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Big Ten Tournament Update: Omaha Gets Weird

Despite the late start, the Hoosiers rolled over Michigan last night, and the inevitable showdown against Nebraska for the conference title looks to be imminent. After winning their first two games, the Hoosiers have a bye today, and next play tomorrow at 2pm.

Ky-le Schwar-ber (clap clap clap-clap-clap)
Ky-le Schwar-ber (clap clap clap-clap-clap)

Led by strong pitching performances by Joey DeNato and Christian Morris, the Hoosiers are flying high in the Big Ten baseball tournament. In their first game on Wednesday night, Indiana used the combination that has won them games all season - impressive starters on the mound and clutch hits - to defeat Iowa, 5-2. Though the Hawkeyes took an early lead in the top of the 1st, Indiana did not flinch, and RBI singles from Nick Ramos and Casey Rodrigue put the Hoosiers back on top in the bottom of the 2nd. DeNato pitched eight innings and recorded nine strikeouts in the victory.

Last night, however, IU was scheduled to play the fourth game of the day against Michigan. The original start time of the game was 10pm ET, but a rain delay before the start of the day's first game pushed the day's schedule back, and this game didn't end up starting until 11pm. Thus, we got into #weirdbaseball, as Kyle put it on Twitter last night, because the game went on long after midnight. Well, technically it didn't get past midnight in Omaha until late in the game. However, for the folks watching in Indiana and Michigan (along with all those new B1G fans in DC and NYC that Jim Delany has promised), this one felt like the last leg of an all-day first round of March Madness binge.

There were some other weird aspects to this game as well. IU was designated as the visiting team, and batted first, even though they were the higher seed. Why is that? NO ONE KNOWS. It's the biggest mystery since the number of licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop. What also was weird, as we've gone over before, was that for some reason, baseballs still do not want to leave TD Ameritrade Park, no matter how hard they get hit (note: this rule does not apply to Kyle Schwarber). So for the first five innings, both IU starter Christian Morris and Michigan starter Brett Adcock had no-hitters going. However, Morris ended up prevailing with the stronger arm, giving up only one hit over seven innings. Thanks to a five-run seventh inning for IU that featured the only runs scored in the game, including a two-run homer from Schwarber, the Hoosiers shut out Michigan, 5-0.

So now, do the Hoosiers get to finally reach their destiny and meet the other only undefeated team in the tourney so far in second-seeded Nebraska? Well, in the words of former IU football coach Lee Corso: not so fast my friend. IU does get the day off today to hang out with Warren Buffett and Doug McDermott, eat steaks, and do whatever else there is to do in Omaha... if you yell the city's name out really loudly three times, does Peyton Manning appear? However, the winner of today's Illinois/Michigan State elimination game will face the Hoosiers tomorrow. (SATURDAY UPDATE: Michigan State beat the Illini yesterday so we'll face Sparty this afternoon.) That game will take place at 2pm ET. If the Hoosiers win that, they're into the conference title game on Sunday, which again takes place at 2pm ET. Most likely, they will face the Huskers in this game. However, if IU loses to the ILL/MSU winner MSU, things could get weird again, since the Hoosiers would have to play another late-night game on Saturday night to prevent being eliminated.

In the grand scheme of the NCAA Tournament, the Hoosiers got some good news in their quest to become a national seed, thanks to the SEC oddly enough. Ole Miss and South Carolina were both also in contention to get national seeds; however, they both lost their opening matches of the SEC tournament. In fact, the Gamecocks went 0-2 in the tourney and thus have been eliminated, so this helps IU in their quest to get a top-8 seed and host a Super Regional.

Finally, here are links to other recent IU baseball coverage around the site: