The Minnesota Gophers swept a double-header with Rutgers yesterday to move into 1st place in the Big Ten. The double-header was a makeup from early April that was rained out. And it turns out getting those games rescheduled was a pretty big deal, as those two wins puts Minnesota within striking distance of earning their second consecutive Big Ten regular season title.
After the two wins yesterday the Gophers hold a 1⁄2 game lead over 3rd place Michigan and something less than a 1⁄2 game over Nebraska thanks to a tie. The good news is that despite having 3 teams within a 1⁄2 game of each other, it is highly unlikely that 2 of them end up with the same record.
The even better news is that the Gophers control their own destiny. Win all three games this coming weekend and the Gophers are Big Ten Champs again. Here are the remaining schedules...
Minnesota hosts Purdue (RPI-126) - The Boilermakers are the best of the opponents of the top 3 teams so in that respect the Gophers probably have the toughest task ahead of them as they seek a sweep. But when you look a little deeper you’ll see that Purdue has built up a 10-11 conference record by playing teams on the bottom portion of the standings while avoiding the top 4 teams before the final 2 weekends.
Nebraska goes to Penn State (RPI-205) - lowest RPI in the Big Ten, worst hitting team in the conference, 2nd worst pitching team and 3rd worst defensively. Minnesota and Michigan both swept the Nittany Lions earlier this season so Nebraska needs to follow suit. Friday starter Sal Biasi is the best chance for a Penn State win as the junior is one of the Big Ten’s best pitchers and is the reason they’ve won 2 of their 3 Big Ten wins. This series is on the road,
Michigan plays Michigan State (RPI-79) - The Wolverines get rival Spartans. They are on the road for Friday and Sunday while getting to host on Saturday. MSU is a very good hitting team (2nd in Big Ten in average and runs scored) while also having the 3rd best ERA. A sweep for 3rd place Michigan seems like a tough task.
WHAT WILL THIS MEAN?
If they win out it would mean a Big Ten Championship, their 24th overall! As for the postseason, the NCAA Tournament is unlikely for this year’s Gophers unless they win the Big Ten Tourney. Their RPI is pretty low (69th) and there are 4 Big Ten teams ahead of them.
Lets get the sweep, add another year to the conference titles banner then see what happens next week in Indiana.