The ACC couldn’t have asked for a better scenario for the return of its baseball championship to Durham.
North Carolina, N.C. State and Duke are all top seeds in pool play and, as such, have the inside track to advance this week at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
The pairings were set with the results of Saturday’s regular-season finales. Pool play starts on Tuesday and the league will release the schedule of games on Sunday morning.
Pool play is set up as a round-robin format. Those games will be played Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at the DBAP. Being the top seed in the pool matters because the tiebreaker if all three teams finish 1-1 in pool play goes to the top-seeded team.
The pool winners will meet on May 26 in the semifinals and the championship game is on May 27. If the top seeds hold form, Saturday’s games would be UNC-Duke and Clemson-N.C. State.
North Carolina’s 6-1 win over Virginia Tech on Saturday gave the Tar Heels the No. 1 overall seed. The Heels, 22-8 in ACC play, will be in Pool A with No. 8 seed Georgia Tech (14-16) and No. 12 seed Pittsburgh (11-19).
UNC and Clemson did not meet during the regular season. UNC’s sweep of N.C. State at the end of April gave the Tar Heels the tiebreaker over Clemson, which was swept by the Wolfpack back in March. The Tigers (22-8) take the No. 2 seed and top spot in Pool B. They are joined by No. 7 seed Miami (16-13) and No. 11 seed Notre Dame (12-18).
The Wolfpack, which rebounded from a pair of excruciating losses at Florida State with a 5-3 win over the Seminoles on Saturday, are the No. 3 seed and top spot in Pool C. No. 6 seed FSU (16-13) and No. 10 seed Virginia (12-18) are the other two teams with N.C. State in Pool C.
Duke (18-11) beat Georgia Tech on Saturday to take the No. 4 seed and top line in Pool D. No. 5 seed Louisville (18-12) and No. 9 Wake Forest (13-17) are the two teams with Duke in Pool D.
The ACC tournament was held in Durham in 2015 and ’16 but the conference moved it to Louisville, Ky., last year due to the discriminatory provisions in the North Carolina General Assembly’s House Bill 2 or “HB2.”
The bill was repealed last March and both the NCAA and ACC have since returned championship events to the state.