa 102
Rutgers 105
Purdue 119
Ohio State 164
Illinois 170
Penn State 209
Northwestern 246

This Week’s Series

Remember that only the top eight teams qualify for the Big Ten tournament, so if you’re a down team expecting magic to happen at the end of the season, you’d better be in position to get into the tournament before it’s too late.

Nebraska at Ohio State

I’ve mentioned how uncharacteristic it is for the Buckeyes to be in this position, i.e., close to the bottom of the conference. It’ll be interesting to see if Ohio State has a lot of fight left in them, and if the Huskers can continue to climb up in the conference while staying in their run for a NCAA tournament bid.

Be sure to read Keith’s series preview.

Maryland at Indiana

Indiana had a big series win at Michigan last week, and now they get to take on the best in the conference... or, at least the team that is leading the conference.

Indiana has posted a .979 fielding percentage through its first 40 games this season, ranking third in the Big Ten and 22nd nationally. The .979 mark is currently on pace for a school record. Indiana leads the Big Ten in homers with 45, but they’re ninth in team batting at .264. They’re seventh in pitching with a team ERA of 4.70.

Maryland is sixth in team batting at .277, third in pitching at 3.45, and ninth in fielding at .967, having committed 49 errors so far this season.

So why is Maryland winning so many conference games? They’ve swept Rutgers, Penn State, and Michigan State. They won their series against Michigan, but lost a series to Nebraska. Best team in conference...? Remains to be seen.

The Terps do feature the best pitcher in conference, Brian Shaffer, who currently has a 1.77 ERA (only pitcher in B1G under 2.0).

Michigan at Rutgers

Michigan rides atop the Big Ten in all three team categories - batting .297, pitching 3.24, and fielding at .984. Yet there they are, fifth in the conference.

Give Rutgers some credit... they’re in the hunt for the conference tournament. They won their series at Iowa last week, and they won their series against Nebraska in Lincoln. Mike Carter leads the B1G in batting at .391, and Rutgers is fifth in team batting at .279, dead last in pitching at 6.24, and last in team fielding at .953, having committed 68 (!!!!!) errors.

Illinois at Minnesota

Minnesota started out the season pretty hot (although against a fairly easily schedule, relative to other Big Ten teams). Then they missed the Rutgers series because rutger “couldn’t find a flight” after inclement weather cancelled their initial flight. Since then, the Gophers haven’t been so hot, having lost four of their last ten.

Minnesota is second in team batting at .291, Illinois is 10th at .257. The Gophers are fifth in team pitching at 3.93, Illinois is second to last at 5.81. Fielding - Minnesota is second at .982, and tied for least errors in conference with Michigan with 24, while Illinois is seventh at .973.

Penn State at Iowa

Penn State is bloody awful, yet Iowa managed to lose a series to Rutgers last week.

Offensively, Penn State is last in the Big Ten with a .233 team batting average. Jordan Bowersox is the only Nittany Lion regular hitting above .300. He has a .333 average with 18 RBIs. Willie Burger has a team-high four home runs and 22 RBIs.

Michigan State at Northwestern

Northwestern (16-23, 5-7) and Michigan State (21-16, 5-7) enter the series tied for ninth place in the conference standings, just a half game out of the final tournament spot. The Wildcats have won three of their last four games, while MSU has one win in its last four outings.

The Spartans were swept at Maryland over the weekend, losing Friday's opening game 12-2. After Saturday's action was rained out, MSU and UMD played a doubleheader on Sunday, with UMD winning both, 2-1 and 6-2, as the Terps took over first-place in the B1G standings and moved into the Top 25 with the wins.

Sparty needs some wins get into the conference tournament. They should come against Northwestern.

St Louis at Purdue

From Purdue’s notes:

The Boilermakers enter the weekend as the most-improved team in the country. Even with 15 regular-season games to go, Purdue's plus-13 win differential and .376 improvement in winning percentage are both tops nationally. In-state rival Butler, which visits Alexander Field on May 10, is the only other team in the country that has already won 10 more games than last season.

St Louis comes in at 24-14, going 11-13 after starting their season 13-1.

WEEKEND PROMOTIONS

  • Friday: Free pizza for Purdue students at pregame tailgate at Alexander
  • Saturday: Purdue Baseball Cards set No. 1 giveaway (first 500 fans)
  • Sunday: Bark at the Park -- bring your dog to Alexander (first 500 fans receive a Purdue dog tag)