Michigan will spend this weekend, along with all of its BigTen brethren in the Tampa, FL area in one of the nation's premiere early season tournaments of college baseball, The BigEast/BigTen Challenge. The Challenge was created last year as a showcase for two of the better mid-major conferences from north of the Mason-Dixon line, featuring 10 BigTen teams and 8 BigEast teams. This year, the BigEast will send 10 teams to Tampa, including a ranked Louisville team that was absent in the inaugural tournament.
This year's tournament has also not been quite the media darling as last year. As an Opening Day tournament, it was the headliner. No major teams played real opponents in week one, but with the addition of the week to the beginning of the season on short notice, the Challenge has fallen to second fiddle to other tournaments and weekend series. Luckily, the top challenger for tournament of the week was cancelled due to cold, so we're getting back a little bit of our limelight.
Michigan has drawn a tough schedule in this year's tournament, featuring two of the top 3 teams in the BigEast. The Wolverines open with #11 (CBI Composite Poll) Louisville, then St. John's, and a South Florida team picked 2nd in the BigEast coaches' preseason poll.
Michigan should be a strong enough team to finish 2-1, with the loss coming at the hands of Louisville, but it will take some mental toughness without LaMarre to get to that point. I'm hopeful that only having 3 games this weekend should help us out. The less we see of our fourth starters on the weekend the better for the time being.
Team previews and conference outlook after the jump.