Eight-team tournament begins on Wednesday, with Indiana carrying the field’s top seed
ROSEMONT, Ill. – The conference office announced the 2014 Big Ten Baseball Tournament bracket on Saturday, with Indiana securing the top seed after winning the Big Ten Championship. This year’s tournament will feature an eight-team field for the first time and will be held May 21-25 at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb., home of the College World Series.
The Hoosiers, making their 11th all-time appearance in the Big Ten Tournament, claimed the No. 1 seed for the second straight season after going 21-3 in Big Ten play, making their .875 conference winning percentage the highest since Ohio State’s .893 winning percentage (25-3) in 1999. Indiana opens play against No. 8 Iowa at 5 p.m. CT on Wednesday. The Hawkeyes ended the year with a 10-14 conference mark and earn their ninth Big Ten Tournament berth in program history.
Nebraska is the No. 2 seed after finishing the season with an 18-6 mark in conference play. The Huskers have appeared in each of the last three Big Ten Tournaments. Nebraska will face No. 7 Ohio State at 1 p.m. CT on Wednesday. The Buckeyes finished the year with a 10-14 mark in conference play and rank second all-time with 27 Big Ten Tournament appearances. By virtue of its series win over Iowa, Ohio State earned the head-to-head tiebreaker.
Illinois claims the tournament’s No. 3 seed after posting a 17-7 record in the Big Ten. The Illini make their 20th all-time appearance in the conference tournament. Illinois will face No. 6 Michigan State in the first game of the Big Ten Tournament at 9 a.m. CT on Wednesday. The Spartans ended the year with an 11-13 mark in conference action and return to the postseason tournament for the 11th time in program history.
Fourth-seeded Minnesota will take on fifth-seeded Michigan in the final game of the day on Wednesday, with first pitch scheduled for 9 p.m. CT. The Gophers and Wolverines finished the year with matching 13-11 marks in conference play, but Minnesota won twice in the teams’ three-game series to earn the tiebreaker. Minnesota makes its conference-record 29th all-time appearance in the tournament, while Michigan earns its 23rd Big Ten Tournament berth.
Minnesota leads all conference teams with nine Big Ten Tournament titles, while Michigan and Ohio State each have eight tournament crowns. Illinois has claimed four postseason championships, Indiana owns three Big Ten Tournament titles and Purdue has won the tournament once. The Hoosiers are looking to become the first Big Ten program to win back-to-back tournament titles since Ohio State in 2002 and 2003.
The tournament’s double-elimination format will culminate with a single championship game on Sunday, with the winner earning the tournament title and the conference’s automatic berth to the NCAA Championship. All eight teams will begin play in one of two brackets, with Indiana, Iowa, Michigan and Minnesota appearing in one bracket and Illinois, Michigan State, Nebraska and Ohio State appearing in the other bracket.
Four contests are scheduled on Wednesday and Thursday, with two games slated for Friday. Saturday will feature the winners of each bracket facing the remaining one-loss team from the opposite bracket in the semifinals. As many as four games are scheduled for Saturday, with the opportunity for two if necessary games to be played to determine Sunday’s championship game participants.
BTN will provide live coverage during the Big Ten Tournament. The network will carry Games 3 and 4 on Wednesday, Games 6, 7 and 8 on Thursday, and each game on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.