With the final weekend of the season upon us, the Cavaliers are on the verge of their best ACC season in program history. Normally that would almost assure them a #1 seed in the ACC tournament, but this year Miami has had other plans.
Nevertheless, if UVa can take care of business this weekend by sweeping Wake on their home field, UVa could push their record to 24-6 which would be the best ACC mark in program history. Only four times has the team broken 20 ACC wins, and only once have they gotten to the 23 win mark (2010). The 30 game ACC schedule dates back to 2005, but I cannot find historical standings to see just how many teams have reached 24+ wins since then.
Stop me if you've heard this before, Wake holds a significant advantage in the historical head to head matchup against UVa, but the roles were reversed when Coach O'Connor came to town. Sound familiar? Yea, just like every other ACC team. Since Oak took the helm, UVa is 18-8 against the Demon Deacons. It certainly helps when your team has won the last ten matchups and every series since 2007. Poor Wake.
This season, they'll enter the weekend 28-24 with a 13-14 ACC record. As of today, they're still in the ACC tournament picture, but they're fighting for their lives. Losers of their last four ACC series, the last month has not been to kind to the Deacons. If they want to assure a spot in Greensboro next week, they'll likely have to win the weekend, which I don't see happening.
Their offense will be lead by RS JR Grant Shambley whose .324 average is far and above the best on the Wake roster. As a team, they strike out just under seven and a half times a game, which means the Cavalier pitching staff could eat them alive. They also rank towards the bottom of the conference in runs scored and hits. Could be a tough weekend for Wake.
The news doesn't get much better for the Demon Deacons when they're in the field either. They're 3.80 team ERA places them at 11th in the ACC. Their average of surrendering nearly a hit per inning, coupled with the fact that they are allowing nearly 5 runs a game could mean good things for the strong UVa lineup. The only starter UVa will likely have to worry about is RS JR Josh McLeod whose 2.33 ERA and 5-2 record are both team bests.
Since it is the last weekend, the two teams will play Thurs-Saturday to give the teams plenty of rest heading in to the ACC tournament. Oak typically likes to use this weekend to line up his staff for the next three weekends (ACC Tournament, Regionals, & Super Regionals). This year is no different as the Cavaliers will send Artie Lewicki to the mound on Thursday, Kirby in his normal Friday spot, and Brandon Waddell will move up from Sunday into the Saturday spot. Josh Sborz, who has been a mainstay in the weekend rotation, will move to the bullpen for the weekend. I would not expect that to last very long as UVa will likely play four games every weekend for the next two (ACC Tournament and Regionals). Having so many quality starters is a blessing Oak must count every night before he goes to sleep.
UVa has played exceptional nearly all season and are deserving of a #1 seed in the ACC Tournament. If they can sweep Wake this weekend, which I think they will, I think they will end up in that #1 seed. Miami can't continue their smoldering hot winning ways all season, and I think UNC is fighting for their life this weekend and will take the series.