2012 Big Ten Baseball Tournament Bracket: Michigan State Can End 33-Year NCAA Tourney Drought

Michigan State has not been to the NCAA baseball tournament since 1979, but it will try to change that with a strong showing in the 2012 Big Ten baseball tournament.

Last season was a bittersweet one for the Michigan State Spartans in baseball. The Spartans shared the Big Ten regular season title with Illinois, their first such crown since 1979. They were left out of the NCAA tournament, however, when the Fighting Illini won the Big Ten tournament to take the league's automatic bid.

MSU has a decent RPI of No. 47 this season, which is good for a northern team. They also have strong regular season wins over Baylor and Big Ten champion Purdue, but they need a strong Big Ten tournament to make it to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1979.

Michigan State (35-19, 13-11) will have the No. 5 seed in this year's 16-team Big Ten tournament, and they will play No. 4 seed Nebraska (34-21, 14-10) in the opening game of the tournament at 12:05 p.m. on Wednesday at Huntington Bank Park in Columbus, OH. All games will be televised live on Big Ten Network.

No. 3 seed Penn State (29-25, 15-9) will play No. 6 seed Ohio State (31-25, 11-13) after Michigan State's game on Wednesday. No. 1 seed Purdue (41-12, 17-7) and No. 2 seed Indiana (30-26, 16-8) each get a bye to Thursday, with Purdue playing the lowest seed of Wednesday's winners and Indiana playing the other winner.

The full schedule of the double-elimination affair can be found here. Only Purdue is considered to be a lock for the NCAA tournament from the Big Ten, as the Boilermakers have been rated in the top 15 nationally for most of the season. Michigan State, however, is considered a bubble team and a strong run in Columbus could be enough to earn them an at-large bid.

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