Big Ten Tournament Game by Game Predictions

May 25, 2010

TMill over at Hammer & Rails included in his conference preview his game by game predictions, and rather than try and comment on his site, I figured I’d post the whole thought process here. I’ll probably do an abridged version over at mgoblog in my Michigan preview.

Game One

Purdue and Iowa are in a rematch of last weekend and the pitching match is definitely the best on Wednesday. Purdue will start ace Matt Bischoff while Iowa will start sophomore lefty Jarred Hippen. Bischoff was the strikeout king in the Big Ten this season, knotching 87 Ks in 86 innings. Hippen is a great contact pitcher, stealing wins for Iowa all season.

In this game, I’m taking Purdue. Bischoff only threw 6.2 innings last week while Hippen went the complete game. I don’t think he’ll be able to be as dominant or able to go deep, and the soft Iowa bull pen will falter. I like Bischoff to go at least 8 innings and have 9-10 Ks to make up for last week’s disappointment.

Game Two

In the second Wednesday game, Indiana will face Northwestern. Drew Leininger will start for Indiana and the lefty Eric Jokisch will start for Northwestern. Jokisch defeated the Hoosiers in a complete game a few weeks back, taking advantage of a left handed heavy IU order.

I like Northwestern in this one. The Hoosiers are capable of knocking Jokisch around, especially since he threw a complete game last week and he may not be rested enough. That said, I think Northwestern’s Snieder should be more than capable of shutting the door if NU can hold a small lead late.

The other factor going into this is Drew Leininger’s recent slide. He’s seen his ERA jump from 1 to 4 in the last 4 weeks. I’m not sold that Squires is nearly as dominant as in year’s past either.

Game Three

This leaves Indiana and Iowa in the losers’ bracket. While neither team has a definite number two, both teams have a pretty big drop after their aces. Iowa’s Nick Brown or Phil Schreiber should both be capable of making a quality start, but I think Indiana jumps all over them.

Indiana wins in a high scoring game. Iowa gets eliminated.

Game Four

In this scenario, Northwestern is the highest seed advancing, so they would face Michigan. Northwestern would start Francis Brooke and Michigan would start Alan Oaks. This game is really anyone’s guess as I would think it be of the fairly low scoring variety. If Snieder is used for too many innings in NU’s previous game, I have to feel the edge goes to Michigan.

Francis Brooke also struggled against Michigan in his start a few weeks ago. In 5.1 innings, he gave up 7 hits and 6 runs while only striking out three. I’m feeling a similar start this weekend.

Michigan wins, but by no more than 3 runs. Tension will run high in the 9th.

Game Five

Purdue is the lower seed I see advancing, so they would face Minnesota in the Thursday night cap. Rosin is the projected starter for Minnesota, but I’m not sure who Purdue throws out.

If you had asked me before last weekend, I would have said Purdue goes with Wurdack. I’m less confident about that now. Calvin Gunter has been shellacked the last two Saturdays, never making it past the third inning. Wurdack would seem like the ideal to soak up innings and give the Boilermakers a chance.

Minnesota has also been in Columbus for a week at this point, so I have to assume they’ll be fine in their opener.

Between the Purdue pitching situation and Minnesota’s cool, I’m taking Minnesota cruising to a win in this game.

Game Six

Indiana advances to this game with the win over Iowa, and Purdue being the 5 seed would be the loser from Thursday thrust into this game. Indiana is effectively out of starting pitching by this game, and as far as I’m concerned, so is Purdue. Both will be on their third starter of the weekend, so it becomes which pitcher can make the best start and who’s bullpen is better.

I’m somewhat torn on this, as Gunter should be the third starter, which means a lefty to face the left handed heavy Hoosier lineup. At the same time, Indiana can hit.

Meanwhile, Matt Carr is back in the starting rotation for Indiana, and he had a solid start last weekend against Illinois, whatever that may mean. Even his start the week before at Michigan State was still alright.

So starting edge, I think I give Indiana. Bullpen, I’ll give that edge to Purdue. Where to go from there?

Gut tells me it’s Indiana. I’ll go with it. Confidence level is only in the 35% range.

Game Seven

This puts Indiana going into a double header, with their second opponent being Northwestern. NU will still have Muraski as their #3 starter who has a 7.46 ERA. Indiana will be throwing the kitchen sink. Neither of those options sound very inviting.

If anything I think Northwestern’s bullpen should still be in pretty good shape. The question becomes will Indiana jump out fast enough and far enough to put the Wildcats behind them. I can’t see NU pulling a come from behind victory without some major help from IU’s fielding or tired bullpen.

If Muraski can survive for 5 innings, I like Northwestern. If he doesn’t make it 3, the Wildcats are in for a world of pain.

So with that, I’m going to choose Northwestern. Indiana will be on their fourth game in 3 days. That’s too much of a strain on a pitching staff.

Game Eight

Minnesota will face Michigan with the winner going to the Big Ten Tournament Championship game. TJ Oakes throws for Minnesota, so the Gophers should be in good shape. I have no idea who pitches for Michigan. My mind tells me Bobby Brosnahan. My gut wrenching feeling is Eric Katzman gets the start. Just typing that has me ghost pale. I have no idea what to expect.

