FROM CBB NEWS SOURCE
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The University of Michigan baseball program and head coach Rich Maloney announced on Tuesday (Oct. 12) the 2011 schedule, which features games against at least four teams that advanced to the NCAA Tournament, a mid-week home series against Texas tech, and the full 27-game Big Ten slate.
“It’s a very challenging schedule,” Maloney said. “We open up with three Big East opponents that will be good matchups. We then have Stanford three times and having Texas Tech come in to Ann Arbor twice is a great thing for our program and baseball fans in Michigan. Playing Florida Gulf Coast is another challenging game, Rutgers is another good Big East team and historically Winthrop has had a good program. I think it’s a very good schedule. We’re excited about the opportunity the schedule presents and look forward to the opportunity to compete against so many quality opponents and going to so many different venues.
“I think you want to play a challenging schedule so that when you’re coming to Big Ten play, you’re ready to challenge yourself,” Maloney continued. “Hopefully, you have worked on some things that maybe you hadn’t worked on as much. But you’ve had experience against quality teams so you’ve been challenged. I think that bodes well. Last year, Minnesota won the Big Ten and had a challenging beginning of the season, but that helped them during Big Ten. We always have tried to do that. We felt it was a benefit to our kids because you learn about your team and yourself when you battle through the rigors of a tough non-conference schedule and this will be no different. We’re going to have to play well to win those games early in the schedule, but ultimately it will prepare us for the Big Ten season.”
The season starts Feb. 18-20 as the Wolverines head to Tampa, Fla., for the Big Ten/Big East Challenge. Sites, times and opponents will be announced by both conferences in the near future, but the Big East sent three teams to NCAA postseason play in 2010. Michigan will head back down to Florida the following week to start its Spring Break trip, playing Rutgers in a three-game series in Port St. Lucie, Fla., and playing its annual exhibition game against the New York Mets.
U-M then faces Florida Gulf Coast, an NCAA Tournament participant last season, on March 2 in Fort Myers, Fla., before finishing the trip in the Sam Houston State Tournament where is faces the host Bearkats and UMass in Huntsville, Texas. Michigan plays Winthrop and Stony Brook, which also was a NCAA Tournament team, in the Bojangles Baseball Classic the next weekend in Rock Hill, S.C.
The highlight of the early season schedule is a three-game trip to Stanford, March 18-20, in Palo Alto, Calif. Michigan and Stanford both have won two NCAA championships in its storied history, while the Cardinal advanced to the NCAA regionals in 2010.
The 21-game home schedule will begin on Friday, March 25, against in-state rival Michigan State. The two teams will then play in East Lansing on Saturday before returning to Ann Arbor to finish up the series on Sunday. The three games will not count in the Big Ten standings.
The Wolverines also welcome Texas Tech to Ann Arbor on Tuesday, May 10, and Wednesday, May 11. Both games will start at 6:05 p.m. It is the first time in the Maloney era that a team south of the Mason/Dixon line has traveled to Ann Arbor to face the Wolverines in regular-season play. Michigan also will play Notre Dame in a mid-week home-and-home series, May 3-4.
Big Ten play kicks off with a three-game home series against Indiana, April 1-3. The Wolverines also have home series against Illinois, Minnesota and Penn State while traveling to Purdue, Iowa, Ohio State and Northwestern. The conference season culminates with the Big Ten Tournament, which will be held May 25-28 at Huntington Park in Columbus, Ohio.
The Wolverines are coming off a 35-22 season in 2010 and a second-place finish in conference play.