College : : Story
Monday, January 23, 2012

Next northern hope

Kendall Rogers        

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By now, the Big Ten and all of its college baseball programs are tired of hearing about how the conference has failed the past several years to make a significant imprint on the national stage.

Michigan has had some moments in the last decade. The Wolverines hosted an NCAA Regional in Ann Arbor, Mich., with Arizona as the No. 1 seed. They also defeated Vanderbilt in an NCAA Regional when the Commodores were the top national seed.

But outside of those accomplishments and an occasional Minnesota postseason triumph, the Big Ten continues to look for a presence on the national stage. The league continues to make strides from a facilities standpoint, and fan support is increasing.

Still, when it comes to the national picture, observers want results. After all, the last Big Ten club to reach the College World Series was Michigan in 1984. Additionally, much hype was placed on Ohio State in 2010. That year, the Buckeyes finished what was supposed to be a promising campaign with a 28-23 record, seventh-place league finish.

Perhaps Purdue, which is favored to win the Big Ten, will turn the tide of the conference with a strong 2012 campaign.

“I’d like to think this is going to be a good year for the Big Ten,” Purdue coach Doug Schreiber said. “A lot of teams in this league have some pitching back and you now add Nebraska to the mix, we’re going to be expecting multiple NCAA at-large bids.”

Before Purdue talks competing for an NCAA Regional or NCAA Super Regional, Schreiber and the Boilermakers primarily are focused – at least for now – on competing for the Big Ten regular season title, a feat that hasn’t been accomplished since 1909. To put that in perspective, Purdue began baseball in 1888.

With that said, there are plenty of reasons to feel good about this year’s Purdue club, is knocking on the door to the PG Top 25 rankings entering this season.

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