clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2017 B1G Baseball Season Preview

College baseball is back! Who will be the teams and players to watch for this season in another B1G installment of America's pastime.

This is pretty much the only pic that shows up when searching for B1G baseball so get used to it
This is pretty much the only pic that shows up when searching for B1G baseball so get used to it
Greg Fiume/Getty Images
February.  In most minds February means a winter chill and shoveling snow for days on end.  To others it represents love and passion for a special someone.  To me, however, it means something baseball begins.  This weekend will start the 2017 season for teams across the nation as well as our beloved B1G here on the home front.  Before we check in on each team let's look back on what went down last year. 

2016 Recap

After a momentous 2015 season where the B1G made a splash nationally it was understandable if things waned a little bit in 2016.  What the season lacked in pizzaz though it made up for in a  compelling wide open race.  Michigan and MSU both started off the season racking up boatloads of wins and got some early attention from the polls.  Over time Minnesota, Nebraska, Indiana, and later aOSU would fight back and things would not be decided until the final weekend where the Gophers prevailed as the regular season champs.  Going into the tournament the Buckeyes were one of the hottest teams in the nation let alone the B1G and aOSU rode that momentum to the tournament title. The Gophers, Buckeyes, and Huskers were the three teams selected to continue on in the NCAAs were all three were defeated in their respective regionals.

2017 Preview

Coming into this year it is expected to be a similar wide open race but with with a few new faces vying for the top.  Maryland is currently the only school ranked in the top 25 and is picked to win the conference by the B1G coaches.  Closely behind though are Michigan and Nebraska who are fielding well balanced teams.  Indiana, Minnesota, and Iowa are also picked to finish in the top half of the conference.  Indiana has an extra incentive since this year's tournament will be in Bloomington later in May.

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

Illinois -

The Illini just missed out on the B1G tournament last year which had to be a little disappointing after hosting a super regional in 2015.  They do have some good senior leadership in Hammond and McInerney which will be a benefit to this young Illinois team.  The annual grudge match with the Tigers is on tap as well as taking on the defending NCAA champion Coastal Carolina.

Players to watch:

Trent Hammond, INF, Sr., Illinois

Pat McInerney, INF, Sr., Illinois

Doran Turchin, OF, So., Illinois

Notable non-con games:
2/25 Houston
2/26 Missouri
3/10 - 3/12 Coastal Carolina
4/4 Missouri

Indiana -

Last year the non-con portion of the season was kind of rough but Indiana still piled up wins once getting into B1G play. As mentioned earlier the Hoosiers have extra motivation this year due to the B1G tournament being hosted in their home stadium.  They'll use that motivation with the big bats of Dedelow, Miller, and Sowers to try and take home some sort of hardware at the end of the season.

Players to watch:

Craig Dedelow, OF., Sr., Indiana

Luke Miller, So., INF, Indiana

Logan Sowers, OF, Jr., Indiana

Notable non-con games:
2/17 - 2/20 Gonzaga/Duke/Oregon State
5/9 Kentucky
5/16 Louisville

Iowa -

The Hawkeyes crashed the party in the B1G tournament last year and almost got the NCAA auto-bid but lost to aOSU in the title game.  Iowa will try to make similar noise this year behind the talents of senior pitcher Nick Gallagher and infielder Mason McCoy. After a decent non-con last year there are some slim pickings this time around but they do take on Big XII foe and the Great Plains version of purple wildcats.

Players to watch:

Nick Gallagher, SP, Jr., Iowa

Mason McCoy, INF, Sr., Iowa

Robert Neustrom, OF, So., Iowa

Notable non-con games:
3/17-3/19 KSU

Maryland -

Being the pre-season favorites as well as the only ranked B1G team there are high hopes for the Terps this season.  That ranking will be put to the test early though as Maryland has the toughest non-con by far with multiple ranked decent programs they'll have to face before B1G play.  This team in on the younger side but talented as evidenced by Costes and Dunn.

Players to watch:

Marty Costes, OF, So., Maryland

Nick Dunn, INF, So., Maryland

Kevin Smith, INF, Jr., Maryland

Notable non-con games:

2/18 Louisville (Clearwater Tourney)
2/24 - 2/26 LSU
3/3 NC St. (Irish Classic)
3/4 Notre Dame (Irish Classic)
3/14 UNC
3/11 West Virginia

Michigan -

Barely missing out on the selection for the NCAAs last year had to sting a little considering the Wolverines started off the season great and were tabbed the preseason favorites.  This year they aren't picked to win it all but are still a team to be reckoned with since they are have some upperclassmen talent in juniors Bivens, Jaskie, and Lugbauer.  An early loaded tournament in Los Angeles as well as a mid-season bout with OU will be some good tests for this squad.

