The No. 6 Illinois Fighting Illini (40-6-1) will look to continue their historic season this weekend as they welcome the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (17-31-1) to town. This will be the first-ever series between the two schools, but they did face each other once back in 1989.
- No. 6 Illinois: Jr. LHP Kevin Duchene (8-1, 0.78 ERA)
- Rutgers: Jr. LHP Howie Brey (2-6, 5.79 ERA)
- No. 6 Illinois: r-Sr. RHP Drasen Johnson (7-2, 2.28 ERA)
- Rutgers: Jr. LHP Mark McCoy (2-7, 5.79 ERA)
- No. 6 Illinois: Sr. RHP John Kravetz (4-0, 3.02 ERA)
- Rutgers: So. RHP Gaby Rosa (1-5, 6.28 ERA)
Dan Hartleb's squad currently sits atop the Big Ten standings thanks in part to a program-record 21-game winning streak. The Illini have logged a .297 batting average during this incredible run while outscored their opponents by a total margin of 161-65. The most impressive victories during this span came last weekend when Illinois marched into Columbus and swept the No. 23 Ohio State Buckeyes (33-13).
Rutgers, on the other hand, has had a rough first season as a member of the Big Ten; they've lost five of their last six games and haven't won a single conference matchup since early April. Sophomore OF Tom Marcinczyk appears to be the Scarlet Knights' best hitter as he's batting .330 (.416 OB%) and has a team-high 5 home runs on the year. Freshman RHP John O'Reilly looks like the staff's 'ace' with a 3.00 ERA in 57.0 innings pitched, but he's not scheduled to make a start this series.
Illinois' magic number to clinch the Big Ten regular season title is down to 5; at 16-1, their biggest threat at the moment is second place Iowa (15-3). The Hawkeyes are in Minneapolis this weekend for a three game series against Minnesota (19-26).
Anything can happen in Baseball, but it'd be shocking if Illinois can't extend their winning streak to 24 games this weekend.