Ending the regular season against Northwestern, the Ohio State Buckeyes already know where they're headed. They'll play in the Big Ten tournament after the season ends. If they can beat Northwestern, they might wind up in fifth in the standings. Currently, they're at number six, which would land them in a matchup with a top-three team. The top-three teams are all considered powerhouses, and a first-round matchup could doom Ohio State baseball from the start.
OSU Needs to Beat Northwestern
Northwestern sports a week 5-15 record in the Big Ten. However, the team has been decent on offense this year. Their pitching staff has suffered from a myriad of injuries, though. A team can't win games if they can't prevent runs from being scored. In baseball, a weak pitching squad usually trumps an above average offense. The team will need to come in firing on all cylinders to end the season. Otherwise, OSU will prove insurmountable.
Victory Would Mean Favorable Tournament Matchups
For Ohio State, beating Northwestern is a major priority. Landing the fifth rank in the standings defeats the potential for a first-round matchup against a top-three team. OSU isn't a powerhouse team by any means this season. To go deep into the tournament, they'll need to face a weaker opponent first and build momentum. Facing a team closer in the standings to themselves will pay off in the tournament. Inconsistent offense has hurt the team this season.
A third straight winning season looks likely for Ohio State. In the end, OSU can't advance in Omaha without putting up big numbers on the scoreboard. Beating Northwestern could give the team momentum going in, which is always preferable. Then again, a loss would kill the momentum and give the team tougher opponents immediately. No baseball team wants to get bumped from the tournament in their first matchup.
Northwestern at Ohio State - Baseball Highlights