Last season the Purdue baseball team tied a school record with 37 victories, but failed to reach the NCAA Tournament. The main reason was that the strength of schedule was incredibly weak, and they failed to beat Michigan State in four contests. Our Boilers now return one of the deepest teams in the conference, and today's schedule announcement carries enough heft to get over those gripes about playing a week schedule.
As you know, the new Alexander Field at the Northwest Athletic Complex will makes its debut in midseason, and the athletic department announced this morning that March 30th will hopefully be the first game at the new stadium. Purdue will continue to play at Lambert Field, its current home, until Alexander Field is finished. As it stands right now, only two games will need to be played at Lambert: The March 27th game against Louisville and the March 28th game against IPFW.
The rest of the schedule has some solid game. As usual, Purdue will begin on the road in the Big Ten/Big East Challenge on February 17th. Cincinnati, Connecticut, and Notre Dame. Purdue also has games scheduled against East Carolina and Maryland in a late February Tournament at East Carolina. The third week has another early season tournament at Auburn against Auburn, Southern Miss, and Charleston Southern. Purdue goes to Wichita State for a four game set in mid-March before playing at home.
Once in Big Ten play, Purdue curiously does not play Indiana this year. Since the Big Ten has only 11 baseball playing schools, the Boilers have a midseason bye weekend. They have filled it with a marquee road trip to UCLA. The Bruins were a regional host last season before losing to UC Irvine.
Overall, the schedule has lots of heft. UCLA, Connecticut, East Carolina, Southern Miss, and Illinois were all NCAA Tournament teams a year ago. Wichita State is often a very strong program. Louisville, Missouri State, and Nebraska have been recent CWS participants and regularly make the tourney. Auburn is a strong SEC program and we're playing in their tournament with Southern Miss and Charleston Southern. This is easily the most difficult schedule Purdue has faced in some time. Purdue only gets 17 games at home this year, so the if it is going to make the NCAA Tournament it will have to do so away from home. Hopefully next season we can have a few more home games with the completion of Alexander Field.