The Cavaliers ended the year on a low note but looks to snap back to reality like Eminem and right the ship before the NCAA tournament begins. Even with the three losses to UNC, the 'Hoos were still able to tie Georgia Tech in the conference standings and secure the #1 seed because they won the series against the Yellow Jackets earlier in the year. The ACC tournament is never easy given the depth of the conference and this year is certainly no different.
The baseball tournament is set up a bit differently than most of the other conference tournaments around the country and ACC tournaments in other sports. In 2007 the coaches and conference decided to change the tournament layout from a typical double elimination tournament to a pool play configuration. The eight teams that now make the tournament are placed into two round robin pools with the winner of each pool advancing to a winner take all Championship game held on Sunday.
Since UVa was able to secure the #1 overall seed, they will play in the "A Pool" with the 4th, 5th, and 8th seeds. This year, Carolina grabbed the 4th seed and comes into the tournament peaking at the right time. Miami secured the 5th seed in a surprising season. Their youth was expected to give the 'Canes some trouble but they rose to the occasion and came away with a 19-10 record in the conference. Expected to be even worse than Miami was Wake Forest, the #8 seed. I can't say they have impressed, but they made the ACC tournament and anything is possible from there.
In the other pool, Florida State was able to get the #2 seed after they held off Clemson and won the Atlantic Division. Even though Georgia Tech tied the Cavaliers for the best record in the conference, they received the #3 seed since the two regular season division winners get the top 2 seeds. Clemson started off the year as one of the highest ranked teams in the conference but, in true Clemson Tiger fashion they underachieved. The Tigers finished with a 17-13 record in the conference and two games behind their Atlantic rival Florida State. Clemson is still in the hunt for a regional host bid and could help their cause with some early victories this weekend in Durham. The #7 seed NC State Wolfpack amassed a 15-15 record and could cause some trouble for the other three teams if they are more worried about each other and not focused on the Wolfpack. Elliot Avent and Co. always seem to find a way to win and even managed to make the Championship game last year before falling to FSU.
With the way things played out on the field this year during the regular season I expect the Coastal Division to square off in the finals on Sunday. Georgia Tech is one of the better teams in the country and should be able to handle FSU and Clemson in Pool B. As long as the Yellow Jackets stellar pitching shows up they should advance.
In Pool A, I expect the showdown between UNC and UVa to decide who advances to the Championship game on Sunday. While it is true that UNC swept UVa this past weekend, I think UVa will have the advantage after seeing the way UNC has their rotation setting up this weekend. The 'Hoos will have the advantage of knowing the winner of the Miami and Carolina game and the standings entering the weekend and can adjust their rotation accordingly.
My final prediction: UVa defeats GT to win the ACC Championship. UVa took 2/3 from the Yellow Jackets earlier in the year and even though they have the play a late game Saturday night, their rotation is just a little bit deeper that Georgia Tech's which should be the deciding factor. Shocked I picked UVa? Yea, me neither.