The end of the season is here, and this weekend is a big one for Purdue. As the Boilers enter the final three games of the season they are in one of the eight spots for next week’s Big Ten Tournament in Omaha. While winning that is a longshot, making the event is still a step forward towards what should be a solid 2023 season. If they were to surprise and win it (and they have the bats to get hot and win it), Purdue would reach the NCAA Tournament this year via an automatic bid. The current RPI is far too low for an at large bid, so it would be auto-bid-or-bust.
The downside is that the final three games of the season come against the best team in the conference and the toughest Purdue has played all season. Before today the highest rated team Purdue has played per the RPI is #60 Belmont, who swept Purdue in a three-game series during the midseason swoon. Purdue’s best win was at #66 Iowa, and the best series win was over #87 Michigan.
Maryland is, by far, the best team on the schedule. They are currently 9th in the RPI and ranked #14 in the coaches poll. They are on the short list as a possible Regional host in the NCAA Tournament in two weeks and they come in tied with Rutgers atop the Big Ten standings.
Maryland 16-5 at Purdue
Rutgers 16-5 at Michigan
Iowa 14-7 vs. Indiana
Illinois 14-7 at Penn State
Penn State 11-10 vs. Illinois
Michigan 10-11 vs. Rutgers
Indiana 10-11 at Iowa
Purdue 9-10 vs. Maryland
Northwestern 8-13 at Minnesota
Nebraska 8-13 vs. Michigan State
Ohio State 8-14 (Non-Conference Series)
Michigan State 7-14 at Nebraska
Minnesota 5-16 vs. Northwestern
Because Purdue will end up playing two fewer games than everyone but Ohio State everything comes down to winning percentage (unless other games are straight cancelled this weekend). With one win this weekend Purdue is in very, very good shape to make it to Omaha and two would clinch it for sure. On the other hand, Maryland is playing for a conference title and a hosting spot. Here is a rough breakdown of what we need:
For clarity, @Purduebaseball's path to the B1G Tourney:— Kyle Charters (@KyleCharters79) May 16, 2022
• Win 2 vs. Maryland
• Win 1 & both NW (at Minny) and Neb (vs. MSU) win 2 games (or less) each
• Win 0 & NW wins 1 (or less) and Neb wins 1
• Win 1 & either Michigan (vs. Rutgers) or IU (at Iowa) gets swept
As you can see, one win makes us pretty safe unless Northwestern and Nebraska sweep. In terms of teams ahead, Indiana at Iowa and Michigan against Rutgers can slide behind Purdue if they get swept and Purdue wins a game. Iowa and Illinois both have outside chances at the conference title, but they would need Maryland and Rutgers each to lose twice. Obviously that situation would greatly benefit Purdue.
MARYLAND SERIES SCHEDULE
• Thursday, May 19 at 6 p.m. ET on B1G+
• Friday, May 20 at 5 p.m. ET on BTN
• Saturday, May 21 at 1 p.m. ET on BTN
Maryland has been very good all year. They started the season 8-0 with a nice series sweep at Baylor and a sweep at a very good Campbell team. They also challenged themselves and won a game at Dallas Baptist, who is 8th in the RPI. They won a big series over Rutgers two weeks ago and last week they swept Michigan. They are 42-10 overall and they are second in the conference at the plate (.304 team average) and on the mound (3.87 ERA). They crush the ball too with a league leading 111 home runs (Rutgers is second at 89). By comparison, Purdue has only gone deep 38 times, and that is still a dramatic improvement over recent seasons.
Chris Alleyne and Matt Shaw lead the Big Ten in home runs with 19 each. Maxwell Costes has 15 and Nick Lorusso has 14. This is a team that simply rakes, and Purdue’s leader in Cam Thompson with 11 long balls would be 6th on their roster.
Jason Savacool has been excellent as their ace with a 2.51 ERA and 7-2 record. He is neck-and-neck with Iowa’s Adam Mazur for Pitcher of the Year in the conference, and Mazur completely handcuffed Purdue two weeks ago. Ryan Ramsey has also been excellent with a 2.98 ERA and 10-0 record. He also has a perfect game to his credit, going 27 up, 27 down against Northwestern on April 29th.
To be honest, Purdue will probably be lucky to steal one of these three games. Maryland has a few questionable conference losses. They dropped a game to last place Minnesota and one to Northwestern, who Purdue just beat. They are deservedly the best in the conference and even with one win there is a very good chance the Boilers would have to open the Big Ten tournament with them next week. Purdue’s hitting has slid off in recent weeks all the way to 11th in the league. It will have to be on this week to give us a chance.