All ten conference schools take to the field this weekend. Bob Todd's Ohio State squad looks to have the most daunting challenge ahead, Wake Forest, #1 Florida and #12 Missouri, but a number of Big Ten baseball programs face some difficult competition to open the 2006 season.
Here's a look at the games with some links tossed in for your enjoyment. A great number of these games will be available via GameTracker and some are being broadcast on the 'net. (For Big Ten baseball homepages, look in the sidebar to the right.)
Wake Forest vs. Ohio State
Big weekend for Buckeyes begins with Deamon Deacons. Wake freshman Dustin Hood is hitting .455 with posting a .500 mark in both on base and slugging percentage. Matt Antonelli has gone yard twice and is slugging at a .667 clip. I'm guessing OSU will go with LHP Dan DeLucia in the opener.
Iowa @ Austin Peay
Here's the Hawkeye preview of the weekend. Baseball America tabs Austin Peay as the Ohio Valley conference winner this year. They also project APSU lefty Rowdy Hardy as the OVC Player of the Year. The name alone merits him some recognition.
UAB vs. Michigan
Wolverines open 2006 with Blazers. LHP Drew Taylor is scheduled to take the hill for Rich Maloney's team. Many will be wacthing for the debut of herladed freshman Zach Putnam.
Indiana @ Charlotte
Three game set marks the beginning of Tracy Smith's reign as IU head coach.
Penn State @ East Carolina (Friends of ECU Baseball, Unofficial ECU site)
Nittany Lions open up vs. ECU in first of three. PSU's Lance Thompson gets a chance to defend his conference player of the week award.
Minnesota @ # 6 Florida State (Section B, Unofficial FSU site)
Gophers travel to play three with #6 Seminoles. If OSU's three games aren't the most challenging for the Big Ten, then Minnesota's series with always strong FSU are. Brian Bull is scheduled to start for Minnesota. FSU counters with RHP Bryan Henry (2-0).
Illinois @ Stetson
Dan Hartleb begins his tenure as Illini head man vs. Hatters. All Big Ten starter Brian Blomquist will pitch the season opener for Illinois. Watch out for Stetson, they are a potential tournament team.
Michigan State @ Lamar
Spartans open '06 with four games in the Lone Star State. MSU's David Grewe is another Big Ten skipper making his debut this weekend.
Purdue @ Louisiana-Lafayette
Boilermakers get a weekend of Cajun cookin' to begin the new year. Look for Jay Buente to start on the mound for Purdue.
Northwestern @ Louisville
Cardinals host Wildcats in a Friday doubleheader and a single game Saturday. George Kontos will take the mound for NU in Game 1. Dan Brauer should be Game Two's starter for the Wildcats.
Michigan State @ Lamar (Game 1)
Michigan State @ Arkansas State (Game 2)
Illinois vs. South Florida
Jake Toohey is Coach Hartleb's choice in game two. USF took two of three from Northwestern last weekend.
Iowa vs. Illinois State
ISU has two Baseball America all-conference selections: 1B Kyle O'Brien and SS Ryan Antesberger.
Michigan vs. Troy
Michigan will go with another lefthander on Saturday, Paul Hammond.
Ohio State vs. #1 Florida
OSU sophomore LHP Cory Luebke is the likely starter against the top team in the land. Florida is just plain loaded.
Purdue vs. Louisiana-Monroe
Brett Courdon is scheduled to be the Boilers' second starter.
Penn State vs. #18 North Carolina State
Minnesota @ #6 Florida State
It's Cole DeVries (Minnesota) vs. Michael Hyde (FSU) in the second tilt.
Northwestern @ Louisville
RHP Ryan Myers is due to start this game for NU. Cards have a heralded freshman in 3B Chris Dominguez.
Indiana vs. Charlotte
Illinois vs. Western Carolina
WCU OF Steven Strausbaugh is a pre-season all-conference selection. Illini RHP Scott Shaw should take the mound in the finale of the three game set.
Iowa vs. Dayton
Flyers doubleplay combo Galen Schumm and Michael Massa were named to Baseball America's all-Atlantic 10 conference team.
Michigan vs. South Alabama
Ohio State vs. #12 Missouri
Michigan State vs. Kentucky
Purdue vs. Kansas State
Dan Sattler is the probable starter for Purdue.
Penn State vs. West Virginia
Minnesota @. #6 Florida State
The finale has Dustin Brabender against FSU's Barrett Browning.
Indiana @ Charlotte
That's it for previews. I've got other things to attend to, so I must move on. For next weekend, I'm going to look at altering this format some, probably sticking more to links. Anyway, I hope you all enjoy the first big weekend of action for Big Ten baseball. Thanks for stopping in.