BTN's Danan Hughes previews Big Ten baseball tournament
The 2016 Big Ten Baseball Tournament starts Wednesday morning at TD Ameritrade Park, home of the College World Series.
The eight-team, double-elimination field includes up to 15 games, culminating with the final Sunday afternoon. View the full tournament bracket.
Before No. 3 Indiana and No. 6 Maryland get things started at 10 a.m. ET Wednesday, we caught up with BTN analyst and former Iowa two-sport star Danan Hughes.
BTN.com: Which team enters the event with the most momentum?
DH: That would have to be Nebraska. It ended the season with a sweep of a very good Hoosier team and catapulting to the No. 2 seed is incredible!
BTN.com: The last time the tournament was played in Omaha, Kyle Schwarber starred before going No. 4 in the MLB draft. Who are a couple of the best MLB draft eligible players we’ll see this week?
DH: Not sure if there’s a guy with that type of star power, with the ability to make a meteoric rise like Schwarber, but guys to keep an eye on would be: Ryan Boldt (Nebraska.), Mike Shawaryn (Maryland), Carmen Benedetti (Michigan), Jordan Zimmerman & Dan Durkin (Michigan State), Austin Athmann (Minnesota) and Joel Booker (Iowa), just to name a few.
BTN.com: The way the regular season standings played out near the top, do you expect a lot of close games?
DH: Absolutely. There is a lot of parity in the Big Ten this year. Starting pitching will tell the tale.
BTN.com: Toughest out (hitter) among the eight teams?
DH: Tough call, but I’d say Jordan Zimmerman or Carmen Benedetti. Although Jake Bivens & Ryan Boldt can be tough, too. There are a bunch who could definitely make this list. Tough.
BTN.com: Which pitcher is the last one you’d want to face?
DH: Although Dakota Mekkes (Michigan State) has had an outstanding year, I’d lean toward Shawaryn.
BTN.com: Position player most likely to make a couple #BTNStandout plays?
DH: Iowa SS Nick Roscetti could be your guy for those gems! Excellent on “D.”
BTN.com: With thunderstorms expected in Omaha, how could it change the way coaches use their staffs?
DH: Definitely makes it tricky. The concern is, when delays could come, do you start and possibly waste your starter with the possibility of him only going a short amount? That’s a dilemma all the coaches have to deal with. But, to me, live with the plan and rotation you prepare with. Control what you can control and let the chips fall!
BTN.com: Team best suited to make a trip back to Omaha for the College World Series?
DH: Michigan seems to be the strongest throughout the lineup, so if my arm was twisted, I may have to lean its way. Go figure, an Iowa guy picking Michigan. They may revoke my Hawkeye card in Iowa City!