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Big Ten Baseball Weekend Preview!

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What’s happening this weekend!!!!

Michigan remains as the only Big Ten team ranked in every poll, although Maryland shows up in every poll except D1baseball.com. Michigan’s highest ranking is #17 in D1baseball.com. The Terps are in the Top 25 of Baseball America at #23 and in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll at #25, and at #24 in the NCBWA.

Look at the cluster of teams just behind Nebraska. Yowsa!

Big Ten Baseball RPIs

Big Ten Baseball RPIs - May 4th, 2017

Team RPI Last Week
Team RPI Last Week
Maryland 20 21
Indiana 25 26
Michigan 31 28
Nebraska 44 38
Michigan State 82 82
Rutgers 84 105
Minnesota 85 63
Purdue 94 119
Iowa 102 102
Illinois 134 170
Ohio State 157 164
Penn State 213 209
Northwestern 240 246

Series

Rutgers at Nebraska

As Keith wrote yesterday, Nebraska’s schedule is pretty favorable from here on out in terms of wins, but not in terms of RPI strength. It’s just a matter of the Huskers keeping their brains screwed on straight and not taking anyone for granted (still remembering that damned Iowa series loss).

Ohio State scored eight runs in the eighth inning in the rubber match last week, bringing the tying run to the plate before Nebraska finally pulled their heads out. It’s that kind of stuff that makes one wonder whether they’ll grit out a lot of wins against teams they should potentially sweep for the rest of their schedule, or end up with a damaging series loss because they’re not mentally ready to win.

Ohio State at Michigan

The Buckeyes played top-ranked Texas Tech close mid-week, but came away with a 5-3 loss.

Michigan still leads the Big Ten in all three categories of team stats, batting at .298, pitching with a 3.40 ERA, and fielding at .984, having committed a league-low 25 errors. Ako Thomas leads the conference in batting average at .371, 36 runs, and 20 RBIs. From OSU’s Notes about Michigan:

Michigan leads the Big Ten in multiple statistical categories, including batting average (.298), on-base percentage (.397), runs scored (308), hits (437), walks (209), stolen bases (94), ERA (3.40), opposing batting average (.225) and strikeouts (402). Seven Wolverine hitters are above the .300 mark heading into the weekend. Johnny Slater is batting .313 with 36 runs scored, nine doubles, four triples, three home runs, 37 RBI and 11 steals. On the mound, Oliver Jaskie is 5-2 with a 3.77 ERA with 78 strikeouts in 59.2 innings pitched.

Ohio State, on the other hand, is 11th in team batting at .249, ninth in team pitching at 5.12, and 11th in team fielding having committed 59 errors. Dominic Canzone is fifth in the league in hitting (.351).

Maybe the Buckeyes can pull it together against a rival, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Maryland at Illinois

An interesting series. Illinois has won two of their last three conference series, but they need to win more if they’re going to make the Big Ten tourney because right now they’re out.

Check these out from Illinois notes:

324 2/3 of Illinois' 369 2/3 innings pitched have been by freshmen or sophomores (87.8%). 267 of Illinois' 376 hits have been by freshmen or sophomores (71.0%).

Maryland's pitching staff has led the team to 30 wins, as all three in the weekend rotation have 11+ starts and ERAs under 4.00. Brian Shaffer is a Big Ten Pitcher of the Year candidate with a 5-2 record, 1.73 ERA and 75 strikeouts in 73 innings. The Terps are third in team pitching with a 3.67 ERA.

Iowa at Michigan State

Iowa has won five of its last season Big Ten series going back to 2016. One of those series losses came last week against RUTGERS! HAHAHAHAA. I don’t know why I’m laughing when friggin’ Iowa beat Nebraska in the series in Lincoln, but what the hell. Series wins for Iowa this season have come against Purdue, Northwestern, Nebraska, and Penn State - other than Nebraska, not exactly a murderer’s row of opponents.

From Iowa notes:

The Hawkeyes rank in the top five in the Big Ten in nine different offensive categories, including ranking second in slugging percentage (.434) and doubles (83), third in hits (415), RBIs (239) and total bases (635), fourth in home runs (41), runs (258), batting average (.284), and on-base percentage (.373).

The Spartans are third in team batting at .286, fourth in team pitching with a 3.68 ERA, but eighth in team fielding at .969, having committed 47 errors, but having turned 41 double plays.

It’d be nice to see Iowa drop a series here. They’re Iowa, for crying out loud. Come on, Sparty, get your crap together.

Minnesota at Penn State

Minnesota is right up there in the cluster of teams right behind Nebraska. They got good news this week when it was announced that they would make up at least a double header of their previously cancelled games against Rutgers.

The Gophers should pick up wins against Penn State and against Rutgers, but the wins against Penn State probably won’t help their RPI. The Gophers are second in team batting at .291, fifth in team pitching at 3.68, and second in team fielding at .980, having turned 41 double plays while committing only 31 errors.

And Penn State is bloody awful at baseball.

Northwestern at Purdue

Purdue is another in that group of teams behind Nebraska. They should pick up a series win at least against Northwestern, which will keep them in place for a Big Ten tourney bid.

Notes!

The Boilermakers enter the weekend riding a seven-game win streak, which ranks as the third longest active run in the nation. Purdue has won each of the first six games of its current homestand, good for the program’s longest home win streak since winning seven straight at Lambert Field in April 2010.

CHECK THIS OUT FOR FRIDAY’S GAME:

Come celebrate Purdue Pete's 60th birthday! Fans can take photos with Purdue Pete. The first 500 fans get a 1960s Purdue Pete bobblehead.

Xavier at Indiana

Xavier is 25-18 overall, and 7-3 in the Big East.

Notes!

Through the first 43 games, Indiana has posted a .980 fielding percentage, ranking fourth in the Big Ten and 18th nationally. If the season were to end at 43 games, the .980 mark would set a new Indiana program record.

Sophomore Matt Lloyd is third in the Big Ten in slugging percentage (.608), tied for sixth in home runs (9) and 10th in on base percentage (.422).

Wisconsin does not have a baseball team.