DURHAM -- This week's ACC Baseball Tournament is shaping up to be one of the best in recent memory. All eight teams appear to have punched their tickets to the NCAA Tournament, so the next five days promise to deliver some great action on the diamond. Check out Boydsworld.com's current RPI standings, and you'll see all eight ACC tournament qualifiers in the top 22 nationally. The team that emerges victorious on Sunday afternoon will have run through the ACC Baseball gauntlet.
As the #1 seed, Carolina got to choose their day off. With the Florida State game on Monday, Mike Fox and his staff elected to begin play on Thursday. That sets up their weekend rotation nicely. Kent Emanuel will throw on Thursday, Benton Moss on Friday and Hobbs Johnson on Sunday, just as they did last week for the series against Virginia. Let's take a look at the Tar Heels' matchups this week.
Thursday 3 p.m.
#1 North Carolina vs. #8 Miami
North Carolina sends the 2013 ACC Pitcher of the Year, junior left-hander Kent Emanuel (9-3, 2.28) to the bump, while Miami likely counters with sophomore LHP Andrew Suarez. Emanuel took the loss in a 4-1 Miami victory back on March 15th (Carolina's first loss of the year). He gave up just two hits through four before the Hurricanes struck for three runs in the 5th. Suarez was brilliant against the Tar Heels in the rubber match on Sunday. He allowed a single hit through 6.2 while punching out seven. Hurricane reliever A.J. Salcines was saddled with the loss as he gave up a three-run Skye Bolt home run in the 8th.
Carolina vs. Miami in 2013: 2-1, .300 batting average, .204 batting average against.
Friday 7 p.m.
#1 North Carolina vs. #5 Clemson
Carolina will stick to the script and go with sophomore RHP Benton Moss (8-1, 3.21). Moss got off to a brilliant start in 2 2/3 innings against the Tigers back on March 31, striking out six of the first seven batters he saw. Rain forced the game to be delayed until the next day, when Trent Thornton went the rest of the way for Carolina.
Clemson has not announced a starter, but look at a pair of freshmen, Matthew Crownover (7-2, 2.05), a lefty who has worked his way into the weekend rotation, or right-hander Clate Schmidt (3-3, 4.89). Schmidt started opposite Moss back on March 31 and was not sharp, giving up five hits and two runs in two innings. Crownover started the series finale for the Tigers, working 4 2/3 and giving up three runs on seven hits.
Carolina vs. Clemson in 2013: 2-1, .360 batting average, .229 batting average against.
Saturday 7 p.m.
#1 North Carolina vs. #4 N.C. State
Hobbs Johnson (4-0, 2.18) finally gets his shot at the Wolfpack while Elliott Avent's bunch goes with Carlos Rodon (8-2, 3.86). Johnson's game three start was rained out in Raleigh, while Rodon earned the win in game two for the Wolfpack. He was sharp against the Tar Heels, scattering seven hits across 6 2/3 innings, and the two runs charged to Rodon were due to a home run surrendered by reliever Grant Sasser. But Rodon has been hot and cold in 2013. Last weekend against Duke, he threw 128 pitches and struck out 15(!) in nine complete, but did allow six runs (four earned) in a 10-inning Wolfpack win.
Hobbs Johnson got off to a slow start in 2013, but appears to have gotten back on track. In his start after missing the N.C. State game, he threw five innings of two-hit baseball against the Citadel. He got off to a strong start last weekend against Virginia, allowing just two hits (three runs) in 7 1/3 innings.
Carolina vs. N.C. State in 2013: 1-1, .338 batting average, .290 batting average against.
This is a hard tournament to call, as all eight teams are playing good baseball. Carolina has beaten all three of these teams but has lost to all three of these teams in 2013. Emanuel has taken losses in his last two starts, so he'll look to rebound and make a good impression with fewer than two weeks until the MLB First-Year Player Draft. Moss was brilliant against the Tigers and will want to make up for lost time. Johnson was amped for that Monday start at N.C. State, and when it didn't happen, he threw fire two days later against the Citadel. Carolina took two tough weekend series losses over the last two weeks, but bounced back to knock off Florida State in a non-conference classic on Monday. Skye Bolt has returned to the Carolina lineup and with a 2-4 night against the Seminoles, appears to be getting his groove back. The Tar Heels could have used the switch-hitting Bolt against Rodon in Raleigh, but he'll get his shot on Saturday.
It's going to be a great tournament in Durham, even if it's not all that important. A team that is desperate to jump up a line in the NCAA Tournament, say from on the bubble to an at-large bid, or to grab a regional spot, could go all out this weekend. But you can easily burn out your pitching ahead of the NCAA Tournament, so the coaching staffs are going to be careful. Should the Tar Heels make Sunday's championship game, I wouldn't fret about throwing Chris Munnelly or Reilly Hovis, as they are almost definitely as good or better than any other team's fourth starter.
Again, it's going to be fun, so enjoy the games at DBAP this weekend.
Carolina spring sports teams continue their championship pursuits this weekend.
