FSU, UVa, Miami favorites at ACC baseball tourney

May. 19, 2014 @ 10:57 PM

Florida State already ended the Atlantic Coast Conference's national title drought in football.

Now the Seminoles want to take care of an even longer one in baseball.

It's been nearly 60 years since an ACC team won the College World Series.

The league tournament begins Tuesday in Greensboro, North Carolina, and the Seminoles enter it as one of the favorites — along with Virginia and cross-state rival Miami — to play deep into June.

Coach Mike Martin said Monday that tournament play is "what we started working toward when we began in August."

Division winners Miami (40-15) and Florida State (41-14) hold the top spots in their five-team pools for the round-robin tournament.

The expanded league doesn't have its customary top-to-bottom strength and all the power. Instead, it seems top-heavy with everyone chasing those three.

Virginia (43-11) is No. 1 in the most recent RPI, the Seminoles are No. 3 and the Hurricanes check in at No. 12.

But the next ACC team to show up in the rankings is Maryland at No. 28. Last year, all eight teams in the field were in the top 22 of the RPI.

"I don't think there's any clear-cut favorite," Clemson coach Jack Leggett said.

Five things to know about the ACC baseball tournament:

AN EYE ON OMAHA: No ACC team has won the national championship since Wake Forest in 1955. That's by far the longest drought among the power conferences in Division I. Florida State remains the sport's winningest program without a championship while Miami won all four of its titles, including two under current coach Jim Morris, before it joined the league in 2004. Since Wake Forest's title, 42 teams have represented the ACC in Omaha, Nebraska, and all of them came home empty-handed — including rivals North Carolina and N.C. State last year.

FAMOUS JAMEIS: Maybe some of Jameis Winston's championship charm can rub off on his Florida State teammates. The Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback led the Seminoles to the BCS title in football four months ago. He leads the baseball team with six saves and a 1.29 ERA while striking out 26 in 28 innings.

WORK TO DO: It looks like the three favorites are each coming to Greensboro with something to prove. Virginia dropped two of three to Wake Forest last weekend, its first series loss of the season, and fell out of the No. 1 spot in the Baseball America Top 25. Florida State has lost three of five. Surging Miami has gone 27-3 since a rough mid-March stretch in which it lost seven of 10, but Morris says "we're kind of on the bubble for a national seed" in the NCAA tournament.

SUPER-SIZED TOURNAMENT: The tournament field swelled to 10 teams because of expansion and the bottom two teams in each five-team group will face play-in games Tuesday for the right to advance to three games of pool play. The North Carolina-N.C. State winner advances into Florida State's four-team group while Georgia Tech and Wake Forest face off for the final spot in Miami's group.

RIVALRY RENEWED: The Tar Heels and the Wolfpack will play this year after all. The two neighborhood rivals are slogging through uncharacteristic down seasons, and they haven't met since their two meetings last year at the College World Series. They weren't scheduled to play a conference series this season and their one-game showdown April 15 in Durham was rained out. UNC coach Mike Fox says "the stars seemed to have aligned to continue our tradition of playing N.C. State every year."

ACC TOURNAMENT
Game    Date    Time    Matchup
1 (Pool B play-in)     Today     11 a.m.     N.C. State vs. North Carolina (Fox Sports Carolina)
2 (Pool A play-in)     Today     3 p.m.     Georgia Tech vs. Wake Forest (Fox Sports Carolina)
3     May 21     11 a.m.     Duke vs. Clemson
4     May 21     3 p.m.     Miami vs. Winner Game 2
5     May 21     7 p.m.     Florida State vs. Winner Game 1
6     May 22     11 a.m.     Virginia vs. Maryland
7     May 22     3 p.m.     Duke vs. Winner Game 2
8     May 22     7 p.m.     Miami vs. Clemson
9     May 23     11 a.m.     Florida State vs. Maryland
10     May 23     3 p.m.     Clemson vs. Winner Game 2
11     May 23     7 p.m.     Virginia vs. Winner Game 1
12     May 24     11 a.m.     Miami vs. Duke
13     May 24     3 p.m.     Maryland vs. Winner Game 1
14     May 24     7 p.m.     Florida State vs. Virginia
15     May 25     1 p.m.     Winner Pool B vs. Winner Pool A

ACC announces baseball award winners

GREENSBORO — Florida State outfielder DJ Stewart is the Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year.

The league announced its award winners Monday, one day before the conference tournament begins in Greensboro.

Miami's Chris Diaz and Virginia's Nathan Kirby were selected co-pitchers of the year and the Cavaliers' Brian O'Connor was picked as coach of the year for the second straight season.

Stewart leads the ACC with a .362 batting average and shares the league lead with 47 RBIs and 19 doubles.

Diaz is 9-0 with a 2.32 ERA and 78 strikeouts. Kirby is 8-1 and threw a no-hitter against Pittsburgh on April 4.

O'Connor won the coaching award for the fifth time in his 11 seasons at Virginia (43-11).