College Baseball Tournament 2012: Why North Carolina Is Team to Beat

Ian HanfordFeatured ColumnistMay 29, 2012

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North Carolina's baseball team is currently ranked No.5 in the nation, but they are more equipped to win this year's college baseball tournament than any higher-seeded team.

The Tar Heels have it all. Experience, coaching, pitching and timely hitting are all part of the Tar Heels' winning equation.

Let's take a look at why North Carolina is the team to beat in this year's NCAA tournament field.


Elite Pitching

You know the old saying, pitching wins championships. If that is truly the case, teams should be frightened of the Tar Heel staff.

North Carolina boasts four top-end starters, Benton Moss, R.C. Orlan, Hobbs Johnson and Kent Emanuel. They also have the nation's No. 4 leader in saves, Michael Morin. These five talented arms are a big reason North Carolina's team ERA was No. 3 in the nation this season.

The Tar Heels will need these arms to traverse the pitfalls of postseason play. Quality starts and solid work from the back-end of the bullpen will directly translate to Tar Heel victories.

Tar Heel fans are used to bringing elite arms to the table. Andrew Miller, Daniel Bard and Alex White were all extremely successful and dominant presences.

This year Moss and Emanuel will carry the Tar Heels through their hosted regional and deep into postseason play.


Solid Hitting

North Carolina relies on station-to-station baseball to win games. With 44 wins on the season, who can argue?

The Tar Heels only had 19 home runs as a team with a .279 team batting average. Two hitters, Colin Moran and Chaz Frank, hit .300-plus this season. Jacob Stallings hit a .299 clip.

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North Carolina will not 'wow' you with prolific power or gaudy run totals. Their pitching is their unquestioned strength. But that doesn't mean they cannot hit. They scored five or more runs 29 times this season.

Great pitching turned 28 of those games into victories.

The Tar Heels use moxie and experience to demolish their opponents down the stretch. After the eighth inning, North Carolina has outscored their opponents by 22 runs, including extra frames.

Power will probably be useful at some point, but North Carolina's equation has worked all season long.

Their hitters work counts, get on base, and play fundamentally sound while their pitchers keep them in games.

It works. The Tar Heels out hit their opponent 34 times this year en route to 44 total victories.

Expect both of these trends to continue well into college baseball's summer months.