(Editor's note: The following was first published on d1baseball.com. The original includes capsule previews of every Big Ten team, top prospects and team by team breakdowns. Use code Save23 for a discounted subscription.)
Although the Big Ten could have easily had four teams make the postseason a year ago, only two teams were selected to compete in the 2022 NCAA tournament. Maryland led the way with a dominant season, both within and outside the conference, leading to the Terps hosting a regional for the first time ever. Michigan enjoyed an impressive run through the Big Ten tournament to claim the league’s automatic bid, beating Illinois, Maryland, Iowa and Rutgers, the tournament’s top four seeds. Maryland lost to UConn in the College Park Regional final and Michigan lost to Louisville in the Louisville Regional final.
Rutgers, which went 44-15 and finished among the national leaders in runs scored, ERA and fielding percentage, was curiously left out of the Field of 64. Although not as obvious of a choice, Iowa, which boasted one of the nation’s top pitching staff, was also left out. Only three Big Ten teams had made the NCAA tournament in 2021 after five made it in 2019.
Maryland enters the 2023 season ranked 13th in D1Baseball’s Preseason Top 25 and Terps shortstop Matt Shaw was an easy choice for the league’s Preseason Player of the Year. Three new head coaches were announced over the offseason as Tracy Smith (Michigan), Jim Foster (Northwestern) and Bill Mosiello (Ohio State) were welcomed to the league. It’s a return trip for Smith who served as skipper for Indiana from 2006-14, guiding the Hoosiers to the College World Series in 2013.
RANKINGS: Check out the full preseason top 25 poll
Projected order of finish/projected regional teams
*Teams are listed in order of projected finish. 2022 regional teams in bold.
Player of the Year: Matt Shaw, SS, Maryland
Matt Shaw showed signs of being a star during a freshman season in which he batted .322 with 16 doubles and seven home runs. He then became a bona fide star with his performance as a sophomore last season, and specifically by hitting 22 home runs. His performance in the Cape Cod League over the summer, when he batted .360/.432/.574, all of which led the league, won him league MVP honors and set the hype around his junior season into overdrive, and it’s easy to see why. His hittability is apparent with the batting average he put up on the Cape, he shows easy power from a strong 5-foot-11, 185-pound frame and he also flashes enough speed and know-how on the bases to be a threat to run. Defensively, he plays his position with high energy and makes all the routine plays. Jason Savacool also brings plenty of star power to the rotation. The righthander was a workhorse last season, putting up a 2.93 ERA in 107.2 innings, a performance that earned him a spot on the training camp roster for USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team. He works with a low-90s sinker, a breaking ball that he can manipulate to use either in a tight slider shape or a loopier curveball shape and a tumbling low-spin splitter. -- Excerpt written by D1Baseball.com's Joe Healy
Pitcher of the Year: Ty Langenberg, RHP, Iowa
Langenberg is a preseason favorite for Big Ten Pitcher of the Year and could be drafted in the top 3-5 rounds. He served as Iowa’s Sunday starter a year ago going 7-2, 3.71 with 74 strikeouts in 63 innings. Langenberg’s stuff is as good as his results, sitting in the 91-93 mph range with his fastball to set up his best pitch, a sinking mid-80s changeup. He also throws a cutter and a slider, giving him a well-rounded four-pitch mix that helps him turn over a lineup more than once. -- Excerpt written by D1Baseball.com's Patrick Ebert
Freshman of the Year: Hugh Pinkney, C, Rutgers
Rutgers has a loaded group, starting with freshman Hugh Pinkney (a catcher/outfielder), who could see regular playing time instantly given the strong impressions made in the fall. He led the team in batting and RBIs this fall as a freshman with a powerful lefthanded swing. His defense needs to catch up to his offense now of his progression, but the tools are there for him to be a star. He was drafted by the Padres out of high school in Canada last summer. -- Excerpt written by D1Baseball.com's Patrick Ebert