2004 Big Ten Baseball Tournament Preview
May 24, 2004
The 24th annual Big Ten Baseball Tournament will run from May 26-29 (Wednesday through Saturday) in Minneapolis, Minnesota, as the Golden Gophers won the regular-season Conference crown to earn the right to host the event. The top six teams in the final regular-season standings are invited to the Tournament with the winner earning an automatic berth into the NCAA Championship.
A Slight Change: This year's Big Ten Tournament bracket will feature a minor change approved by the coaches last fall. In the past two years, the top two seeds received first-round byes and then had the opportunity to receive a second bye if they lost their first game, which the coaches believed was an unfair advantage. Beginning in 2004, if either the No. 1 or 2 seed loses its first game, that team will automatically play in game six and the team that has not received a bye (the No. 3-6 seed) will play in game seven. If both the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds win (or lose), the same procedure will be followed as in years past.
2004 Big Ten Tournament On Web
2004 Big Ten Tournament On TV
BIG TEN TOURNAMENT NOTES
From 1981-99, only four Conference squads qualified for Big Ten Tournament play. All tournaments since have included six League teams. First-round byes for the top two teams were instituted in 2002.
Minnesota is hosting the Tournament for the fourth time in the past five seasons, as the Gophers welcomed six teams to Siebert Field in 2000, 2002 and 2003.
The Gophers have now hosted the tourney six times: 2004, 2003, 2002, 2000, 1986 and 1984
Minnesota has never won the Big Ten Tournament when serving as host, as the Gophers' best finish when hosting the event came in 1986, 2002 and 2003 when the school placed second. The program has posted a record of 8-10 in home tourney games.
With a berth in 2004, Ohio State has now qualified for each of the last eight Tournaments, the longest current streak of any team and equal to the school record of eight straight appearances set from 1988-95. Minnesota ranks second among current streaks with seven straight appearances in the Big Ten Tournament, just one shy of the school record of eight straight berths set from 1981-88.
Michigan is the only Big Ten program to boast a longer streak of tourney bids, as the Wolverines qualified in each of the first nine years of the event from 1981-89.
Either Minnesota or Ohio State has appeared in every Big Ten Tournament with the exception of the 1996 event.
The 2004 Tournament features four of the six teams that played in last year's event in Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio State and Penn State.
Michigan, the winningest team in Big Ten Tournament history, is making its 16th showing in the postseason event and first back-to-back appearances since the 1996-97 campaigns.
Michigan State returns to the Big Ten Tournament for the seventh time overall and the second time in three years, as the Spartans went 1-2 in the 2002 affair. MSU's best finishes in the event are a pair of second-place showings in 1988 and 1992.
Purdue ends a two-year drought with its first Big Ten Tournament berth since making consecutive appearances in 2000 and 2001. The Boilermakers rank fifth among League teams with nine appearances and boast a top finish of second place in 1987. Penn State will be taking part in its sixth Big Ten Tournament and fourth in the past five years, highlighted by a second-place finish in 2000.
Of the 2004 field, Michigan, Minnesota and Ohio State have combined for 55 total Tournament appearances and 19 titles -- Michigan State, Penn State and Purdue have combined for 22 appearances and no crowns.
Minnesota leads all Big Ten teams in tourney titles (7), appearances (21) and wins (42).
Michigan leads all Conference schools in winning percentage (.604, 32-21) followed by Minnesota (.600, 42-28) and Ohio State (.589, 33-23).
Four Big Ten teams have won 22 of the 23 Tournament titles in Minnesota (7), Michigan (6), Ohio State (6) and Illinois (3). Indiana is the only other school to win a Tournament, claiming the crown in 1996.
NOTING BIG TEN BASEBALL
Gophers Hurler Wins Triple Crown: Minnesota sophomore Glen Perkins became just the third hurler in Big Ten history to claim the triple crown by leading the League in earned run average, won-lost record and strikeouts. He is the first Gopher to accomplish that feat, joining Michigan's Ross Powell (1989; 1.53 ERA, 7-0 record, 53 K's) and Illinois' Tom Fletcher (1962; 0.40 ERA, 5-0 record, 42 K's). Perkins was a perfect 7-0 on the year and is now 15-0 in his career in Conference play after setting a Big Ten record with an unblemished 8-0 mark in his first season on campus. The reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year produced a 1.88 ERA while racking up 62 punchouts. He is the first Gopher to lead the Conference in won-lost record in back-to-back seasons since Mike Pavelka posted consecutive 4-0 marks in 1987 and 1988. The last Minnesota pitcher to win the ERA crown was Ben Birk in 2000 while Mike Diebolt was the most recent to lead the way in strikeouts with 63 in 1997. Northwestern's J.A. Happ, who topped the League in ERA as a freshman in 2002 (out of the bullpen), equaled Perkins for the Big Ten lead with 62 strikeouts in nearly 10 fewer innings. He is the first Wildcat to lead the Conference in K's since Grady Hall struck out 33 batters in 1986.
Big Ten Batting Leaders: With the Big Ten season concluded, players from four different Conference teams stepped up to lead the League in the hitting categories. Northwestern's Mark Ori became just the second Wildcat since 1957 to top the Big Ten in batting average as the first baseman posted a .412 average. The last NU student-athlete to led the League was Kurt Bruksch with a .442 average in 1977. Minnesota's Andy Hunter racked up a Big Ten-best 35 runs batted in, the most in Conference play since fellow-Gopher Matt Scanlon posted 39 RBI in 1999, as he is the most recent UM standout to lead the way in this category. The state of Indiana dominated the long ball competition as Indiana's Seth Bynum and Purdue's John Hunter tied for the top spot with seven home runs. Bynum is the second straight Hoosier to lead the way in long balls as former teammate Vasili Spanos knocked out eight homers last year. The last Boilermaker to top the League in home runs was Terry Wedgewood, who claimed the triple crown in 1971 while recording six round-trippers.
Hitting the Books: Three Big Ten baseball student-athletes were named to 2004 CoSIDA Academic All-District teams in two different districts. The honored players were Ohio State's Cody Caughenbaugh in District IV and Indiana's Ryan Parker and Minnesota's Andy Hunter from District V. Parker and Hunter were First Team selections and are now eligible for Academic All-America honors, as their names will be added to the national ballot. To be nominated for Academic All-District honors, a student-athlete must be a starter or key reserve and carry a cumulative grade point average of 3.20 or higher. Team members are selected by a vote of members of the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) within the district. The 2004 CoSIDA Academic All-America team will be announced on June 1.