Before the ACC baseball tournament can start with round-robin pool play on Wednesday, there is the matter of settling the play-in games on Tuesday. No. 8 North Carolina is set to face No. 9 Virginia Tech in Pool A play, while No. 7 Virginia will take on No. 10 Georgia Tech in Pool B.
Below, we'll take a look at the pools, seeds, schedule and television info, and make predictions for Tuesday's action.
Pools and Seeds
No. 1 Louisville, No. 4 Florida State, No. 5 Clemson, No. 8 North Carolina, No. 9 Virginia Tech.
No. 2 Miami, No. 3 Notre Dame, No. 6 N.C. State, No. 7 Virginia, No. 10 Georgia Tech.
|ACC Tournament Schedule|
|Tuesday, May 18||11 a.m.||Virginia vs. Georgia Tech||RSN|
|Tuesday, May 18||3 p.m.||North Carolina vs. Virginia Tech||RSN|
|Wednesday, May 19||11 a.m.||Florida State vs. Clemson||RSN|
|Wednesday, May 19||3 p.m.||Miami vs. Virginia-Georgia Tech winner||RSN|
|Wednesday, May 19||7 p.m.||Louisville vs. North Carolina-Virginia Tech winner||RSN|
|Thursday, May 20||11 a.m.||Notre Dame vs. N.C. State||RSN|
|Thursday, May 20||3 p.m.||Clemson vs. Louisville||RSN|
|Thursday, May 20||7 p.m.||Florida State vs. North Carolina-Virginia Tech winner||RSN|
|Friday, May 21||11 a.m.||Notre Dame vs. Virginia-Georgia Tech winner||RSN|
|Friday, May 21||3 p.m.||Clemson vs. North Carolina-Virginia Tech winner||RSN|
|Friday, May 21||7 p.m.||Miami vs. N.C. State||RSN|
|Saturday, May 22||11 a.m.||Louisville vs. Florida State||RSN|
|Saturday, May 22||3 p.m.||Miami vs. Notre Dame||RSN|
|Saturday, May 22||7 p.m.||N.C. State vs. Virginia-Georgia Tech winner||RSN|
|Sunday, May 23||1 p.m.||Pool A winner vs. Pool B winner (ESPN2)||ESPN2|
|News-Record.com. RSN means|
No. 7 Virginia vs. No. 10 Georgia Tech
Georgia Tech has some history to live up to this year. The defending champs—and winners of two of the last three ACC tourneys—are looking to become the first ACC school to win 10 conference tournaments. But they'll need to get through Virginia first.
Leading the way will be ace pitcher Jonathan King, who has a 1.04 ERA in 34.2 innings over his last four starts. A.J. Murray (15 homers, second in the ACC), plus Georgia Tech's excellent defense and penchant for scoring late in games and stealing wins will make them a tough out.
For Virginia, the postseason essentially began weeks ago, as the team went on to win six of its last seven games to ensure its place in the tournament after a slow start to the season. Manager Brian O'Connor spoke about Virginia's late-season run, per Norm Wood of DailyPress.com:
"Our approach needed to be that, 'This is the playoffs,'" said O'Connor of U.Va.'s attitude entering the last seven games of the regular season. "If we didn't treat our last two conference weekends like it was a championship playoff time, we wouldn't be in the championship, so I'd like to feel that we're approaching the (Georgia Tech) game a little bit kind of as if it's our last. We've been playing in that kind of mode for two weeks. Hopefully, that's a mode that we'll continue."
Virginia is a young squad, but it is also red-hot at the moment. But as the old saying goes, momentum is the next day's pitcher, and King is a pretty darn good pitcher.
Prediction: Georgia Tech wins, 3-2
No. 8 North Carolina vs. No. 9 Virginia Tech
Much like Virginia, Virginia Tech comes into the tournament on a high note, having won eight of its last 10. It was a vital change in momentum, as before its recent streak it had lost nine of 11, and its season appeared to be sinking quickly.
Virginia Tech will face North Carolina's Zac Gallen, who went 3-3 this season with a 2.79 ERA but did give up four runs on nine hits when Virginia Tech beat the Tar Heels on April 17, 8-3. But Gallen is the team's ace, and the team is deeming this game so important that it is throwing him on four days rest.
The Tar Heels can sympathize with Virginia Tech's topsy-turvy season after being swept themselves in their last two series. Andrew Carter of NewsObserver.com has more on the team's slump to end the season:
About a week and a half ago, it seemed unlikely – if not completely implausible – that UNC would face such a dire circumstance entering the ACC tournament. But that was before the Tar Heels endured a three-game sweep at Notre Dame, and before they lost three more in a row against Virginia.
It was the first time since 2001 that UNC was swept in consecutive ACC series, and by Saturday, after the sixth of those consecutive losses, [manager Mike Fox] didn’t know what to say to his players. He had been frustrated by a performance he described as “embarrassing.”
For both of these teams, advancing past this game will likely be key if they are to reach the NCAA tournament, namely for Virginia Tech. North Carolina, meanwhile, hasn't missed the NCAA tournament since 2001.
Don't expect Virginia Tech to end that streak this year.
Prediction: North Carolina wins, 5-3