Big Ten baseball starts the conference season this weekend. I thought it was about time I took a look at where the conference is overall, so here we go.
There are a lot of games being streamed on BTN Plus, the service that requires a separate subscription from, say, Dish Network. Despite that, many sites still reference BTN2Go. It would be nice if everyone would get their terminology straight.
- D1Baseball - Indiana at #11
- NCBWA - Indiana at #15
- Baseball America - Indiana at #19, Illinois at #24
- USA Today Coaches Poll - Indiana at #16
This weekend’s Big Ten Baseball Schedule
I’ll be completely honest. Most of the info below is from game notes from each team’s athletic departments. It’s cut and paste because I am lazy. I do tend to avoid things that are just meant to gloss over a program, however.
Illinois at Northwestern
The Illini are looking to win their seventh straight series against Northwestern dating back to 2011. The Illini are one of the hottest teams in the nation offensively thanks to Bren Spillane, perhaps the hottest hitter in the NCAA. Spillane has hit .647 (11-17) in the last four games, including five homers, three doubles, 14 RBIs, 29 total bases, a .684 on-base percentage and a 1.706 slugging percentage.
That’s pretty much what you need to know about that series.
Indiana at Iowa
Check this out: Iowa has used the same starting weekend rotation in each of the first five weeks of the season. The trio of Nick Allgeyer, Brady Schanuel, and Cole McDonald are a combined 6-4 with a 2.81 ERA with 69 strikeouts in 77 innings. That’s a nice situation to be in.
Offensively, Indiana is first in the Big Ten in home runs (19), second in slugging percentage (.458), third in on base percentage (.380), doubles (42) and total bases (285), fourth in batting average (.286) and hits (178) and fifth in runs (117).
Indiana pitching is first in the Big Ten in ERA (2.66, 17th nationally), fewest earned runs allowed (50), fewest runs allowed (62), shutouts (3, T-10th), fewest walks per nine innings (2.82, 16th), and strikeout-to-walk ratio (2.85, 33rd), is tied for third in strikeouts (151), and tied for fifth in opposing batting average (.254).
Maryland vs Stetson
Stetson travels to Maryland after playing 21 straight games at home because that’s what you can do if you’re in the South. Check out this bit from their game preview:
The Hatters landed in Baltimore to a landscape some on the players had never seen – an ocean of white from a snow storm that dumped six to 12 inches of heavy, wet snow on the mid-Atlantic region on Wednesday. By the time the team arrived at the University of Maryland for a planned work out, the baseball field had been almost completely cleared by workers with snow plows and front-end loaders, but that didn’t stop the Hatters from having some fun.
The Stetson players got in a bit of a workout before turning their attention back to the cold white stuff covering the field at the football stadium. A snowball battle ensued and, once that was over, there was some team building as the players worked together to build a snowman.
Stetson’s nickname is the “Mad Hatters”. The Hatters are 18-3 on the year, matching the start of the 2002 club, which is the best 21-game start in program history.
How bout this?
In addition to having the best overall team ERA in the nation at 1.89, the Hatters also have the best bull pen ERA in the country at 1.54. Stetson relievers have allowed just a .132 batting average this year in 70 innings of work.
Michigan vs Michigan State
It’s important to know that Michigan lost a ton of players last season, 11 to the MLB draft, so they are playing a lot of newcomers. This series is a home-and-home series, meaning they’ll play game one at Ann Arbor, then next at East Lansing, then back to Ann Arbor to finish the series.
The Wolverines are 9-11 overall entering this weekend’s Big Ten opener, winning their last five games after dropping the previous three and 10 of 12. Eight of MSU’s first 19 games of the 2018 season have been 1-run games, with the Spartans posting a 2-6 mark in those seven 1-run contests, as well as four other 2-run games, which MSU is 1-3.
Minnesota at Nebraska
Creighton took a series against Minnesota last week, winning the first two games, 7-3, each, then Minnesota walloped them on Sunday, 15-1. Then last weekend Minnesota takes a series from then #9 TCU.
This is a big series to start the season for Nebraska. They are down four pitchers due to elbow injuries, and it shows. Minnesota leads the conference in batting average at .308, is second in team pitching with a 3.42 ERA, and second in fielding at .978. Nebraska is eighth in team batting at .266, ninth in team pitching at 5.01 (ouch!) and fifth in team fielding at .968.
Ohio State vs Georgetown
Georgetown is 5-14. Their RPI is 289. Ohio State went 11-6 to begin the 2018 campaign, playing all 17 games away from Columbus.
Ohio State ranks first in the Big Ten in double plays (20), second in hits (210), batting average (.294), home runs (18), runs (149), on-base percentage (.382), scoring (7.5) and third in walks (93).
Penn State at Rutgers
Every season I get disgusted during the season and refuse to say anything about Penn State’s baseball program. LOOK - THEIR RPI IS 249 and their strength of schedule (Warren Nolan) is 268. They don’t give a damn about their baseball program or the conference it plays in.
Rutgers, OTOH, might be a decent baseball team.
Purdue vs Lipscomb
This is Purdue’s home opening weekend. The teams will play a doubleheader Friday, then a single game Sunday as Saturday it is supposed to snow. Purdue was 8-1 to start the season, but have dropped eight of their last nine games.
Lipscomb has already beaten Michigan in a series this season. Their record is 9-12 and their RPI is 236.
Big Ten Baseball RPIs