Isn't this what nearly every pundit suspected would happen? Michigan captured their third consecutive regular season Big Ten conference title this afternoon by taking two games from Minnesota. Michigan prevailed by scores of 11-5 and 12-8. Mike Dufek was the star of the day. Dufek hit a grandslam and drove in five in the opener and followed that with his third homer of the season and a three RBI effort in the finale.
By winning the Big Ten crown, Michigan now gets to host the conference tournament and earns a first-round bye.
Two games of importance got washed out. Michigan State at Purdue and Illinois at Ohio State were forced to cancel due to rain. Those games not played may yet figure into the make-up of the tournament field. Penn State, however, took another step closer to securing a post-season berth with an 11-8 triumph over Iowa. Ryan Boonie drove in three for PSU.
Indiana and Northwestern went 10 innings before the Hoosiers won, 14-12. Tyler Rogers had a 4 for 5 performance for IU.
After these results, the standings look like this:
Penn State 15-13
Ohio State 13-13
Michigan State 12-14
(Note: The following is math related. You should know by now that mathematics and I are cordial, but not good friends. Thus, you should be more dubious than normal of the statements that follow.)
Michigan is the champion and hosts the tournament. Purdue, I believe, is in. I also think the Boilers' magic number to clinch second is one. Even if PSU were to sweep next weekend, Purdue would claim the tiebreaker with just one W because a better winning percentage (courtesy of fewer losses). If PSU sweeps and Illinois takes all four from Purdue, Illinois would also have fewer losses and, thus, a better winning percentage than the Nittany Lions. That would give the Illini second place. Minnesota and Iowa are eliminated. (Didn't see that coming in February.)
As for the rest of the scenarios, well, there are many, but not as many as just a week ago. I may take a stab at figuring this out, but I'm more than willing to accept help with all the post-season possibilities. (Yes, Frank, this means you.)
What of the final weekend? Here is your slate beginning Thursday afternoon:
Indiana @ Michigan State
Ohio State @ Iowa
Northwestern @ Michigan
Penn State @ Minnesota
Purdue @ Illinois
All five series have some bearing on the conference tournament race, so the last weekend should be fun. Congratulations to Michigan on back-to-back-to-back Big Ten titles.