Players to watch:

Jake Bivens, INF, Jr., Michigan

Oliver Jaskie, SP, Jr., Michigan

Drew Lugbauer, INF, Jr., Michigan

Notable non-con games:
2/25 Creighton (Gifford Tournament)
3/3-3/5 UCLA/USC/San Diego (Dodgertown Classic)
4/4 Notre Dame
4/13-4/15 Oklahoma

Michigan State -

The Spartans built a great record early in the season last year (possibly due to weaker competition) but then couldn't keep the same pace during B1G play.  MSU will use the services of senior catcher Matt Byars behind the plate as well as dual threat Alex Troop who can both hit (.372 AVG) and do work on the mound (3-0 with a 1.64 ERA).  They'll be tested in early March against the two top programs in the Palmetto state.

Players to watch:

Matt Byars, C, Sr., Michigan State

Brandon Hughes, OF, Jr., Michigan State

Alex Troop, UTIL, So., Michigan State

Notable non-con games:
3/8 Clemson
3/10-3/12 South Carolina
4/11 - Notre Dame

Minnesota -

The defending B1G regular season champs hope to continue their reign as top dog in the conference but will have some stiff competition.  The Gophers will be up for the challenge though with Coffey who had 42 RBIs to go with his .333 AVG and Vavra who added a 20 RBIs/.358 AVG stat line of his own.

Players to watch:

Micah Coffey, INF, Jr., Minnesota

Lucas Gilbreath, SP, Jr., Minnesota

Terrin Vavra, INF, So., Minnesota

Notable non-con games:
2/17-2/19 UC Irvine
3/10-3/12 Missouri State
3/14 Cal
3/28-3/29 KU
5/12-5/14 Long Beach St.

Nebraska -

Nebraska brings a balanced bunch to the season in that they have some decent arms to go with some great offensive production.  2016 Big Ten Freshman of the Year Chad Luensmann leads the way of a deep pitching staff which includes Jake Meyers (who has a knack for hitting/fielding as well).  Scott Schreiber adds to the offensive side of things hitting .325 last year before going down before postseason play.  There isn't much of a non-con slate outside of the early tournaments but boy are those tournaments some doozies.

Players to watch:

Chad Luensmann, RP, So., Nebraska

Jake Meyers, UTIL, Jr., Nebraska

Scott Schreiber, OF, Jr., Nebraska

Notable non-con games:
2/23-2/26 Oregon St./Utah (B1G/Pac 12 Challenge) join aOSU
3/3-3/5 Okie Lite/Arkansas/Arizona (Frisco Classic)
3/28 KSU
4/4 Creighton
4/11 KSU
4/18 Creighton
5/10 Creighton

Northwestern -

The Wildcats are still breaking in their new digs and coach so they are still trying to build something on the shores of Lake Michigan.  NW does have some veteran leadership to help this in Bordignon, Hopfner, and Schindler.  There is not much in terms of non-con games but the Wildcats kick things off against the Sun Devils opening weekend.

Players to watch:

Tommy Bordignon, SP, Jr., Northwestern

Matt Hopfner, INF/OF, Sr., Northwestern

Joe Schindler, SP, Sr., Northwestern

Notable non-con games:
2/17-2/19 ASU

Ohio St. -

The B1G tournament champs lost a lot to the draft and graduation but still have hopes to continue the success they enjoyed in the latter part of the '16 season.  The Buckeyes will lean on the leadership of Kinker, Pavlopoulos, and Washington to get this done.

Players to watch:

Seth Kinker, RP, Jr., Ohio State

Yianni Pavlopoulos, SP/RP, Jr., Ohio State

Jalen Washington, INF, Sr., Ohio State

Notable non-con games:
2/17 & 2/19 KSU
2/23-2/26 Oregon St./Utah (B1G/Pac 12 Challenge)
5/2-5/3 Texas Tech


The Nits missed out on the B1G tournament in the last weekend of the regular season but do bring back a lot of young talent considering PSU had a decent amount of newbies win the freshman of the week award.  Last year PSU fought valiantly against TCU in some close losses and will start the season off against the #1 Horned Frogs for 2017.

Players to watch:

Sal Biasi, SP, Jr., Penn State

Willie Burger, IF, So., Penn State

Nick Riotto, OF, Sr., Penn State

Notable non-con games:
2/17-2/19 TCU
3/22 West Virginia
5/9 West Virginia

Purdue -

The only way to go is up for the Boilermakers considering they juuuust barely got to double digit wins last season.  The mid-week bout with the Cardinals is the only real non-con game of note but Purdue is probably more focused on just getting Ws at this point however they can get them.

Players to watch:

Tanner Andrews, SP, Jr., Purdue

Nick Dalesandro, C, So., Purdue

Jacson McGowan, UTIL, So., Purdue

Notable non-con games:
4/11 Louisville

Rutgers -

For the fourth year in a row the Scarlet Knights will be in Coral Gables to start the season.  They may not get a lot of wins on these trips to South Beach but when you can work on your tan in February who the hell cares.  The K-nig-hts also will take on another ACC powerhouse Virginia next week.

Players to watch:

Jawuan Harris, OF, So., Rutgers

John O’Reilly, SP, Jr., Rutgers

Kevin Welsh, INF, Fr., Rutgers

Notable non-con games:
2/17-2/19 Miami
2/24-2/26 Virginia

Wisconsin -


Players to watch courtesy of &