The week that was B1G Baseball, June 27

On to 2016, the Big Ten Tournament returns to Omaha.

On to 2016, when the Big Ten Tournament returns to Omaha.

With Virginia’s 4-2 win over Vanderbilt, Wednesday night, the 2015 college baseball season came to an end. A banner year for the Big Ten, the conference saw a College World Series final played between the two teams which knocked out its last standing teams, Maryland, falling in the Charlottesville Super Regional to Virginia, and Illinois, unable to turn back Vanderbilt for a spot in Omaha, knocked off in the Champaign Super Regional.

All attention and effort now towards the 2016 season, here’s a roundup of news regarding Big Ten programs over the last week.

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Northwestern names Spencer Allen head coach

It’s been quite a year for Spencer Allen.

In his return to the Big Ten, joining the staff of Illinois head coach Dan Hartleb last July, Allen helped guide the Illini to a school-record 50-win season, a consensus top ten ranking, a Big Ten championship, NCAA regional championship and NCAA Tournament national seed. Less than a week after Illinois fell two wins shy of advancing to the College World Series, Allen says goodbye to Champaign, heading up the road to Evanston as the next head coach for Northwestern University.

On Sunday, June 14, 2015, Northwestern Vice President for Athletics and Recreation Jim Phillips announced, that Allen will take over the Wildcat program as its 26th head coach.

“To be named the head baseball coach and join the Northwestern University family is a tremendous honor and opportunity,” said Allen. “The combination of a highly regarded athletic department and a prestigious academic institution was very appealing to me. My family and I are extremely excited for this new opportunity at Northwestern.”

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Conference-record 5 teams in NCAA Tournament field

The 2015 season began with Baseball America and D1Baseball each predicting four Big Ten teams to reach the NCAA Tournament. An expected banner season, the Big Ten exceeded all expectations.

Led by Illinois, the No. 6 tournament national seed making¬†a fourth consecutive year with a Big Ten program hosting a regional, five Big Ten teams will play in an NCAA regional, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan and joining the conference champion Illini. Five teams nearly doubles the Big Ten’s best prior output when the conference sent three teams into the field of 64 in 1999, 2000 and 2007.

Now the road to Omaha begins, the five teams looking to reach the College World Series, to play for a national championship. The last Big Ten team to play in the College World Series was Indiana in 2013, the Hoosiers ending a 30-season dry spell for the conference, Michigan in 1984 the last team prior. The last national championship for a Big Ten program came in 1966, Ohio State

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BTN addresses Big Ten Tournament broadcast schedule


Many expect the 2015 Big Ten baseball tournament to be the best year. With the eight-team field expected to be composed of exclusively RPI top 80 teams, every club will be vying for NCAA Tournament at-large berth, while a national seed and regional hosting opportunity also on the line.

With the conference tournament expanding from a six-team tournament, last year saw the first two opening-day games, then the ensuing next-day two loser-bracket contests viewed only by those in attendance, BTN, a joint-venture between the Big Ten Conference (49%) and Fox Entertainment Group (51%), did not air the four games, its broadcast schedule set in six-team format.

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Dickinson, Stafford lead elite pitching staffs


Ohio State pitching coach Mike Stafford, left, has the Buckeyes with the country’s No. 7 ERA

The numbers are staggering, statistics where one couldn’t be blamed for believing what’s read is a typo. Entering this weekend’s series between Illinois and Ohio State, the two nationally-ranked teams are led by two of the nation’s top pitching staffs.

The 2.31 collective ERA of Illini pitchers rank fifth in the county, Ohio State’s 2.59 mark is the seventh-lowest.¬†Illinois is the nation’s fourth-best team in WHIP, Ohio State 14th and the Illini are the No. 3 team in strikeout-to-walk ratio, the Buckeyes No.14. Each team features an elite staff with the microscopic numbers fueling the ranking next to each team’s name.

With the two most recent Big Ten Freshmen of the Year toeing the rubber to open the series, Illinois junior left-hander Kevin Duchene squaring off against Ohio State sophomore southpaw Tanner Tully, runs are expected to be at a premium. As a clash with conference championship and national tournament seeding implications is set to begin, the men behind the prolific pitching prowess, Illinois assistant coach Drew Dickinson and Ohio State assistant coach Mike Stafford, are far from alike but each has arrived at the same point, leading a premier unit.

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