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The Box Score: Iowa vs. Illinois, what would happen?

BY IAN MURPHY | MAY 12, 2015 5:00 AM

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If the Big Ten could have a do-over, the schedulers may have pitted Iowa and Illinois against each other in the last week of the season.

The schedule is what it is, however, and at present, the biggest match up of the season between the two best baseball teams in the league can’t happen unless the teams meet in the Big Ten Tournament.

Even then, the highly anticipated matchup would have to wait until the title game. Iowa (37-12) and Illinois (43-6-1) have locked up the No. 1 and 2 seeds in the tournament.

Because the matchup won’t happen for another two weeks, let the numbers decide who wins.

Batting

The Illini rank second in the conference in batting average, hitting .300 as a team and have the second most home runs with 45, albeit playing in a hitter’s park. The Illini also lead the conference in runs scored with 258.

Iowa is tied for eighth in the conference with a .275 average and has just 12 home runs, which ranks last.

The Hawkeyes, however, have a .371 on-base percentage, good for fourth in the league. But again, they trail the Illini, who are third with a .382 mark.

Pitching

These are the two best pitching teams in the league. Both clubs are in the top three in ERA, opposing batting average, and as indicated in the standings, wins.

The edge goes to the Illini in strikeouts, with 382 to Iowa’s 319, but the Hawkeyes have not been a team that blows by batters this season.

Iowa has a 1 save advantage over Illinois, 17-16, and has given up almost 30 fewer hits, owning a 376-403 advantage.

The starting pitcher matchups in a three-game series would read like this: Illinios’ Kevin Duchene (8-1) vs. Iowa’s Tyler Peyton (5-1) in Game One, Drasen Johnson (7-2) vs. Blake Hickman (6-3), followed by Rob McDonnell (7-1) vs. Calvin Matthews (5-1).

All six starters have an ERA under 3.00, with Duchene leading the way at an absurd 0.95 through 76.0 innings pitched.

Second goes to Mathews with a 1.77. Worth noting is Hickman, who at a 2.93 ERA and arguably Iowa’s best pitcher, has the highest ERA of the six. That’s a testament to the strength of the starters.

Fielding

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but the two best teams in the Big Ten are also two of the best fielding teams as well.

Iowa is just .001 points back from Nebraska for the top spot in the league with a .979 fielding percentage, while Illinois sits at .975. Iowa is tied with Nebraska for the fewest errors in the league with 41. Illinois has 51.

Further, Iowa has the fewest number of stolen bases against in the league with just 20. Illinois has 31.

This matchup of Big Ten title contenders is a tossup. Illinois has the advantage in the batter’s box, Iowa has the advantage in the field. Pitching, as it so often is, seems to be the deciding factor.


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