The Big Ten Baseball Tournament takes the top eight teams. Rutgers is currently in 11th place, three games out of the eighth seed. Which sounds pretty daunting, until you look at the overall standings. And this weekend's pairings which start the final series for the conference teams.
Rutgers is looking for a winning season, which they can get by taking two of the three games against Northwestern, beginning today at Bainton Field at 1:00 pm. And you can see how the Wildcats have done this season. Winning all three, though, puts the Knights into the mix for a playoff spot. Everybody got their abacus out?
Maryland - which Rutgers beat two out of three - plays at Michigan State. RU can't catch the Spartans, so everybody wear green, at least for your underwear.
Iowa is at Penn State. Again, Rutgers took two of three from the Lions, so an Iowa sweep, or at least a series win, puts the Haweyes ahead of PSU. But may not help the Knights.
Michigan plays at Illinois. Rutgers can't catch Michigan, and Illinois is one of the teams blocking the Knights' path to a tourney spot. Swallow hard and start singing "Hail to the Victors".
The other two series, Ohio State at Minnesota and Indiana at Nebraska, don't have much bearing on Rutgers' chances. Those four teams are pretty much locked in to the tournament.
Scouting the Series
RU opens the series with the Wildcats with its ace, Howie Brey, on the mound. Brey will make his final start on the Bainton Field mound Thursday, as he is pitching to a 0.84 ERA with three earned runs allowed over 32 innings at home this season. The left-hander leads the Big Ten with 93.2 innings worked overall and is fifth with 78 strikeouts. He threw his fourth complete game in conference play last time out at Maryland with a career-high 10 strikeouts. Coach Joe Litterio needs Brey to run true to form to get that first win in the series to give the Knights hope for Friday and Saturday. The Scarlet Knights have won six of their last seven series openers.
The Wildcats are coming off a four game home sweep by California, and have lost 11 of their last 14 games. Since April 1, Rutgers has won three Big Ten series (Indiana, Penn State, and Maryland) and is 15-4 this season at home.
Matt Hopfner leads the NU offense with a .360 batting average, while Joe Hoscheit has hit seven home runs and knocked in 30. Left-hander Reed Mason, today's likely starter, has a 4.15 ERA as the first pitcher in the starting rotation. The team is hitting .256 overall with a 6.31 ERA.
|5/19/16||vs. Northwestern||Bainton Field||1:00 p.m. ET|
|5/20/16||vs. Northwestern||Bainton Field||1:00 p.m. ET|
|5/21/16||vs. Northwestern||Bainton Field||1:00 p.m. ET|
On the Banks will provide updated coverage as games are played and the postseason picture comes into focus for the Knights.
Big Ten Tournament Info
The 35th annual Big Ten Baseball Tournament will be held at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha from May 25-29, 2016. The tournament bracket, which consists of the top eight teams by order of conference winning percentage, will be announced on Saturday, May 21, which is the final scheduled day of regular-season competition. The Big Ten Baseball Tournament is a double-elimination event. The Big Ten Champion is the team or teams that finish atop the regular-season standings, while the Big Ten Tournament Champion receives the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Championship.