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Brad Senkiw | Anderson Independent Mail | May 23, 2016

Breaking down the ACC tournament field in Durham

  Regular-season champion Miami will be No. 1 in the ACC tournament. Louisville locked up the No. 2 seed.

This week's 2016 ACC baseball tournament is full of NCAA implications as nine of the 10 teams in the field are eyeing a postseason beyond the league's big event, which runs Tuesday, May 24-Sunday, May 29 at Durham Bulls Athletic Park in Durham, North Carolina.

NCAA Baseball


Play gets underway Tuesday at 11 a.m. when Duke faces Wake Forest in the first of two play-in games. Boston College follows against Georgia Tech at 3 p.m. in the final win-or-go-home match of the day.

Each team in pool play will have one game against each of the other three opponents in its pool Wednesday through Saturday. The two teams with the best records within their respective pools will advance to the title game Sunday.

RELATED: Complete list of conference tournaments

Florida State and N.C. State open Pool A play at 11 a.m. Wednesday. Miami plays the BC-GT winner at 3 p.m. and Louisville meets the Duke-Wake winner at 7 p.m.

Virginia meets Clemson at 11 a.m. Thursday, while Florida State gets BC or Georgia Tech at 3 p.m. and Miami plays N.C. State at 7 p.m.

Louisville plays Clemson at 11 a.m. Friday. Virginia will take on the Duke or Wake at 3 p.m., followed by N.C. State and the Boston College-Georgia Tech winner at 7 p.m. The final day of pool play is led off by Clemson and the Duke-Wake Forest winner at 11 a.m. Saturday, followed by Miami and Florida State at 3 p.m. and Louisville versus Virginia at 7 p.m.

Here's a look at the field, listed in order by seeds:

No. 1 Miami (43-10 overall, 21-7 ACC)

ACC tournament titles: 1

Players to watch: Zack Collins (.382, 11 HRs, 51 RBIs), Johnny Ruiz (.347, 2 HRs, 50 RBIs), Michael Mediavilla (10-1, 3.24 ERA, 63 SO), Jesse Lepore (8-0, 2.37 ERA, 51 SO)

Outlook: The Hurricanes certainly earned their top seed. They lost one ACC series all year. Not an especially outstanding offensive squad statistically, although it does have the fourth-best batting average in the ACC, Miami ranks third in the league with a 3.51 ERA. One of the best teams in the country, the Hurricanes are a lock for a one of eight national seeds in the NCAA tournamentone of the favorites in Durham.

No. 2 Louisville (46-10 overall, 22-8 ACC)

ACC tournament titles: 0

Players to watch: Corey Ray (.326, 14 HRs, 57 RBIs), Blake Tiberi (.341, 7 HRs, 43 RBIs), Brendan McKay (.338, 37 RBIs, 1.99 ERA, 105 Ks), Drew Harrington (11-1, 1.66 ERA, 71 Ks)

Outlook: The Cardinals have star power all over this roster, starting with the versatile McKay and Ray, who will be a top-10 pick in the MLB draft. There are seven other hitters on this team batting over .300. Louisville enters the postseason as the hottest team in the conference and on a nine-game winning streak. With a national seed in sight, this might be the year for it to capture its first ACC tourney crown.

No. 3 Virginia (36-18 overall, 19-11 ACC)

ACC tournament titles: 3

Players to watch: Matt Thaiss (.378, 9 HRs, 54 RBIs), Pavin Smith (.320, 6 HRs, 51 RBIs), Connor Jones (11-1, 2.05 ERA, 65 Ks), Adam Haseley (8-3, 1.73 ERA, 44 Ks)

Outlook: This team came on late in the conference season to win its last five ACC series, beating Miami and Georgia Tech in the process. The Cavs ended the regular season with a sweep of Virginia Tech and are looking to host a regional. Jones, who will likely be a first-round draft pick, is one of the nation's top pitchers.

No. 4 Florida State (34-19 overall, 16-10 ACC)

ACC tournament titles: 6

Players to watch: Cal Raleigh (.304, 9 HRs, 43 RBIs), John Sansone (.374, 7 HRs, 57 RBIs), Taylor Walls (.366, 6 HRs, 38 RBIs), Drew Carlton (6-3, 4.07 ERA, 64 Ks)

Outlook: Florida State, which had several rainouts, is as balanced a team as there is in the field. The Seminoles are middle of the pack in batting average but third in runs scored, and while none of the top three starters own an ERA under 4.00, the bullpen is one of the strengths of this team. The Seminoles might end up hosting a regional and could have a shot at a national seed.

