From Nebraska media relations department
With three games left in the regular season, the Nebraska baseball team (34-19, 9-12 Big Ten) will start its final Big Ten series of the year on Thursday in Champaign, Ill., against the No. 5 Illinois Fighting Illini (43-6-1, 19-1 Big Ten). The series runs Thursday-Friday-Saturday, with both Thursday and Friday’s games set for 6:05 p.m. Saturday’s regular-season finale is scheduled for 2:05 p.m. Both Friday and Saturday’s games will be carried live nationwide on the Big Ten Network.
Nebraska comes into the series eighth in the Big Ten Conference following a 2-1 series loss to Purdue. Nebraska has struggled of late and is 4-6 in its last 10 games and is just 2-7 on the road during Big Ten play this season.
The Illini are at the opposite end of the spectrum, as they enter the weekend on a 24-game winning streak, which ties them with Texas A&M for the longest winning streak in the nation this season. The Illini have swept a school-record six straight Big Ten series heading into Thursday. Illinois last overall loss and lone conference loss this season came on March 29 at Michigan State, 5-2. The Illini enter the weekend with a 1.5 game lead over Iowa for the Big Ten regular season title. The Hawkeyes wrap up the season with a three game series at Rutgers.
The series will be the fourth between the Huskers and Illini since Nebraska joined the Big Ten for the 2012 season. The Huskers have won each of the first three series between the two teams, including a 2-1 series win in Champaign in 2013. Nebraska and Illinois first met in 1897, with Illinois winning 14-9, and the two clubs didn’t meet again until 2012 when Nebraska hosted Illinois for its first ever Big Ten game on March 23, 2012. The Illini won the opener, 11-3, but the Huskers responded with victories in the final two games to win the series.
Earn a Bid
Following a series loss to Purdue, the Huskers are still in position to reach the 2015 Big Ten Tournament. Nebraska is in search of its fourth straight trip to the postseason tournament, which will be hosted at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minn. Nebraska last qualified for four-straight conference tournaments when they were members of the Big 12, as they made 10 straight tournaments from 1999 to 2008.
Nebraska can lock up a bid to the tournament with one win this weekend at Illinois. If the Huskers win a game, Minnesota can still tie Nebraska in the standing, but the Huskers own the tie breaker over the Gophers since Nebraska won the season series this year.
Without a win this weekend at Illinois, Nebraska can still qualify for the tournament, but would need other teams to lose games as well. If the Huskers are swept this weekend, they would need Minnesota and Penn State to both lose at least one game this weekend to secure a bid. The Gophers host Michigan State, while Penn State finishes the year at Purdue.