Big Ten Baseball Tournament 2019: Schedule, TV Info and Predictions

Jake RillCorrespondent IIIMay 22, 2019

Indiana coach Jeff Mercer speaks during a news conference, Tuesday, May 21, 2019, ahead of the Big Ten NCAA college baseball tournament. First-year coach Mercer led the Hoosiers to their first Big Ten regular-season championship since 2014. His team leads the nation with 90 home runs entering the conference tournament at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
Nati Harnik/Associated Press

TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska, is the home of the College World Series. But before that, it's also the venue for this year's Big Ten tournament.

That will unfold this week as the eight best baseball teams from the Big Ten conference battle for the tournament championship and an automatic bid to the NCAA tourney.

Some teams will make it regardless, but for others, their only hope of winning the College World Series is by getting that bid from winning the conference tournament.

The Big Ten tournament is conducted in a double-elimination format, meaning a team must lose twice before getting knocked out. Here's a look at the schedule, which begins Wednesday morning, followed by predictions for which teams will be the ones to beat.

            

Tournament Schedule

All times ET. All games to be televised on Big Ten Network.

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Wednesday, May 22

Game 1: No. 3 Illinois vs. No. 6 Maryland, 10 a.m.

Game 2: No. 2 Michigan vs. No. 7 Ohio State, 2 p.m.

Game 3: No. 1 Indiana vs. No. 8 Iowa, 6 p.m.

Game 4: No. 4 Minnesota vs. No. 5 Nebraska, 10 p.m.

             

Thursday, May 23

Game 5: Loser of Game 1 vs. Loser of Game 2, 10 a.m.

Game 6: Loser of Game 3 vs. Loser of Game 4, 2 p.m.

Game 7: Winner of Game 1 vs. Winner of Game 2, 6 p.m.

Game 8: Winner of Game 3 vs. Winner of Game 4, 10 p.m.

            

Friday, May 24

Game 9: Loser of Game 7 vs. Winner of Game 5, 4:30 p.m.

Game 10: Loser of Game 8 vs. Winner of Game 6, 8:30 p.m.

             

Saturday, May 25

Game 11: Winner of Game 9 vs. Winner of Game 8, 10 a.m.

Game 12: Winner of Game 10 vs. Winner of Game 7, 2 p.m.

Game 13: Winner of Game 11 vs. Loser of Game 11, 6 p.m. (if necessary)

Game 14: Winner of Game 12 vs. Loser of Game 12, 10 p.m. (if necessary)

              

Sunday, May 26

Championship Game: Winner of Game 12/14 vs. Winner of Game 11/13, 2 p.m.

            

Predictions

Indiana may have finished atop the Big Ten standings to earn the No. 1 seed in the tournament, going 17-7 in conference play, but it was a crowded picture at the summit.

Four other Big Ten teams finished with 15 or more conference wins, which shows there are several different ways this tournament could go.

As the regular-season champions, the Hoosiers have to be among the favorites to win. Indiana coach Jeff Mercer was named the Big Ten Coach of the Year, while junior left-hander Andrew Saalfrank was named Big Ten Pitcher of the Year.

Saalfrank had a breakout season, going 8-1 with a 2.58 ERA in 14 games (11 starts).

"It's been a good year," said Mercer, who is in his first season at Indiana, per The Dan Dakich Show on 1070 The Fan. "The boys did a good job, and they finished strong. I really tried to get to know the boys and build some relationships and build trust. When you come in, you're going to make adjustments."

Even if Indiana doesn't win the conference tournament, it should easily earn an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.

As for other teams that could contend for the Big Ten tournament championship, Michigan, Illinois, Nebraska and Minnesota may get hot at the right time this week and make a run through the bracket.

The Wolverines finished second in the regular-season standings and are led by the Big Ten Player of the Year, outfielder Jordan Brewer. The junior batted .358/.415/.637 with 12 home runs and 52 RBIs in 49 games.

With the tournament being held in Omaha, that could bode well for the Cornhuskers, who will have a short commute from Lincoln and should have a large contingent of fans in attendance for their tournament games.

However, while this double-elimination tournament should be filled with competitive games, Indiana is the best among the eight teams. That will lead to the Hoosiers continuing their success under Mercer by winning their first Big Ten tournament title since 2014.