Back at the ball

FIRST-ROUND MATCHUPS

No. 3 Michigan (29-25, 16-14) vs. No. 6 Indiana (33-20, 16-15)

The Wolverines heated up as the Big Ten season went on and find themselves in prime position to make some noise with their high-octane offense. Jake Fox leads the Big Ten in home runs (15) and RBIs (63). Both Fox and Brock Koman (.364, 54 RBIs) will be tough outs for the Hoosiers’ lackluster starting rotation that features just one starter among the conference’s top 20 in ERA. Indiana’s Vasili Spanos leads the Big Ten in batting average, slugging percentage and on-base percentage.

The Daily’s Pick: Michigan

No. 4 Penn State (26-26, 17-15) vs. No. 5 NU (25-23, 15-14)

NU comes in having dropped five of its last seven conference matches, but the Wildcats are a confident bunch. Dan Konecny and J.A. Happ are one of the conference’s best pitching tandems, and the rest of the staff has proved to be dependable if Konecny or Happ falter. The Nittany Lions took three out of four from the Cats in State College, Pa., but NU has made strides since then, including a sweep of Illinois. Neither team has overwhelming offense, but the Penn State starting rotation is a weak spot that the Cats must exploit in order to win. After ace Jim Farrell, Penn State does not have one starter with a winning record.

The Daily’s Pick: NU

FIRST-ROUND BYES

No. 1 Minnesota (37-18, 24-6 Big Ten)

The Golden Gophers are hosting the championships for the second straight year.Minnesota blew away the rest of the competition this season, finishing five games ahead of second-place Ohio State. The Golden Gophers’ bats aren’t overpowering — they rank ninth in the Big Ten with 27 home runs — but they bat .330 as a team. Ace Glen Perkins is 9-1 on the year with an ERA of 2.75.

No. 2 Ohio State (37-18, 20-12)

The Buckeyes finished second in the conference largely because of the phenomenal pitching of Big Ten Pitcher of the Year Scott Lewis. The sophomore’s ERA of 1.61 is more than full run ahead of the next closest Big Ten starter (Perkins at 2.75), and Lewis also struck out nearly 1.5 batters per inning. Ohio State’s offense is of some concern, having finished eighth in the conference in runs scored.

The Daily’s pick to win it all: Minnesota