By the end of the weekend, Indiana baseball will have a much better idea of whether the 2014 Big Ten Conference race will be a runaway or a competitive grind.
The Hoosiers, winners of 14 of their last 15 games overall and nine consecutive Big Ten games, travel to Illinois for a three-game series which begins with a 7 p.m. ET game on Friday night.
The Hoosiers will lead off with their pitching ace in the opener on Friday as senior lefty Joey DeNato will face Illini righthander Drasen Johnson. DeNato is 8-1 with a 2.12 ERA this season. He has won his last five decisions and is 4-0 in conference play. DeNato was honored as the Big Ten's co-pitcher of the week last week, his second such honor this season and third of his career. Johnson is 4-4 with a 2.30 ERA.
Sophomore Christian Morris will throw for the Hoosiers in a 4 p.m. ET start on Saturday and Brian Korte will go for the Hoosiers on the Sunday 2 p.m. ET start. A note for IU fans thinking about making the trip to Champaign is that admission is free for Illinois home games.
Indiana is coming off a 10-1 victory over Ball State Wednesday at Bart Kaufman Field. The win concluded a nine-game homestand for Indiana in which the Hoosiers went 8-1.
But the Hoosiers have been good on the road, too. IU has won eight consecutive Big Ten road games dating back to the end of last season. Indiana is 6-0 in conference road games this season with sweeps of Iowa and Ohio State.
Follow Terry Hutchens on Twitter at @foxsportshutch with tweets on Friday's first game at Illinois. AllHoosiers.com will be live in Champaign for the game.