Michigan to Host 2006 Big Ten Tournament
May 21, 2006
PARK RIDGE, IL - The University of Michigan will serve as host of the 2006 Big Ten Baseball Tournament after clinching the school's league-leading 33rd conference title and the first since 1997. The Wolverines will welcome Illinois, Minnesota, Northwestern, Ohio State and Purdue to Ray Fisher Stadium in Ann Arbor for the 26th annual event, which will be held next week from Wednesday, May 24, through Saturday, May 27.
The race for the Big Ten title was decided late Saturday evening as Michigan took its third-straight game against Iowa to clinch the No. 1 seed and host duties. The Wolverines captured a 3-1 win Sunday in Ann Arbor to complete the 4-0 sweep over the Hawkeyes, giving the Maize and Blue a conference record of 23-9 and a school record for league wins. Earlier in the day, Northwestern, which was tied with Michigan for the Big Ten lead entering this weekend, was eliminated from the title race after it dropped its second of three games to Purdue in West Lafayette. The Wildcats rebounded on Sunday with a 14-9 win against the Boilermakers and will enter the conference tournament as the No. 2 seed at 21-11. Both Michigan and Northwestern earned first-round byes and will begin play on Thursday, May 25.
The remaining four teams in the 2006 Big Ten Tournament were also finalized over the weekend, as the final seeding came down to the one of the final games of the year on Sunday. Ohio State (19-12 in conference action) took three of four games at home against Penn State to claim sole possession of third place and earn the No. 3 seed. Minnesota (17-14) won its series over Indiana this weekend and clinched the fourth seed for the postseason tournament. With a convincing win over Michigan State on Sunday, Illinois locked up an invitation to the Big Ten Tournament, but could not learn its seed until the conclusion of the Northwestern-Purdue game. With a loss at home to Northwestern on Sunday, Purdue finished tied for fifth with Illinois at 15-17 in league play. With the Illini and Boilermakers splitting their four-game series in April, the tiebreak was decided by compiling both teams' winning percentage over all Big Ten Tournament participants. Illinois was 9-11 (.450) against the other teams while Purdue, which played all tournament teams with exception of Minnesota, was 6-10 (.375), thus giving the Illini the fifth seed and the Boilermakers the sixth and final spot.
The 2006 Big Ten Tournament will open on Wednesday, May 24, as No. 4 Minnesota will battle No. 5 Illinois before No. 3 Ohio State takes on No. 6 Purdue. The top two seeds begin play on Thursday, May 25, as No. 2 Northwestern will face the highest-seeded winner from Wednesday and No. 1 Michigan will square off against the lowest-seeded winner from Wednesday. The Tournament winner is granted the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Championship.