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ACC Tournament Preview

The ACC Tournament returns to Durham for the first time since 2019 after two years in Charlotte. Six teams have seemingly locked up a bid for the NCAA Tournament but there's still much to play for. There are still schools fighting for Top 8 National Seeds, Regional hosting rights, and a few are even hoping for a miracle run at the conference's automatic bid. Georgia Tech, Notre Dame, and Virginia Tech are all in dire need of wins to improve their resumes while Pitt will be looking to play spoiler. North Carolina and North Carolina State are on the bubble and looking to avoid giving the selection committee an excuse to leave them out. It's been a wild season of ACC play and the tournament should continue in that vein.


Format

12 of the 14 ACC schools qualify for the tournament and are split into four pools of three teams each. The ACC's #1 seed goes into Pool A, while the other division champion will lead Pool B. Seeding follows by conference record regardless of division. The #3 seed will lead Pool C and the #4 seed will lead Pool D.


Each team in the pools face each other once, guaranteeing each team at the tournament at least two games. Any team that goes 2-0 in their pool will move on to the semi-finals while a pool that ends in a three-team deadlock at 1-1 means the highest seed advances to semi-finals. In the semis, the winner of Pool A will play the Winner of Pool D while the Pool B will play Pool C. The winners of those games will compete for the championship on Sunday.


Bracket

Pool A

Wednesday, 11 AM: #12 Pitt vs #8 Notre Dame

Thursday, 11 AM: #1 Wake Forest vs #12 Pitt

Friday, 7 PM: #8 Notre Dame vs #1 Wake Forest


Pittsburgh just narrowly qualified for the conference tournament after Louisville lost to Florida State on Saturday. The Panthers have no realistic shot at making the NCAA Tournament, so the ACC Tournament will be their playoffs. Winning a game would make this tournament successful for them while winning two would send them over the moon.


Notre Dame was inching towards a NCAA Regional berth but then lost a series to NC State and dropped a midweek matchup to Northwestern. Losing two of three at Boston College was most likely the final nail in the coffin, though a run to the tournament final could get them close. Their big decision will be whether to pitch ace Aiden Tyrell on Wednesday against Pitt or save him to start the Friday night game against #1 Wake Forest. Underestimating Pitt could prove fatal if they stumble before even facing Wake Forest.


Wake Forest is the #1 team in the nation and that's not likely to change regardless of what happens in Durham. Rhett Lowder, Josh Hartle, Sean Sullivan, and Seth Keener should be more than enough starting pitching to deliver a title. Nick Kurtz and Brock Wilken will look to add to their impressive stat-lines ahead of the NCAA Tournament.


Jake's Pool Winner: Wake Forest

Monty's Pool Winner: Wake Forest


Pool B

Tuesday, 3 PM: #11 Georgia Tech vs #7 North Carolina

Wednesday, 3 PM: #2 Virginia vs #11 Georgia Tech

Thursday, 3 PM: #7 North Carolina vs #2 Virginia


Like Notre Dame and Virginia Tech, the Yellow Jackets were unable to improve their resumes in the final weekend of the regular season as they were swept by Virginia. They'll get a chance for revenge, however, when they face UVA on Wednesday afternoon for the fourth time in less than a week. Georgia Tech will be looking at their outfield trio of Stephen Reid, Angelo Dispignia, and Jake DeLeo to stay hot. Freshman Luke Schmolke is expected to be the starter Tuesday while Aeden Finateri will likely go for the Jackets on Wednesday against Virginia.


North Carolina swept in-state rival NC State in a critical conference matchup two weeks and their postseason hopes were looking very good. The one thing they couldn't do was get swept at Clemson and unfortunately, that's exactly what happened. After going on a run and winning this tournament last year, UNC needs at least one win to feel good about their Regional chances again. Connor Bovair will likely take the mound on Tuesday after not pitching this past weekend, while Jake Knapp or Max Carlson will get the nod against Virginia. The lineup will be looking to get production out of Jackson Van De Brake, Casey Cook, and Tomas Frick around their stars Vance Honeycutt and Mac Horvath.


