(Photo Credit: GoCreighton.com)
This past weekend, No. 21 Indiana (36-19, 17-7 B1G) swept the Rutgers Scarlet Knights to win its seventh Big Ten regular season championship. They have unfinished business as they head into Omaha, NE at TD Ameritrade Park for the Big Ten Tournament.
The action for the annual tournament begins May 22 at 10AM EST with No. 3 Illinois opening against No. 6 Maryland. Fresh off of Big Ten accolades including Jeff Mercer named as Big Ten Coach of the Year and Andrew Saalfrank named as Big Ten Pitcher of the Year, a rolling Hoosiers team will play the No. 8 seeded Iowa Hawkeyes at 6PM EST
Last year’s tournament champion Minnesota matches up against a Cornhusker team that will be benefited by a home crowd at TD Ameritrade Park. Omaha is less than an hour’s drive away from Lincoln, Nebraska.
The Hoosiers have played the Hawkeyes for a three-game series this season already. Over the home series, Indiana outscored the Hawkeyes heavily 23-4, but their first game was a low-scoring grind the Hoosiers won 3-2. Indiana should feel confident heading in to the series in Omaha with their current offensive firepower and reliable pitching rotation.
The Hawkeyes have struggled down the stretch. To close the season, they lost their last 5 contests, 2 of which were at home against a lackluster Michigan State team that ended 20-34, 8-15 B1G. In order to stand a chance against the Hoosiers, the Hawkeyes will need a lot of answers and quickly especially when it comes to their offensive production. Otherwise, they will not be able to keep up with the red-hot Hoosiers.
The starting pitcher has not been announced for Wednesday, but assuming the Hoosiers rely on their same three-man rotation, Pauly Milto will be the first up to the mound. The senior RHP has faced the Hawkeyes earlier this season with a solid victory over 8.1 IP, but allowing 7 hits and 1 ER. Pauly will be seeking his 9th win of the season.
The Hoosiers may be the favorites in the early rounds, but this year’s powerhouse teams including Michigan and Illinois will put Indiana’s pitching and hitting to the test. Fortunately, the earliest they would meet up would be the finals.
All games will be televised on BTN live throughout the tournament.
What’s at stake for Indiana baseball?
Based on the latest NCAA tournament bracket projections, the Hoosiers are projected as a #2 seed in respective regionals as it currently stands. That means, the Hoosiers are just one seed line off from potentially being one of 16 host sites. The top 16 seeded teams typically are selected as host sites for the NCAA baseball tournament, which kicks off shortly after the conclusion of this week’s Big Ten tournament. If the Hoosiers make a deep run, they will have an outside chance of potentially being a host site. Of course, teams selected to host the regionals have a significant advantage for the double-elimination first round.
The Hoosiers in the Big Ten Tournament
The Hoosiers are aiming to win their 5th conference tournament in program history and first crown in five years. In 2017, the Hoosiers hosted the Big Ten Baseball Tournament in Bloomington, Indiana, but Iowa took the championship.
Unlike basketball, the baseball team has had significantly more success in the Big Ten Tournament. They are tied for fourth for the most tournament tiles. Minnesota leads all teams with ten tournament championships.
Indiana Hoosiers Big Ten Baseball Tournament Championships
- 1996 Tournament (MVP: Dan Ferrell, Indiana)
- 2009 Tournament (MVP: Matt Bashore, Indiana)
- 2013 Tournament (MVP: Sam Travis, Indiana)
- 2014 Tournament (MVP: Kyle Schwarber, Indiana)