***UPDATED: Pitching Rotations are set. Wilson vs. Wake; Roberts vs. Miami, Hultzen vs. UNC****
Well the dust has settled from last weekend. And while nationally the Hoos took a hit, their overall outlook has not changed at all. Now, everyone starts out 0-0 and will have to show their worth as the ACC Conference Tournament begins on Wednesday. Here is our updated look at UVa’s chances on the league and national tittle.
Let’s start with the national outlook. Virginia fell to 5th in the CBI Composite Poll, behind the big 3 from the SEC (South Carolina, Vanderbilt, and Florida) and Big XII favorite Texas. What this means for national seedings is that the Hoos will not be the #1 overall seed in the NCAA Tourney, which will be reserved for the winner of the SEC. Other scenarios include:
#2 if the Cavs win the ACC and Texas loses the Big XII
#3 if the Cavs win the ACC and Texas wins the Big XII
#4 or #5 if the Cavs go to the ACC Final game, but lose, another SEC team can sneak in.
#6 to #8 if Virginia does not get out of poll play
All sports bureaus believe that the Hoos, based on their regular season play and RPI already have mustered a national seed, so it will just come down to posturing and a little bit of luck. It will take a huge meltdown to move down to just “Regional Host” position, but that is unlikely. Now we’ll take a look at the matchups in the ACC.
We have been locked in on the two Pools for about a couple weeks now, and it will favor the Hoos from here on out. Partly due to Virginia’s commanding lead in the ACC, but more so due to Brian changing up the rotation last weekend to allow Virginia getting the best pitchers the most rest. Pool A is #1 UVA, #4 UNC, #5 Miami, and #8 Wake. Pool B is #2 FSU, #3 GT, #6 Clemson, and #7 NCSU. As we have stated before, Virginia caught a huge break by staying out of Pool B, which has four teams that will most likely all go to the NCAA. So here is how we see the tourney playing out.
Game 1: #3 GT vs. #6 Clemson
The Tigers took 2 of 3 from GT in the end of April and Clemson is coming off a big series win against FSU. The Jackets struggled against also-ran VT last weekend, and might be running against one of the hotter teams now in the ACC. Winner: Clemson
GAME 2: #1 UVA vs. #8 Wake Forest
Probable Pitcher: Tyler Wilson (6-0, 2.54 ERA)
Let’s not knock the Deacs to much. They are 8-2 in their last 10 games and could have easily been the #7 seed if it wasn’t for their head-to-head with NC State. But Wake’s last 3 series have come against team not in the ACC tourney (BC, Duke, and Maryland). Before that they dropped 3 straight series, including one to VT. Look for this game to be the confidence booster the Hoos need. Winner: Virginia.
Game 3: #2 FSU vs. #7 NCSU
By virtue of their Atlantic Coastal Division title, the Noles are the #2 seed in the tourney, instead of a #4 seed, where they finished overall. And while UVa might have a history with NC State, Florida State doesn’t, and they should take this first game with ease. Winner: FSU
Game 4: #4 UNC vs. #5 Miami
This will be a game Brian & Co. will watch very closely on their day off. UNC slid into the 4 seed by sweeping Miami and that Miami did not make up their game with BC, which could have flip-flopped the seedings. UNC is playing very, very good ball right now, but Miami won the series earlier this year. This one should go the distance, but if UNC pitches anywhere close to how they did last weekend, it should go in their favor. Winner: UNC.
Game 5: #2 Florida State vs. #6 Clemson
A rematch of last weekend’s Atlantic Division battle that Clemson ended up winning, but FSU still ended up #2. It all comes down to pitching depth, and if FSU held off pitching their number 1 pitcher against NCSU, they should be able to win this game. Winner: FSU.
Game 6: #3 GT vs. #7 NC State
Either if GT wins or losses the first game, this is a must win for the Jackets. And if the series sweep against the Pack this year is any indication, they know how to take care of business. Winner: Georgia Tech
GAME 7: #1 UVa vs. #5 Miami
Friday, 11 am
Probable Pitcher: Will Roberts (10-1)
If Wilson goes in game 1, their is no doubt that Hultzen goes in game 2. Partly to make sure that the Hoos get to 2-0 in Pool play and partly due to keeping the option open for Hultzen to be semi-ready if needed on Sunday. And while he has lost 3 of the last 4 games, he has only had 3 bad innings, which saw a lot of unearned runs cross the plate. Danny showed that he can pitch well against good teams, and he should be ready for the rematch. Winner: Virginia.
Game 8: #2 FSU vs. #3 GT
The Noles could lose this game, go into a 3 way tie for top in Pool B and leave it up to the polls, but with GT ahead of them in one of the 4 main polls, it might make this a must win for the Noles. These two teams did not play in the regular season, and they both have had hot and cold days. For the sake of getting into it, we’ll say FSU wins. Just a hunch. Winner: FSU
Game 9: #4 UNC vs. #8 Wake
This is one of the more interesting matchups. Wake won the series earlier on the year and in game 2 obliterated UNC 10-2. But UNC is playing much better now, and will have their eyes on UVA. Winner: UNC.
Game 10: #6 Clemson vs. #7 NC State
The Pack should be out of it after day one. Clemson would need a 3 game sweep to advance, as they own no tiebreakers. Both will be playing for seeding, but it looks like they are locked into 2 and 3 regional seeds already so it is just going though the motions for both teams. It will be hard to think the Pack go 0-3 in the ACC. Winner: NC State.
Game 11: #5 Miami vs. #8 Wake
Miami will throw everything at this game, especially if they take either the UVa or UNC game, but if not, they will look for an opportunity for a home regional. Wake, well, thanks for playing. Winner: Miami.
GAME 12: #1 UVa vs. #4 UNC
Probable Pitcher: Hultzen (9-3)
There is an old adage in ACC Basketball: It is next to impossible to win three games against the same opponent in one year. Virginia was humbled by UNC last week, but they didn’t play all that bad. A lot can happen in 11 games, and one or both of these teams could be out of it by this time. Brian will make a game time decision about this game. Roberts had a great game against UNC and has seen the Heel lineup this year. Wilson could come in relief or start this game, but either way it will come down to hitting for the Hoos. We will stick by the ole adage and put the Hoos through. Winner: Virginia
#1 UVA vs #2 FSU
Not much of a shocker on this one. The matchups favor both teams early on in the tournament and 2-0 starts usually push those teams on in this format. The good news for both of these teams is that they will have Friday caliber pitchers on the mound. If Virginia gets this far, they will most likely have Wilson on the mound, because he will have the most rest, but if somehow Hultzen gets a huge lead on Miami, he could get pulled early and go here as well. So many scenarios, but the Hoos swept FSU, including two in extra innings. I won’t pick this game, but Virginia knows how to win this game, and the last time they won the ACC tourney, they beat FSU. Just saying.
Worst case scenario for the Hoos is a 2-1 record and no trip to the final game, which would but them in the spot they were last year nationally, in about a #5 seed. There, they could meet either Texas A&M, UCONN, Rice, or *sigh* Oklahoma.
Just stay tuned.