Big Ten baseball tourney expands to eight teams
For the first time the Big Ten Baseball Tournament will feature eight teams starting this season when the tourney is in Nebraska. The games will be played at May 21 to 25 at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, the same field that hosts the College World Series.
The tournament’s double-elimination format ends with a single championship game on Sunday, with the winner earning the tournament title and the conference’s automatic berth to the NCAA Championship. All eight teams will begin play in one of two brackets, with the No. 1, No. 4, No. 5 and No. 8 seeds appearing in one bracket and the No. 2, No. 3, No. 6 and No. 7 seeds appearing in the other bracket.
That means there will be four games on Wednesday and Thursday and then two games on Friday. On Saturday the winners of each bracket face the remaining one-loss team from the opposite bracket in the semifinals. As many as four games are scheduled for Saturday, with the chance for two “if necessary” games to be played to determine Sunday’s championship game participants.
The Big Ten Baseball Tournament has been played annually since 1981, with a four-team field through 1999 and a six-team event from 2000-2013. Six different schools have won the Big Ten Baseball Tournament, with Minnesota leading all conference programs with nine titles. Michigan and Ohio State have each won eight conference tournaments, followed by Illinois with four tournament crowns, Indiana with three and Purdue with one.
Opening day of the 2014 Big Ten baseball season is Friday, Feb. 14.