For what has been a refreshingly successful campaign for Erik Bakich and the Michigan Wolverines baseball program, this coming week will be more important than any other so far. It includes two match ups with Michigan State, and the all-important Big Ten tournament in Bloomington, Indiana. This year’s regular season Big Ten title and tournament crown are up for grabs, and Michigan is looking to capture both.
The Wolverines are currently third in the Big Ten standings (14-8), but hold the best overall record (40-13). The Wolverines currently sit behind Minnesota, who is in first place, and Nebraska, who is right on the heels of the Golden Gophers. If Michigan is able to sweep the weekend series with Michigan State, this could set them up in great position to win the conference, depending on the play of both Minnesota and Nebraska.
Although not tested on neutral ground very frequently, Michigan has played well on these sites, and has also established itself as a team that can win on the road. These qualities will largely come into play next week.
Michigan will most likely enter the tournament as the two or three seed, initially setting them up for some of the weaker teams in the conference. If the tournament began today, the Wolverines would meet with the host, the Indiana Hoosiers, who are currently sixth.
Behind the play of five-tool outfielder Johnny Slater, the Wolverines have established a respectable resume with wins over Oklahoma, USC and UC Santa Barbara, among others. How will Bakich prepare his team for the gauntlet of this coming week?