The Illinois Fighting Illini will play their second game of the Big Ten Tournament today against the Michigan Wolverines. The 2013 Big Ten Tournament is being hosted at Target Field in Minnesota (the home of the Minnesota Twins).
The Illini came into the conference tournament on a very positive note, but all that went south in their tournament opener against Minnesota. The Illini lost to the Golden Gophers, 3-2, and were 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
The Michigan Wolverines come into today’s game after losing to the Nebraska Cornhuskers, 11-2, on Wednesday. The Wolverines came into the conference tournament with an overall record of 29-26 and a Big Ten Conference record of 14-10.
Offensively, the Wolverines are led by Michael O’Neill, Jacob Cronenworth, and Travis Maezes.
All three of these players are hitting over .300 this season and lead the team in hits, home runs, slugging percentage, and at-bats.
Although, the unsung leader of this Michigan team seems to be Michael O’Neill.
He leads the team in hits (83), runs (45), doubles (17), homers (5), total bases (115), and slugging percentage (.491). He also has the most stolen bases on the team (23 for 27).
Illinois has several choices for who they can send to the mound to start today’s game. They can either send Kevin Johnson, John Kravetz, or Ryan Castellanos. The Illini should be in good shape no matter who they send to the mound. However, there biggest improvement will need to be their offense.
On Wednesday, the Illinois offense was not what Illini nation is use to seeing. The Illini recorded eight hits, but left thirteen runners on base. They will need to do a better just hitting with runners in scoring position today against the Wolverines. If they cannt do that, then they could see their NCAA National Tournament bid slip away (doubtful, but could happen).
The winner of this game will face off against the lowest seed loser of Indiana/Minnesota and Ohio State/Nebraska on Friday.
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