After a run of fourteen straight appearances in the NCAA Tournament, the Virginia Cavaliers’ baseball program has hit a bit of a rough patch. Neither the 2018 or 2019 team qualified for the NCAA Tournament, though the 2020 team was building a resume that looked destined to play into June before COVID struck.
Though they had high expectations coming into the season, including a Top 10 ranking, this team sits at just 22-21 overall and a 13-17 record in the ACC. According to D1Baseball, they have an RPI of No. 42, but their strength of schedule sits at No. 7 and they have not lost a game to a team featuring an RPI of worse than 100.
But before they can even worry about the NCAA Tournament, the Cavaliers still have to qualify for the upcoming ACC Tournament in Charlotte. The top 12 teams from the 14 team conference qualify for the Tournament and the Cavaliers currently sit in 11th with six games to play.
Here is who they are fighting with:
Wake Forest (17-23, 7-19) - The Hoos play host to Wake this weekend and enter with a 4 game advantage on the Demon Deacons. Clearly a series win over the Deacs will make it impossible for UVA to fall behind them.
Boston College (20-25, 9-21) - UVA also has a four game lead on the Eagles and travel to Boston in the final weekend of the season. The Eagles had an early season series against Wake canceled due to COVID, so they will be 3 games short of UVA’s games played, but if UVA can win the series against Wake this weekend, it would ensure a better record than BC.
Duke Blue Devils (21-20, 10-17) - Duke lost an early season series against NC State, so they too will be short in the games played, but they would ultimately hold the tiebreaker over the Hoos given they won the late April series against UVA. UVA only holds a 1.5 game lead (really 1 game lead due to the tiebreaker) over the Blue Devils, but they will play host to Virginia Tech this weekend and travel to Clemson next and both of those teams are fighting for NCAA Tournament bids as well.
The Hoos just have to finish ahead of two of the three teams they are currently ahead of to earn a spot in Charlotte. One series win out of the final two weekends should clinch that.
It’s also possible that with series wins in the upcoming weeks they could move up in the standings by chasing down UNC and Clemson.
North Carolina Tar Heels (21-22, 14-16) - UVA is just a game back of UNC for the 10th spot in the ACC, but the Heel hold the tiebreaker after winning the series against UVA in February. The Heels play host to Louisville and travel to Georgia Tech to end the season; both series are loseable.
Clemson Tigers (23-21, 15-15) - UVA sits two games back of Clemson in 9th, but like UNC, the Tigers have the tiebreaker. Clemson plays at FSU this weekend before hosting Duke in the final weekend when Duke could be playing for their lives.
UVA’s NCAA Tournament hopes essentially rest on having good weekends over the final two and winning a few games in Charlotte. Though it would not lock them in to the NCAA Tournament, having a .500 record in ACC play this season should go a long way. That would take winning 5 of the last 6.