With two series to go in the conference season, here is what I would consider a realistic way the IU baseball squad could still get the #2 seed in the conference tournament. Securing a #1 or #2 provides a significant advantage over the other seeds competing in the tournament (keep reading for more details on this advantage). Below I will take a quick look (where they currently rank in the standings) at each of the teams with a viable shot at making the tournament and then close with an explanation as to how the Hoosiers could realistically take that elusive #2 seed.
Conference Record: 14-4
Series Remaining: vs. Ohio State, at Purdue
Projected Finish: 5-1; 19-5 (1st)
The Hoosiers will probably need Illinois to take 2 of 3 (or sweep) Ohio State.
Conference Record: 13-4
Series Remaining: at Michigan, at Penn State
Projected Finish: 4-2, 17-6 (t-2nd)
Michigan's Fetter (2.44 ERA) and Katzman (2.94 ERA) at home will be a tough match-up for Minnesota's offense. I think Michigan has a good chance to win both games with those two guys on the mound, and IU will need this to happen because they can't count on Penn State taking any from Minnesota.
#3 Ohio State
Conference Record: 13-5
Series Remaining: at Illinois, vs. Iowa
Projected Finish: 4-2, 17-7 (4th)
Ohio State should sweep Iowa with little difficulty, and that is why the Hoosiers need Illinois to hand the Buckeyes 2 losses this weekend, thus paving the way for IU to pass them in the standings.
Conference Record: 11-6
Series Remaining: vs. Northwestern, vs. Michigan St.
Projected Finish: 6-0, 17-6 (t-2nd)
The Hoosiers simply need to finish perfect!
#5 Michigan State
Conference Record: 11-7
Series Remaining: vs. Purdue, at Indiana
Projected Finish: 2-4, 13-11 (5th)
The Hoosiers need to hand Michigan State 3 losses in Bloomington the last weekend of the regular season, but I think the Spartans can take 2 of 3 (or sweep) Purdue and secure the 5th seed in the conference tourney.
Conference Record: 7-10
Series Remaining: at Michigan State, vs. Illinois
Projected Finish: 1-5, 8-15
The Hoosiers do not want Purdue to make the tournament as illustrated later in the tiebreaker context.
Conference Record: 7-11
Series Remaining: vs. Minnesota, at Northwestern
Projected Finish: 4-2, 11-13 (6th)
I like Michigan's chances with their two aces on the mound, so I think they get at least 4 wins the rest of the way, opening the door for them to move up a spot and grab the last spot in the tournament.
#8 Penn State
Conference Record: 5-13
Series Remaining: at Iowa, vs. Minnesota
Projected Finish: 4-2, 9-15
It would be nice if Penn State could play spoiler in their last regular season weekend vs. Minnesota as that would help IU immensely. I see the Nittany Lions sweeping lowly Iowa before taking a game at home against Minnesota.
Assuming things play out as outlined above (my track history at this prediction thing is not all that great, but I can still be optimistic!), the tiebreaker between IU and Minnesota would first be head-to-head record (the teams split 1-1). The second tiebreaker is record vs. the top 6. In this case, the Hoosiers need for Purdue to not make the tournament because Minnesota swept Purdue and we only took 1 of 3 from the Boilermakers. If Michigan can take at least 1 (possibly 2) from the Gophers and we sweep Michigan State (assuming they still finish in the top 6), we can still get a #2 seed as IU would then have a better record against the top 6.
Why do we want a #2 seed you ask? Both the #1 and #2 seeded teams get byes in the first round of the tournament. With this bye, the Hoosiers could potentially win the tournament in 3 games behind the arms of Arnett, Bashore, and Monar. Without a bye, the Hoosiers would need to play a minimum of 4 games and would likely have to play 2 straight games against the opposition's #1 starter (i.e. Michigan's Fetter in game 1 and OSU's Wimmers in game 2). A bye would allow Tracy Smith to throw Arnett against another team's #2 pitcher, and in this case, I would take Arnett and the Hoosiers every time!
Chances at #1 seed - Illinois would have to finish 3-3, Ohio State 4-2, and Minnesota 4-2. Purdue is the team we would probably need to help us out in this regard. Illinois would need to take at least 2 of 3 from OSU to assure the Buckeyes get 2 more losses. Purdue would then need to give Illinois 2 more losses. However, we still don't want Purdue to get into the tournament in the event we end up in a tie for second with Minnesota (because then Minnesota takes the tiebreaker and finishes ahead of IU).
So, there is still hope for a #2 seed for the Indiana University baseball Hoosiers! The team just needs to rebound from last weekend and take care of business the rest of the way. It's my favorite time of the season. Things are getting exciting! Go Hoosiers!