I hope Maloney researches the home plate umpire well. If it’s a guy who’s been historically tight, please god don’t start Katzman. We’ll see Eric’s twin "Evil" on the mound and Michigan may fall behind too much early, being forced to waste Matt Miller. DO NOT WANT.

Still, Katzman is way over due for the most ridiculously amazing 7 innings, 1 earned run performance.

This game will come down to the last at bat if Michigan doesn’t get an Evil Katzman start, but I have to feel like Minnesota takes the game. Michigan is very capable of winning, but Minnesota is the better team right now.

Game Nine

This makes sets up a rematch between Michigan and Northwestern in the loser’s bracket. Northwestern’s starter is a mystery. They haven’t played a mid-week game in a while, so it’s a total wildcard.

Michigan will still have several options available. Depending on how the first few games go, Michigan could have Sinnery, Katzman, Brosnahan, Gerbe, or Miller still available. All that pitching depth makes me take Michigan fairly easily in the win.

Game Ten – Championship Game 1

The finale? Maybe. Minnesota will only be on their third pitcher of the weekend, Phil Isaksson. Michigan will be on starter #4. Luckily, Michigan has the depth to go at least 4 starters deep, but who knows how many will be used up trying to avoid the loser’s bracket.

With all the pitching depth, if Michigan can win this game, I think they become the favorite for Game 11. This season has been ridiculous enough to demand a Game 11, but I don’t think it’s in the cards. Minnesota wins as Michigan just doesn’t have enough to push through the final game.

Minnesota wins the tourney. Ohio State is still sitting at home. Michigan just misses the Big Ten Tournament. Minnesota goes on to take one game at a regional before exiting.


Early Look at All Big Ten Teams

May 20, 2010

There’s no doubting that I’m excited for this weekend’s series to get underway so the most exciting pennant race in college baseball, for those who notice it at least, can hit high gear. As we enter the last week of regular season play, I’ve started to form a rough draft on All-Big Ten teams.

Creating the teams was pretty tough. I focused more on a balance of offense and defense, with a slight emphasis on the former. Some emphasis was also added for ending the season well, so players like Purdue’s Wurdack receive recognition even if their season numbers aren’t the greatest. Certain positions, like second base and the outfield (surprisingly) weren’t so tough. Others, like catcher and first are pretty stacked with talent. Then you have the left side of the infield, which is WAY weaker than anywhere else on the field by miles.

First team:

  • SP – Alex Wimmers (OSU)
  • SP – Matt Bischoff (Purdue)
  • SP – Phil Isaksson (Minnesota)
  • RP – David Lutz (Penn State)
  • C – Chris Berset (Michigan)
  • 1B – Jeff Sabourin (Indiana)
  • 2B – Ryan Jones (Michigan State)
  • 3B – Cory Rupert (Ohio State)
  • SS – Nick Overmyer (Purdue)
  • LF – Ryan LaMarre (Michigan)
  • CF – Zach Hurley (Ohio State)
  • RF – Alex Dickerson (Indiana)
  • DH – Josh Lyon (Indiana)

Second Team:

  • SP – TJ Oakes (Minnesota)
  • SP – Jarred Hippen (Iowa)
  • SP – AJ Achter (Michigan State)
  • RP – Tyler Burgoon (Michigan)
  • C – Ben Heath (Penn State)
  • 1B – Paul Snieder (Northwestern)*
  • 2B – Zach Morton (Northwestern)
  • 3B – Zach McCool (Iowa)
  • SS – Jonathon Roof (Michigan State)
  • OF– Brandon Eckerle (Michigan State)
  • OF – Kurtis Muller (Iowa)
  • OF – Eli Boike (Michigan State)
  • DH – Michael Stephens (Ohio State)

*Also 3rd team RP

Third Team:

  • SP – Drew Leininger (Indiana)
  • SP – Francis Brooke (Northwestern)
  • SP – Drew Wurdack (Purdue)
  • C – Chad Noble (Northwestern)
  • 1B – Jeff Holm (Michigan State)
  • 2B – Cory Kovanda (Ohio State)
  • 3B – Torsten Boss (Michigan State)
  • SS – Ethan Wilson (Indiana)
  • OF– Michael Kvasnicka (Minnesota)
  • OF – Steve Snyder (Penn State)
  • OF – Michael Earley (Indiana)
  • DH – Coley Crank (Michigan)

Freshman

  • SP – Brett McKinney (Ohio State)
  • SP – TJ  Oakes (Minnesota)
  • SP – Kevin Johnson (Illinois)
  • RP – Steven Hill (Penn State)
  • C – Kevin Plawecki (Purdue)
  • 1B – ????
  • 2B – Ryan Jones (Michigan State)
  • 3B – Cameron Perkins (Purdue)
  • SS – Derek Dennis (Michigan)
  • OF– Patrick Biondi (Michigan)
  • OF – Arby Fields (Northwestern)
  • OF – Steve Snyder (Penn State)
  • DH – Torsten Boss (Michigan State)

The All-Big Ten overall teams seem to be pretty fair. Picking a third string shortstop was horrible. Pick anyone not listed already, and you can probably make a case for them. Well, maybe not Tyler Engle at Ohio State, but the other 7 shortstops are all about the same.

The other position that I’m having trouble filling is freshman first baseman. Is there a freshman that’s played enough first base to remotely qualify? If so, they get in by default of no one else even registering on the radar.

One weekend to go, time for the players to make their final pushes.