No. 5 N.C. State (34-18 overall, 15-13 ACC)

ACC tournament titles: 4

Players to watch: Preston Palmeiro (.327, 8 HRs, 48 RBIs), Evan Mendoza (.377, 4 HRs, 25 RBIs), Ryan Williamson (7-2, 2.73 ERA, 77), Will Gilbert (3-0, 1.98 ERA, 6 saves)

Outlook: After dropping their first ACC series of the season to Boston College, the Wolfpack didn't lose another one until Clemson took two of three this month, and State ended up 3-6 down the stretch. Still, when this team puts it all together, it's dangerous. The Wolfpack need a big week to secure a home regional and are in the right pool to make a move and do just that.

No. 6 Clemson (38-18 overall, 16-14 ACC)

ACC tournament titles: 9

Players to watch: Seth Beer (.378, 15 HRs, 60 RBIs), Chris Okey (.341, 12 HRs, 61 RBIs), Pat Krall (6-3, 4.07 ERA, 64 Ks), Charlie Barnes (5-4, 4.46 ERA, 73 Ks)

Outlook: Clemson came on strong late in the season, taking series against N.C. State and FSU, and the Tigers swept Notre Dame to avoid the play-in game. The starting pitching has performed well as of late, but that and a defense that leads the league in errors have to be good this week if Clemson wants to win a couple games and host a regional. The Tigers are solidly in the NCAAs.

No. 7 Duke (33-21 overall, 14-15 ACC)

ACC tournament titles: 0

Players to watch: Justin Bellinger (.320, 5 HRs, 28 RBIs), Jack Labosky (.289, 5 HRs, 43 RBIs), Kellen Urbon (7-1, 2.72, 45 Ks), Brian McAfee (7-4, 3.40 ERA, 63 Ks)

Outlook: Duke ranks near the bottom of the league in several offensive categories, and the program has a .276 winning percentage in 32 ACC tourney appearances. But these Blue Devils won a series over FSU followed by a two-game sweep at Pitt (series finale was rained out) to secure a spot in a play-in game. Whether or not they make pool play, Duke has a shot at earning its first NCAA tournament bid since 1961.

No. 8 Boston College (31-19 overall, 13-15 ACC)

ACC tournament titles: 0

Players to watch: Joe Cronin (.279, 4 HRs, 34 RBIs), Michael Strem (.313, 1 HR, 31 RBIs), Jacob Stevens 3-3, 2.04 ERA, 67 Ks), Mike King (7-4, 3.18 ERA, 56 Ks)

Outlook: Believe it or not, there aren't a lot of teams playing better in this league than the Eagles down the stretch. They took two of three from Louisville in late April before winning the final three series, including one at Georgia Tech, to make a late push for one of the final tournament spots. BC struggled in league play away from home, but it's now knocking on the door of the NCAA tournament. Winning a play-in game wouldn't hurt.

No. 9 Georgia Tech (35-20 overall, 13-16 ACC)

ACC tournament titles: 9

Players to watch: Matt Gonzalez (.368, 9 HRs, 47 RBIs), Kel Johnson (.340, 11 HRs, 51 RBIS), Brandon Gold (7-3, 2.55 ERA, 71 Ks), Matthew Gorst (1-1, 0.49 ERA, 11 saves)

Outlook: The Yellow Jackets get to face a BC team Tuesday that they just lost two of three against. It was a disappointing weekend for a squad that had a chance at the sixth seed going into the final series. Georgia Tech has the kind of offense that could lead to a couple wins, though. The Yellow Jackets rank second in the ACC in runs (391) and batting average (.311).

No. 10 Wake Forest (32-23 overall, 13-17 ACC)

ACC tournament titles: 4

Players to watch: Will Craig (.392, 15 HRs, 62 RBIs), Gavin Sheets (.332, 9 HRs, 42 RBIs), Stuart Fairchild (.309, 4 HRs, 44 Ks), Parker Dunshee (8-4, 3.21 ERA, 77 Ks),

Outlook: Wake Forest snagged the last spot for this year's tournament when North Carolina lost to N.C. State on the last day of the regular season. Wake will have to get past Duke on Tuesday to make pool play, but Craig, who also leads the team in saves from the mound, is good enough to carry the Demon Deacons a little ways.

This article was written by Brad Senkiw from Anderson Independent Mail, S.C. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


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