The Spartans throttled Penn State 16-1 on Thursday in their series opener, and the two teams meet again at 2:05 p.m. today. It remains clear for MSU that a sweep gets it into the Big Ten Tournament, thanks in part to a fortunate schedule quirk.
Finishing with the last-place Nittany Lions is a break for the Spartans. The other top six teams in the conference are all playing each other this weekend. Ohio State defeated Indiana to move into a tie for first place on Thursday. Illinois topped Minnesota and Michigan edged Nebraska, meaning the Illini and Wolverines remain in a tie for fifth place. Those series continue today and Saturday as well.
Winning percentage will determine who makes the field for the six-team Big Ten Tournament, which runs May 22-25 at Target Field in Minneapolis. Here’s a look at what can happen in the final two days of the regular season, broken down by the possible winning percentages.
- .7083 – Indiana or Ohio State with 2 wins
- .6667 – Nebraska and Minnesota with 2 wins; Indiana and Ohio State with 1 win
- .6250 – Michigan and Illinois with 2 wins; Nebraska with 1 win; Ohio State or Indiana with 0 wins
- .6190 – MSU with 2 wins; Minnesota with 1 win
- .5833 – Nebraska with 0 wins; Michigan and Illinois with 1 win
- .5714 – MSU with 1 win, Minnesota with 0 wins
- .5466 - Michigan and Illinois with 0 wins
- .5238 – MSU with 0 wins.
The Spartans are assured of getting in with two more wins, since the series cancellation at Minnesota cut three games off their conference schedule and skews their percentages favorably compared to most other teams. Lose one to Penn State, and MSU still can make the Big Ten tourney field – but it will need some help.
Even though the Spartans say they won’t be scoreboard watching, there will be plenty of it the next two days around the entire Big Ten. Only Indiana and Ohio State have booked their reservations for Minneapolis. Buckle up for a wild finish.
Also, here’s my feature on senior pitcher Andrew Waszak, the No. 1 pitcher in MSU’s rotation who turned in another stellar outing in Thursday’s win. Junior right-hander David Garner throws today for the Spartans.