N.C. State baseball fans will be doing plenty of scoreboard watching the next two weekends.
And not just their own.
UNC, Clemson, Duke, Pitt, Maryland and Georgia Tech (not to mention actual opponents Wake Forest next weekend and Virginia Tech the following) will play a role in determining the Wolfpacks postseason fate.
With two conference series remaining, the Wolfpack (9-15) is two games behind Pitt (11-13) for the 10th and final spot in the ACC tournament. UNC (13-11) could fall into the bottom mix, too, as it closes the season against heavyweights FSU and Miami. The Deacons (12-12) arent a lock, either, as they close with Virginia (18-6) after playing the Pack.
The possibilities and tiebreaker scenarios are exhaustive, but for simplicitys sake, N.C. State needs at least one of those teams to finish with no more than 13 league wins to have a legitimate shot. That also means the Pack likely needs to finish at least 4-2, if not 5-1 or better to get to 13, 14 or 15 wins.
Their postseason prospects will become much clearer by next Sunday afternoon. They could sweep Wake Forest, for instance, and tie the Deacons in the standings to give themselves a chance to clinch the following week at Virginia Tech.
Or they could be eliminated if they get swept, Pitt beats Maryland (12-14) twice, and Clemson beats Notre Dame at least once. That combination would give 10 teams at least 13 wins, a figure N.C. State could not match.
One fascinating possibility also exists that includes all three Triangle rivals: UNC and N.C. State could tie for 10th with 13-17 records and Duke could determine which one advances.
For that to happen, the Heels would have to lose their remaining six league games against FSU and Miami. And the Pack would have to close 4-2 against Wake and Virginia Tech.
If that happens, N.C. State would earn the 10th spot on a tiebreaker as long as Duke finishes fourth behind Virginia, FSU and Miami.
Why? The ACC uses records against common opponents to break ties among two teams that didnt play each other. UNC and N.C. State both would have gone 0-3 against FSU and Miami. The Pack didnt play Virginia, so if Duke can stay in fourth place, the Blue Devils would be the next-best common opponent.
N.C. State went 1-2 against Duke.
Duke swept UNC, including rallying twice to edge the Heels in extra innings March 29. Nobody could have known then how important that game still might become.
Other tiebreaker scenarios exist, but theyre not as fun to follow. And for the next two weekends, theres a lot left to follow.