After finishing the regular season with a flourish that saw the Virginia Cavaliers win nine in a row including back to back sweeps of their ACC foes, the Hoos head in to the ACC Tournament as the Coastal Division Champions and the No. 2 seed.
In UVA’s way in an attempt to win a fourth ACC Tournament title in Durham is North Carolina and Georgia Tech, two teams that the Hoos are very familiar with and who UVA had success against this season.
The Yellow Jackets likely played their way to the wrong side of the bubble the final weekend of the season when the let UVA sweep them at home. Couple that with losing their opening round game against UNC on Tuesday and Georgia Tech is all but assured of watching the NCAA Tournament from home next week. They’ll have one more shot to bolster their resume on Wednesday against UVA, but even a win over a top 10 Virginia team probably won’t be enough to push the Yellow Jackets 57th ranked RPI high enough for an at large birth.
By way of Georgia Tech losing to North Carolina on Wednesday, their game against Virginia on Wednesday will be meaningless for the tournament due to the tiebreaker scenarios. Virginia can rest their starters and treat the game more as a glorified scrimmage while Georgia Tech should play with their hair on fire since it is likely their last game of the season.
Two weeks ago the Heels were riding high and feeling good about themselves. They had won two straight ACC series against Virginia Tech and NC State, and won a midweek game against ECU.
Then they dropped a midweek game to Coastal Carolina and were promptly swept by Clemson to end the regular season.
They’ll take on Virginia on Thursday with advancing to Saturday’s semifinals on the line, but also a chance to solidify their NCAA Tournament status. They currently have the No. 29 RPI and a 12-19 record against the Top 50 of the RPI to go along with a 15-14 ACC record. Both would indicate a good chance at an at large bid, but a loss to the Cavaliers could put them in bubble range with teams like NC State.
The good news for UVA is UNC had to win on Tuesday to have a chance to advance. As such, the Heels pitched their ace Max Carlson for four innings and their bullpen had to cover the final five. Given the day off it is unlikely any of their strong bullpen arms would by unavailable.
The key matchup in the game will be UVA’s pitching versus UNC’s hitting. The Tar Heels batted .279 in conference play this season and while Georgia Tech struggled in the pitching department this year, UNC exploded for 11 runs on 15 hits against the Yellow Jackets on Tuesday.
Virginia and the NCAA Tournament
By way of winning their final six ACC games, UVA vaulted itself from fringe host to possible Top 8 National Seed. Winning their pool would assure the Cavaliers a regional in Charlottesville and making it to Sunday would likely secure that National Seed. Virginia might not have much to play for on Wednesday, but the rest of the weekend will impact the rest of the season.