After sweeping Rutgers over the weekend, Maryland baseball gave itself a huge boost in the Big Ten standings. The Terps, who now stand at 9-11 in conference play, gave themselves the upper hand over both the Scarlet Knights and Michigan State, who held the final spot in the Big Ten tournament entering last Friday.
Right now, the Terps hold the No. 8 seed; if they hold onto it, they’ll make the conference tournament. Here’s how the rest of the standings shake out.
Who Maryland can’t catch
Minnesota (16-4), Michigan (15-5), Purdue (14-6), Ohio State (13-8) and Illinois (13-8) all have at least 13 wins. With nine wins and only three games left, Maryland can get to a maximum of 12 wins. Therefore, the Terps’ best-case scenario is getting the No. 6 seed.
Who’s mathematically eliminated
Northwestern (6-18) and Penn State (3-18) are the only two teams officially eliminated from tournament play.
The most important fact to know is that, after winning the season series 2-1, Maryland has the tiebreaker over Michigan State. Since the two teams are tied for the eighth spot with a 9-11 conference record, Maryland has the leg up. As long as Michigan State mirrors Maryland’s production this weekend, the Terps should be fine. However, it still needs to win the series vs. Indiana to have a good chance at making the tournament.
Now, what does Maryland need to do to make the tournament?
If Maryland sweeps this weekend...
Then it clinches a spot in the tournament. Very simply, Maryland plays Indiana this weekend, and a sweep would jump the Terps ahead of the Hoosiers, who hold the sixth seed with an 11-9 record. Also, this would take Michigan State out of Maryland’s picture, as the Spartans can’t do better than a sweep.
If Maryland wins two games...
Then it should get in, but it needs a little help. At 11-9, Indiana only needs one win this weekend to clinch a spot in the tournament, as it would have more wins than the Terps and a tiebreaker over Michigan State. Maryland would have 11 wins and would need either Michigan State to lose once to Ohio State, or Iowa—who stands at 10-9 entering the weekend—to get swept against last-place Penn State.
If Maryland wins one game...
Then it needs serious help. Since Iowa already has a 1.5 game lead over Maryland for the seventh spot, the Terps would only be able to clinch the eighth and final spot in the tournament. Maryland would need Michigan State to lose its series against Ohio State. However, this scenario also brings 7-12 Nebraska into play. If the Cornhuskers sweep Illinois, they get to 10-12 and would have the advantage over the Terps, who would sit at 10-13.
If Maryland gets swept...
Then it’s in big trouble. Michigan State would only need one win to clinch a spot over the Terps, and Nebraska could jump Maryland with two victories itself. Additionally, this is the only way Rutgers, at 7-14, is brought into the conversation. If the Scarlet Knights sweep Minnesota at home, their potential 10-14 record would be better than Maryland’s potential 9-14 record.
Basically, the Terps only need to worry about themselves this weekend. Since they currently hold the edge for the final spot, they can play their game without scoreboard-watching too much. However, Maryland still needs to execute, or else it will need help. The Terps return to action Thursday night in Bloomington.