NC State

How UNC, Duke and N.C. State can finish first in ACC baseball

The game time for Thursday's UNC vs. Virginia Tech baseball game is changing due to the weather.
The game time for Thursday's UNC vs. Virginia Tech baseball game is changing due to the weather. rwillett@newsobserver.com

North Carolina doesn’t need any help to win the Coastal Division or be the No. 1 seed in the ACC baseball championship next week in Durham.

The Tar Heels, 19-8 in ACC play, are in control of their own tournament fate in the final week of the regular season. Duke and N.C. State, while still alive for a division title or No. 1 seed in the tournament, can’t say the same.

Twelve of the 14 teams will make it to Durham Bulls Athletic Park on Tuesday for the ACC championship. The format is round-robin play for four groups of three teams. The winner of each group advances to the semifinals. The final two teams meet for the championship.

Here’s what the three Triangle teams need to happen to close out the regular season.

North Carolina

Record: 34-17 overall, 19-8 ACC

Schedule: home vs. Virginia Tech (8-19 ACC); Thursday (6 p.m.), Friday (6 p.m.), Saturday (2 p.m.)

With the tiebreaker over N.C. State (18-9) and Clemson (19-8) and a 1.5-game lead over Duke (17-9), UNC has a lot of ways to be the No. 1 seed in the ACC championship. There are 256 scenarios left (if all four teams play all three games), and UNC takes the top spot in 134 of them.

The easiest would be to sweep the hapless Hokies, who are one of two teams likely to miss the ACC field in Durham. With two wins over Virginia Tech, UNC would clinch the Coastal Division.

A three-game sweep of N.C. State at the end of April gave the Tar Heels the tiebreaker over the Wolfpack and Tigers. UNC and Clemson didn’t play during the regular season, so the tiebreak is based on “best” win (which is based on the ACC standings). UNC went 3-0 against State, while Clemson went 0-3.

Duke would have had the tiebreaker over UNC, based on its series win last weekend, but the Devils had a game at Florida State rained out in mid-April, so they have played one fewer conference game than the Tar Heels.

N.C. State

Record: 39-12 overall, 18-9 ACC

Schedule: at Florida State (14-12 ACC); Thursday (6 p.m.), Friday (6 p.m.), Saturday (1 p.m.)

The Wolfpack has lost only one conference series, and swept Clemson back in March, but the Tigers caught a hot streak in April in May. A game behind Clemson in the Atlantic Division, N.C. State can finish even with the Tigers and win its first division title. The problem is N.C. State needs help from Pittsburgh (11-16), which hosts Clemson this week.

N.C. State can still pass both UNC and Clemson for the No. 1 seed in the ACC tournament, which it hasn’t been since 1986. The Wolfpack has 30 scenarios (out of 256) to take the No. 1 seed. N.C. State, by virtue of a series at Duke, would have a tiebreaker over the Blue Devils.

Duke

Record: 38-12 overall, 17-9 ACC

Schedule: home vs. Georgia Tech (12-15 ACC); Thursday (7 p.m.), Friday (6 p.m.), Saturday (1 p.m.)

The Blue Devils took two out of three from UNC last weekend at the DBAP. They need a sweep of Georgia Tech and then some help from Virginia Tech, Florida State and Pitt. That’s asking a lot, but stranger things have happened.

Duke has 14 (out of 256) scenarios to take the No. 1 seed for the tournament. If Duke sweeps the Jackets and UNC either goes 0-3 or 1-2 vs. Virginia Tech, then the Devils would win their first Coastal title. If Duke goes 2-1 and UNC gets swept, that would also equal a division title for Duke.

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