The 2015 ACC tournament has passed the halfway mark, with a few of the pretenders already falling out of contention for the championship game.
With the title clash scheduled for Sunday, those teams still in the hunt are running out of time to make up any ground if need be. Nobody has solidified a spot just yet, but that could change by the time Friday's games wrap up.
Here's a look at the three games on the docket for Friday.
|Time (ET)||Matchup||TV Info||Live Stream||Prediction|
|11 a.m.||No. 3 Notre Dame vs. No. 7 Virginia||RSN||Watch ESPN||ND, 5-2|
|3 p.m.||No. 5 Clemson vs. No. 8 North Carolina||RSN||Watch ESPN||CLEM, 4-1|
|7 p.m.||No. 2 Miami vs. No. 6 North Carolina State||RSN||Watch ESPN||UM, 3-2|
Notre Dame vs. Virginia
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish will be looking to make up for their defeat Thursday to the North Carolina State Wolfpack. The Virginia Cavaliers are also coming off a loss in their last game, falling to the Miami Hurricanes on Tuesday.
The last time these two schools met, the Cavaliers swept their three-game series with the Fighting Irish in Notre Dame by a combined score of 18-7.
According to Mike Barber of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Brandon Waddell will take the mound for Virginia, and Ryan Smoyer will oppose him for Notre Dame.
The pitching matchup would certainly seem to favor the Irish. Waddell has gone 3-4 this year with a 4.39 earned run average, while Smoyer is a perfect 8-0 with a 2.06 ERA. Notre Dame head coach Mik Aoki is confident the sophomore right-hander will deliver a win, per Barber:
Waddell is the weakest of Virginia's regular starting pitchers during the year, so it could be a long day for the Cavs.
Prediction: Notre Dame 5, Virginia 2
Clemson vs. North Carolina
This game is essentially a dead rubber.
The North Carolina Tar Heels fell to 0-2 in round-robin play following a loss Thursday to the Florida State Seminoles, which eliminated them from potentially advancing to the championship game.
For the Clemson Tigers, a win Friday is also meaningless since they don't own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Seminoles and have the lowest winning percentage in conference play should Florida State, Clemson and the Louisville Cardinals all finish 2-1.
As Kelly Dickey noted, the only game in Pool A that matters now is Florida State vs. Louisville on Saturday:
Since both teams have nothing to play for here, it's hard to see how they'll perform. Maybe the loss of any consequences, positive or negative, will be liberating, or it could mean the Tigers and Tar Heels players lose some motivation.
North Carolina's hitting has been an issue for much of the season, with the Heels sitting in the bottom half of the ACC in most major offensive categories.
Clemson should have enough firepower to put UNC away.
Prediction: Clemson 4, North Carolina 1
Miami vs. North Carolina State
The biggest question for the Wolfpack is whether they can shut down the high-powered Hurricanes offense. Miami leads the conference in batting average (.319), slugging percentage (.481), on-base percentage (.427), home runs (56) and runs scored (471).
David Thompson is one of the standout performers. The junior third baseman is first in the ACC in homers (19), RBI (78) and second in slugging (.697). His two-run single in the eighth inning put Miami ahead, 6-5, against Virgina before the 'Canes prevailed 9-5.
The good news for N.C. State is that pitching has been one of its biggest strengths this year. No ACC team allowed fewer earned runs than the Wolfpack, while opposing hitters batted a paltry .212 against N.C. State's arms.
This matchup certainly appears to test the old axiom as to whether good pitching beats good hitting. The former generally proves more valuable, but the latter, in this case, may be too strong to ignore.
The Hurricanes will squeeze out a close victory.
Prediction: Miami 3, North Carolina State 2
Note: RSN means games will be broadcast on regional sports networks. A full list of where you can find Friday's games is available on the ACC's official site.