staff, March 21, 2012

After six weeks of non-conference play, the Big Ten softball schedule opens this weekend for all 12 teams. Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio State and Purdue all host conference-opening series this weekend.

[View Big Ten standings and stats]

Entering Big Ten play, conference squads have combined for more than 30 victories against teams ranked in the top 50 of the final 2011 RPI and more than 60 triumphs against top 100 clubs. Michigan appears at No. 20 in both the NFCA and USA Softball polls, while Nebraska is receiving votes in the USA Softball rankings.

Boasting the most nationally distributed softball games of any conference, the Big Ten will feature nine games that will be streamed online at this weekend. Each game of the Wisconsin at Iowa and the Penn State at Michigan series will be carried live online, while the three-game set between Michigan State and Purdue will be available on a delayed basis on The nine games this weekend are the first of nearly 100 scheduled softball broadcasts this season on BTN or

This season, teams will face eight Big Ten conference opponents in three-game series, with the regular season culminating on Saturday, May 12.