Despite a large contingent of people that are red, nude, and very mad online Purdue baseball is headed to the Big Ten Tournament. Saturday’s cancellation against Maryland and the cold weather preventing Purdue and Ohio State from playing a DH back in March means Purdue sneaks into the field as the 7 seed at 9-12 in league play. It is not how we wanted to get there, to be sure, but Purdue is there and now at least has a chance. Purdue’s overall record of 29-19 is still good. The 29 wins trail only Maryland (44), Rutgers (41), Iowa (32), and Illinois (30). It will take a run, but if Purdue manages to win the Big Ten Tournament it will cash in the automatic bid and go to the NCAA Tournament as a surprise.
Here is the schedule for the week (all games televised on BTN, all times ET):
Wednesday, May 25
Game 1 10am - #3 Iowa vs. #6 Penn State
Game 2 2pm - #2 Rutgers vs. #7 Purdue
Game 3 6pm - #1 Maryland vs. #8 Indiana
Game 4 10pm - #4 Illinois vs. #5 Michigan
Thursday, May 26
Game 5 10am - Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser
Game 6 2pm - Game 3 loser vs. Game 4 loser
Game 7 6pm - Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner
Game 8 10pm - Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner
Friday, May 27
Game 9 4:30pm - Game 7 loser vs. Game 5 winner
Game 10 8:30pm - Game 8 loser vs. Game 6 winner
Saturday, May 28
Game 11 10am - Game 9 winner vs. Game 10 winner
Game 12 2pm - Game 10 winner vs. Game 7 winner
Game 13 6pm - Game 11 winner vs. Game 11 loser (if necessary)
Game 14 10pm - Game 12 winner vs. Game 12 loser (if necessary)
Sunday, May 29
2pm Championship Game - Game 12/14 winner vs. Game 11/13 winner
In terms of the NCAAs only two teams are feeling pretty safe right now. Maryland is a lock. They will host a regional and they might even be one of the top 8 national seeds, meaning they would play at home until the College World Series. Rutgers is probably safe with an RPI of 40 and 41 regular season wins. D1baseball projects Iowa as currently the first team out of the field, so with a good week they could play their way in. For everyone else it is autobid-or-bust.
As far as Purdue’s chances, I just don’t see us having the pitching to win it all. We would have to win four games in a row or fight through the loser’s bracket, which seems unlikely. The hitting can deliver, but even if Jackson Smeltz returns as our ace (he has been out for the last month) it is asking a lot of a pitching staff that has struggled mightily.
Against our half of the bracket Purdue did not play Rutgers and it went 1-2 on the road against both Penn State and Iowa. That tells me that if Purdue beats the Scarlet Knights in game 1 there is at least a chance to win on Thursday, especially since the wins over Iowa and Penn State came of those teams’ No. 2 pitchers. At least if luck holds and Purdue wins its first two games it has the luxury of not having to fight through the losers bracket and would have Friday off.
The goal should be to get at least one win and avoid an 0-2 showing. That means we played above our seed and hitting the 30 win mark on the season, especially with a whopping 8 games lost due to weather, would be a great springboard towards 2023, where on paper we should have a very solid team returning.
In terms of winning this specific tournament, Purdue would have to win its first two games and hope the day off on Friday helps them get a Saturday win. If we’re lucky enough to get to Sunday anything can happen.