Hoosier baseball heads to Lincoln for pivotal series against Cornhuskers.

Jamie Squire

The Hoosiers seek the Big Ten lead.

When I last mentioned the baseball Hoosiers, they were rolling at 26-4, but promptly lost all three games in a road trip to East Lansing. Hopefully, this post won't be yet another jinx, because this weekend's series at Nebraska is one of the most important in the program's history. After the sweep by the Spartans, IU lost to Ball State to extend the losing streak to 4, but since then IU has won 8 in a row, including three-game sweeps of Butler and Michigan and one-offs against Eastern Kentucky and Indiana State.

Based on my limited knowledge of college baseball, I think it's fair to say that the Hoosiers would need to collapse completely to miss the NCAA Tournament, but the Hoosiers, who are ranked #16 in the most recent Baseball America top 25, remain in the hunt to host one of 16 regionals, and perhaps even have a shot at being a Super Regional host. Currently, IU is tied for second in the Big Ten at 11-4 (Minnesota, which has played one less series than the Hoosiers and Huskers, is in the lead at 9-3).

The Big Ten has long been looked down upon as a baseball conference by the likes of the SEC, Big 12, and Pac-12, and with good reason. No Big Ten team has qualified for the College World Series since Michigan in 1984, and no Big Ten team has won the NCAA title since Ohio State in 1966. Nebraska, despite facing some tough southern competition in the Big 12, was fairly successful in that league. In the 15 years that Nebraska was in the Big 12 (i.e., not counting their Big 8 history), the Huskers won three regular season titles, four conference tournament titles, played in the NCAA Tournament nine times, and advanced to the College World Series (played in Omaha, of course) in 2001, 2002, and 2005. That's a long-winded way of saying that Nebraska has more credibility with the folks making the decisions for the NCAA than any other Big Ten program, and a strong showing in Lincoln would be very good. The Hoosiers aren't without impressive road performances this year--the Hoosiers won two of three from #21 Florida in Gainesville early in the season--but winning this series would be a big deal, indeed.

FYI, presumably because of finals week, this is a Saturday-Sunday-Monday series. The first game of the series is on BTN at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Corn Nation does a great job of covering Nebraska baseball. Be sure to check it out.

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