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ACC Tournament X-Factors: North Carolina

via @DiamondHeels/X

With 12 days remaining until the first pitch of the ACC Tournament, College Baseball Central is breaking down the biggest X-Factor for each team in Charlotte.

At the time of writing, the North Carolina Tar Heels sit atop the ACC standings, meaning they will kick off our 12-part series. Also, at the end of each new X-Factor installment, I will try to put a number on the level of concern each situation causes me.

X-Factor: A third reliable starter

Scott Forbes has two stars on the mound, with Shea Sprague and Jason Decaro both ranking within the top-11 in the ACC in earned run average. But the Tar Heels have yet to find a consistent third option to round out their rotation. Outside of their two aces, seven different UNC pitchers have at least one start to their name in 2024.

As the season winds down, it appears that Aidan Haugh will take on the role of starter No. 3 for the Tar Heels. The junior right-hander has contributed 38.1 innings of work in 27 appearances, with four starts scattered throughout the season. Haugh's ERA of 3.29 is deceptive, however, as a number of early-season relief appearances against inferior opponents inflates the number.

If not Haugh, expect Folger Boaz or Olin Johnson to get the call. Despite their youth, both guys have big game experience as both a starter and as a reliever. And while the numbers may look rough for the freshmen, both have showcased flashes of greatness throughout the season.

Concern Level: 1 out of 10

My concern with the Tar Heels remains low. Despite the question mark in their rotation, two high-level starters is still more than most programs can claim. With an electric offense and a more than serviceable bullpen (and staff overall), the Tar Heels may just be the best team in the ACC.

To be completely honest, it was extremely hard to pick a weakness for this team as they are such a sound program overall. So, please do not yell at me in the CBC Twitter (X) mentions.

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