Baseball Race Heads Into Last Weekend

BTN will televise four conference baseball matchups over the next three days, with each game playing a large role in determining postseason seeding. Following the Ohio State at Indiana game on Saturday, Mike Hall, Cal Eldred and Tammy Williams will have highlights and analysis of the day’s baseball games, and break down the NCAA Softball Tournament on B1G Diamond Report. And the baseball blog at BigTen.org has game-by-game previews, too.

[Find complete info on the Big Ten Baseball Tournament at BigTen.org.]

Purdue clinched a share of the Big Ten baseball title last weekend, its first conference championship since 1909. The Boilermakers also have secured a spot in the 2012 Big Ten Baseball Tournament May 23-26 at Huntington Park in Columbus, Ohio. The other five spots remain up for grabs heading into the final weekend of the regular season.

[Track all games live on the national baseball scoreboard.]

Here are the standings as of Thursday afternoon, but you can track it at BigTen.org.

Big Ten Overall
Team Record Pct. Record Pct.
1.  Purdue 16-5 .762 40-10 .800
2.  Penn State 13-8 .619 27-24 .529
    Indiana 13-8 .619 27-26 .509
4.  Michigan State 12-9 .571 34-17 .667
    Nebraska 12-9 .571 32-20 .615
6.  Ohio State 11-10 .524 31-22 .585
7.  Minnesota 10-11 .476 28-25 .528
8.  Illinois 9-12 .429 26-24 .520
9.  Iowa 8-13 .381 21-26 .447
10. Michigan 7-14 .333 21-32 .396
11. Northwestern 6-18 .250 17-34 .333

Tonight at 7:30 p.m. ET, Minnesota takes on Illinois in Champaign. The Gophers were in the thick of the race for a tournament bid before being swept in three straight at Nebraska last weekend. One game behind Minnesota in the standings are the Illini, who have also struggled down the stretch. Illinois has now lost 6-of-7, including all three last weekend at Penn State.

Friday night’s game features first-place Purdue at Iowa, with first pitch scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET. Needing only one more win to claim the Big Ten title outright, Purdue may enter Friday’s game having already clinched. Nonetheless, the Boilermakers look to continue building momentum and finish strong. They enter today’s matchup having won 6-of-7. Despite a large number of close games, the Hawkeyes have dropped six straight conference series.

Saturday’s doubleheader begins at noon ET with Penn State at Michigan State. Separated by only one game, the Nittany Lions and Spartans are currently in second and fourth, respectively. Both teams have their eyes set on the first-round bye that comes with earning the tournament’s No. 2 seed. Penn State has struggled all season to win on the road, while Michigan State is 14-5 at home.

At 3 p.m. ET, Ohio State and Indiana take the field in Bloomington. If postseason play began today, the Buckeyes would earn the sixth and final bid, but the second-place Hoosiers have won three straight. It’s important to note that in the case of a four-way tie at season’s end, Indiana holds the tiebreaker over Michigan State and Nebraska, but not over Penn State.

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