2016 B1G Baseball Season Preview

Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports
"People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh... people will come Ray. People will most definitely come."
Whether you enjoy it or not baseball is a part of America culture and history. Generation after generation have sat in the stands watching this game being played by heroes, villians, savants, and jackwagons. So since the start college baseball begins this weekend for programs all across the land we decided here at OTE to do a little coverage of the B1G boys on the diamond. And while most folks on OTE are more apt to focus on football or basketball they may not have noticed something that is happening in regards to B1G baseball.

Building a Foundation

You see, in 2015 the B1G had an amazing year sending 5(!) teams to the NCAA tournament with two of those teams making it to the Supers (and one even hosted!). Now that may not sound like much to maybe the SEC, ACC, Big XII, or PAC-12 but to the B1G it was a big deal considering a decade ago it would probably only send one and usually that was just the B1G tournament winner.

With the addition of schools that have a baseball background (Nebraska from the Big XII and Maryland from the ACC) and other B1G founding schools pouring more into their programs (Purdue, Indiana, and hell even Northwestern creating new facilities) there is a possibly of a B1G revival in terms of college baseball. And the term 'revival' is not misused.

The B1G was a powerhouse back in the 50's and 60's winning 6 CWS titles (Michigan: '53 & '62; Minnesota: '56, '60, & '64; Ohio St. with the most recent one in '66) which is still somehow 3 times as many as the ACC amazingly enough. With the recent successes of the past few years (Indiana visiting Omaha in 2013 and the B1G's breakthrough last year) and programs putting more effort into facilities/coaches can the B1G make it back to the top of the college baseball world and hoist the crown in Omaha? It's going to be a long uphill climb but it can be done.

2016 Preview

Since 2015 was an unprecedented success it leaves us asking where can the B1G go from here? Many teams that had history defining seasons last year (Illinois/Iowa/Maryland) lost a lot to graduation and the MLB draft so some are rebuilding while others try to reload. This kind of makes the B1G baseball race wide open in 2016. Michigan was picked in the preseason to continue with their momentum of winning the 2015 B1G tournament but others like Indiana, Maryland, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan St, and Nebraska will all try to end up on top of the heap come May in Omaha.

Here we will preview each team noting their players to watch as well as the noteworthy games for their upcoming season:

Illinois Fighting Illini

The Illini lost Tyler Jay last year as the 6th overall pick in the MLB draft but do return first-team All-Big Ten selections Goldstein and Walton. They also start testing themselves early visiting #19 Tulane in New Orleans opening weekend to gauge what this team will be capable of.

Players to watch:

Jason Goldstein, Sr., C,

Cody Sedlock, Jr., SP,

Adam Walton, Jr, SS,

Notable games:

2/19 @ #19 Tulane

2/20 @ #19 Tulane

2/21 @ #19 Tulane

5/3 vs. Missouri (SEC Network)

Indiana Hoosiers

The Hoosiers will try and stay in the top tier of the B1G baseball world by hoping Hart can continue his dominant 5-0 1.21 ERA run he had last year. Indiana also scores major cool points for having a decent non-con schedule.

Players to watch:

Craig Dedelow, Jr., CF

Kyle Hart, Sr., SP

Jake Kelzer, Jr., RP

Notable games:

2/26 @ Cal St. Fullerton
2/27 @ Cal St. Fullerton
2/28 @ Cal St. Fullerton
4/26 Notre Dame (Indianapolis)
5/10 Kentucky
5/17 @ Louisville

Iowa Hawkeyes

The Hawkeyes got a taste for the NCAA tourney for the first time in 25 years and they want to make a back a second time. Look to the senior leadership of Mathews, Peyton, and Roscetti to try and make that happen. Iowa also has a decent non-con as well.

Players to watch:

Calvin Mathews, Sr., SP

Tyler Peyton, Sr., SP/1B

Nick Roscetti, Sr., SS

Notable games:

2/19 @Dallas Baptist

2/20 @Dallas Baptist

2/21 @Dallas Baptist

3/18 @Missouri St.

3/19 @Missouri St.

3/20 @Missouri St.

4/29 KSU

4/30 KSU

5/1 KSU

Maryland Terrapins

The past two years the Terps enjoyed being in the Super Regionals and for them to make a run at a third return trip they will lean heavily on SP Mike Shawaryn who had a crazy low 1.71 ERA last year.

Players to watch:

Nick Cieri, Jr., C/DH

Mike Shawaryn, Jr., SP

Kevin Smith, So., SS

Notable games:

2/19 @Alabama (SEC Network)

2/20 @Alabama (SEC Network)

2/21 @Alabama (SEC Network)

3/4 Tennessee (Greenville, NC)

3/16 @UC Irvine

3/18 @Cal St. Fullerton

3/19 @Cal St. Fullerton

3/20 @Cal St. Fullerton

Michigan Wolverines

As mentioned above Michigan was the preseason pick to win the B1G and the main reason why is that they return almost everyone from last year. Having Benedetti on the team also helps since he can both hit (.325 batting average) and do work on the mound (1.84 ERA).

Players to watch:

Brett Adcock, Jr., SP

Carmen Benedetti, Jr., IF/OF/RP

Evan Hill, Sr., SP

Notable games:

2/29 @Cal

3/18 @Okie Lite

3/19 @Okie Lite

3/20 @Okie Lite

4/5 @Notre Dame

Michigan State Spartans

The Spartans do lose a lot of offense from last year but still have a decent pitching staff in Borkovich and Vieaux. MSU will get to test out their arms as well as their bats in the multiple tournament to open the season.