After a rough stretch in April, Virginia has won nine games in a row and are a lock to host an NCAA Regional. They're in the conversation for a Top 8 National Seed with Clemson should they have a good ACC Tournament. Kyle Teel is the ACC Player of the Year, while Jake Gelof hit 2 home runs on Saturday against Georgia Tech. They went 5-1 against the Yellow Jackets and Tar Heels, though they'll have to beat Georgia Tech for the 4th time in less than a week to go 2-0. Being the higher seed, however, means Virginia can advance if all three teams in the pool go 1-1. Nick Parker will likely pitch for the 'Hoos on Wednesday while Connelly Early will be the candidate to take the mound against North Carolina.


Jake's Pool Winner: Georgia Tech

Monty's Pool Winner: Virginia


Pool C

Tuesday, 11 AM: #10 Virginia Tech vs #6 Boston College

Wednesday, 7 PM: #3 Clemson vs #10 Virginia Tech

Friday, 11 AM: #6 Boston College vs #3 Clemson


After going 2-7 in their last three ACC series to end the regular season, Virginia Tech is very unlikely to make the NCAA Tournament. They'll need to go on a run and win the ACC to keep playing into June. We'll likely see Drue Hackenberg pitch on Tuesday against BC with Anthony Arguelles pitching Wednesday against Clemson. Virginia Tech's powerful lineup is good enough to go on a run, but can their pitching do enough for the Hokies to go on a 4-0 miracle run to sneak into the NCAAs?


Boston College appears to be a lock for their first NCAA appearance since 2016. They haven't hosted in over 50 years and a 2-0 record in pool play could boost their chances to do so in 2023. Chris Flynn will likely oppose the Hokies' Drue Hackenberg on Tuesday, while Henry Leake and John West will get consideration for their matchup with Clemson. Joe Vetrano comes in red hot after hitting three home runs in the Eagles' series against Notre Dame this past weekend.


Clemson is the hottest team in the country having won 12 straight and are 22-3 in their last 25 games. Their last loss came on April 28th to Boston College. They swept Virginia Tech in Blacksburg a couple of weeks ago and their lineup is scorching hot. Caden Grice is pitching gems and hitting moonshots while Billy Amick was back-to-back ACC Player of the Week these last two weeks. Grice pitched on Saturday against UNC in the regular season finale, so the Tigers are likely going with Ethan Darden and Austin Gordon in pool play.


Jake's Pool Winner: Clemson

Monty's Pool Winner: Virginia Tech


Pool D

Tuesday, 7 PM: #9 NC State vs #5 Duke

Thursday, 7 PM: #4 Miami vs #9 NC State

Friday, 3 PM: #5 Duke vs #4 Miami


NC State swept Pitt to earn the #9 seed and will face #5 Duke and #4 Miami on Tuesday and Thursday. Freshman DH Cannon Peebles was ACC Co-Player of the Week after going 6-8 with four extra bases and five walks this past weekend. Logan Whitaker, who was outstanding for the Wolfpack last Thursday, will get the nod on Tuesday against Duke while Matt Willadsen will pitch Thursday against Miami. Expect both Sam Highfill and Dominic Fritton to be available out of the bullpen as it's all hands on deck for NC State with many publications predicting them to be amongst the first four out of the NCAA Tournament.


Duke was looking poised to host an NCAA Regional before dropping back-to-back series to Georgia Tech and Miami to end the regular season. They're still a lock to make the NCAA Tournament, but they'll be eager to try and improve their resumes as a longshot to host. They'll continue to rely on their bullpen to win games, as James Tallon, Owen Proksch, and Fran Oschell provide the Blue Devils a lethal three-headed monster in the late innings.


Miami has been the most consistent ACC team outside of Wake Forest in 2023 and look set to host an NCAA Regional in Coral Gables once again. They took two of three from Duke at home this past weekend in a tightly contested matchup and will look to beat the Blue Devils again in pool play. Yandy Morales has been Miami's best player all season, while second baseman Blake Cyr and shortstop Dominic Pitelli will look to remain productive alongside the aforementioned Morales and star outfield Zach Levenson. Gage Ziehl will most likely pitch their opener, while the big name on Miami's pitching staff is closer Andrew Walters.


Jake's Pool Winner: Duke

Monty's Pool Winner: NC State


Semi-Finals

Saturday, 1 PM: Pool A Winner vs Pool D Winner

Saturday, 5 PM: Pool B Winner vs Pool C Winner


Jake's Winners: Wake Forest, Clemson

Monty's Winners: NC State, Virginia


Championship

Sunday, 12 PM: Semi-Final Winner vs Semi-Final Winner


Jake's ACC Champion: Clemson

Monty's ACC Champion: NC State

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