Players to watch:

Walter Borkovich, Jr., SP

Cam Vieaux, Jr., SP

Jordan Zimmerman, Jr., 2B

Notable games:

4/1 Oregon

4/2 Oregon

4/3 Oregon

4/19 Notre Dame

Minnesota Golden Gophers

The Gophers kind of ruled the roost in the early Aughts in the B1G but have slipped away from the top tier the past few years. It'll be tough sledding for them to head back to the top with all the new and revamped competition.

Players to watch:

Austin Athmann, Jr., C

Dan Motl, Sr., OF

Dalton Sawyer, Sr., SP

Notable Games:

2/19 Utah (Surprise, AZ)

2/21 Utah (Surprise, AZ)

2/21 Oregon St. (Surprise, AZ)

3/25 @Missouri St.

3/26 @Missouri St.

3/27 @Missouri St.

5/3 Kansas

5/4 Kansas

Nebraska Cornhuskers

The Huskers will try and grab that elusive B1G title that has been slightly out of reach since joining in 2011 (could the rest of the B1G stop having historical baseball seasons please? kthxbye). The Huskers do lose a decent amount from last year's team (Austin Darby, Blake Headley, Kyle Kubat, Tanner Lubach) but do return Ryan Boldt who is on the Golden Spikes watch list. Boldt will be joined by "Big" Ben Miller as well as Luis Alvarado on the offensive side of things with Burkamper and Howell on the pitching side.

If the Huskers fail to capture the B1G title this year they can always look to this gif to pick themselves up...
Alex Gordon is the man
Woo! Go Big Red!

Players to watch:

Ryan Boldt, Jr., CF

Derek Burkamper, Jr., SP

Colton Howell, Sr., SP

Notable games:

2/19 @College of Charleston

2/20 @College of Charleston

2/21 @College of Charleston

2/27 Arizona/Tulane (Tony Gwynn Classic)

3/18 Wichita State

3/19 Wichita State ­

3/20 Wichita State

3/29 Creighton (#spreadjaycism)

4/05 Kansas State

4/12 @Creighton (#spreadjaycism)

4/19 @Kansas State

4/26 @Creighton (#spreadjaycism)

4/27 Kansas (Kauffman Stadium)

Northwestern Wildcats

They did acquire a new coach and have a new playground to play in (its no floating stadium but still pretty decent).

Players to watch:

Jake Stolley, Sr., RP

Zach Jones, Sr., 1B

Joe Hoscheit, Jr., OF

Notable games:

5/14 Cal

5/15 Cal (DH)

5/16 Cal

Ohio State Buckeyes

The Buckeyes have been treading water the past few years being a somewhat decent team but not really challenging all that much for the top. They do have a fair amount of upperclassmen returning so in an unpredictable year this might be the time to make a run at it.

Players to watch:

Ronnie Dawson, Jr., OF

Troy Montgomery, Jr., OF

Tanner Tully, Jr., SP

Notable games:

2/27 Coastal Carolina (Coastal Carolina Tournament)

2/29 Coastal Carolina (Coastal Carolina Tournament)

3/11 @UNLV

3/12 @UNLV

3/13 @UNLV

3/15 @UNLV

Penn State Nittany Lions

PSU has a baseball team and they do things from time to time but honestly I can't think of anything off the top of my head. They do get a couple cool head-bashi-er...matchups with South Carolina and TCU this year so that's nice.

Players to watch:

Sal Biasi, So., SP,

Jim Haley, Jr., SS,

Taylor Lehman, So., SP,

Notable games:

2/26 @ South Clackalacky

2/27 @ South Clackalacky

2/28 @ South Clackalacky

5/6 TCU

5/7 TCU

5/8 TCU

Purdue Boilermakers

Ever since Purdue made that run to the B1G title in 2012 the Boilermakers have dipped low into the standings. They do have a nice stadium and a coach that wants the B1G to get better as a whole but right now things aren't going the way they wanted to continue in 2012.

Players to watch:

Matt Frawley, Jr., RP,

Kyle Johnson, Sr., CF,

Kyle Wood, Sr., 1B,

Notable games:

2/19 @Georgia Tech (Atlanta Invitational)

2/26 @Cal

2/27 @Cal

2/28 @Cal (The Golden Bears must be doing a tour of the B1G this year)

3/13 @Kansas

3/23 Louisville, sorry...Buttgers Scarlet Knights

Rutgers baseball does exist and yes, before you say it, they are not good. Although I was going to rail on them more but upon doing more research they weren't toooo bad in the AAC and even played Louisville in the conference championship game prior to jumping over to the B1G. Also, Rutgers must love Miami, FL since this is the third year in a row they are leading things off in that city.

Players to watch:

Howie Brey, Sr., SP

Mike Carter, Jr., OF

Tom Marcinczyk, Jr., OF

Notable games:

2/19 @Miami
2/20 @Miami
2/21 @Miami

Wisconsin Badgers

Players to watch:

Joe Cooper, Sr. SP
Doug Remer, Sr. 1B
Squeak Scolari, Fr. C

Notable games:

2/19 @Greendale Community College Human Beings
3/15 Kenosha Comets
4/20 Point Place Junior College MaryJanes

This team has had some ups and downs last year but are poised to do some dam--

-seriously why the fuck do you not have a baseball team Wisconsin!!!

Field of Dreams is a film produced in 1989 by Universal Pictures, and even though it portrays the state of Iowa in a positive light it is still the pre-eminent baseball film out there. If you haven't seen it or even don't like baseball still give it a chance and go watch it due to James Earl Jones alone.

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