Men's Golf is tied for fourth in the Tempe Regional round of the NCAA Tournament. Play continues through Saturday.
Women's Tennis takes on Nebraska tonight at 8 in the third round of the NCAA Tournament in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. The winner takes on UCLA/Michigan winner Sunday at 5, with the national semifinals and finals following Monday and Tuesday.
Softball beat Wisconsin in extras Thursday night in their NCAA Regional. The Tar Heels play host Oregon at 2 today.
Baseball dropped the first game of a series with Virginia on Thursday. They'll need to win one of two to capture the Coastal Division crown and the #1 seed for next week's ACC Tournament. The Tar Heels and Cavaliers play at 7 Friday and 2 Saturday. Both games are sold out, but you can watch on ESPN3.
Carolina women's lacrosse plays Virginia Saturday at 1 with a trip to next weekend's Final Four on the line. Catch the game at Fetzer Field or watch on GoHeelsTV.
Sunday at 1, it's Carolina men's lacrosse against Denver in Indianapolis on ESPNU. The winner advances to the Final Four. The Pioneers eliminated the Tar Heels last season.
Danny Green's Spurs eliminated Harrison Barnes and the Warriors last night. It'll be San Antonio and Memphis (and Ed Davis) in the Western Conference Finals. That series begins Sunday at 3:30 on ABC.
Raymond Felton and the Knicks are trying to hang in the series with Tyler Hansbrough and the Pacers. Game Six is Saturday at 8 on ESPN.
Major League Baseball
Red-hot Matt Harvey and the New York Mets take on the Chicago Cubs Friday at 2:20 p.m. on WGN America.
The final weekend of the regular season is a huge one in ACC baseball. The division title races are not yet decided, and neither is the seeding for the ACC Tournament next week at DBAP. Let's take a look at the series rounding out conference play on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
North Carolina (20-5) vs. Virginia (20-7)
Carolina needs to win one more game to sew up the Coastal Division title and the top seed at the ACC Tournament. That's what you need to know heading into this huge weekend matchup with Virginia. The Tar Heels would still be ahead of the Cavaliers on conference win percentage even if Virginia is able to take two of three in Chapel Hill this weekend.
Consequently, Virginia needs a sweep to finish at 23-7 and ahead of the Tar Heels. Because the winners of the two ACC divisions will be the #1 and #2 seeds at the Tournament, one of Carolina and Virginia will be #1, and the other #3.
Florida State (18-9) vs. Clemson (17-10)
A series win for the Seminoles gets them the Atlantic Division title. However, if Clemson gets the sweep, it's the Tigers who'll get the nod and the second seed. Things get interesting, here, however, if Clemson only wins two. With a sweep at Duke, N.C. State would leap up and grab the Atlantic title IF Clemson wins two from FSU.
N.C. State (16-10) at Duke (9-18)
As noted above, the Wolfpack will have a shot at the Atlantic Division title, but they need to sweep AND have Clemson to go 2-1 at Florida State. In that case, State would finish at 19-10 and Florida State at 19-11. This could shuffle Florida State all the way down to the #5 seed. Duke could get in with a sweep AND a Georgia Tech sweep of Miami, as the Blue Devils took two of three from the Hurricanes this season.
Georgia Tech (14-13) at Miami (12-15)
The Yellow Jackets would currently be the sixth seed. IF Tech goes 3-0 in Coral Gables AND N.C. State is swept at Duke, the Jackets would have the 5. Miami needs at least one win to feel safe at 8. A series win by the Hurricanes bumps Miami to 6 or 7, depending on . . .
Virginia Tech (13-14) vs. Wake Forest (9-18)
The Hokies are in at 7 and could go as high as 6 with a sweep. Wake Forest needs a sweep AND a Georgia Tech sweep of Miami to sneak in.
Maryland (9-18) vs. Boston College (3-23)
These teams are out of luck, particularly Maryland. Even if they somehow got to 12 wins, they'd lose a tiebreaker to Miami. Even if Duke sweeps N.C. State and it's a three-team tie, Miami gets the nod by virtue of their one win over Carolina. We could even have a four-way tie if Wake Forest sweeps Virginia Tech, Maryland and Duke sweep and Miami is swept. In that case, Wake Forest wins the tiebreak with the best win percentage against tied teams.
So, here's how they stack up now, and based on my calculations, here's the highest and lowest they can go:
Now, what do I think is going to happen, you ask? I think Carolina is very likely to get at least one win against Virginia and the top seed. Florida State wins their series over Clemson 2-1, so they take the #2. The third seed goes to Virginia. N.C. State wins two out of three over Duke, but it's not enough if Clemson takes one from FSU. So, you have #4 Clemson and #5 N.C. State. Miami wins two of three at home against mercurial Georgia Tech, and Virginia Tech takes two of three from Wake Forest. That has #6 Georgia Tech, #7 Virginia Tech, and #8 Miami.
What would that mean for Carolina? Round-robin play against #4 Clemson, #5 N.C. State and #8 Miami. Three teams that each took a win from the Tar Heels in 2013. What the heck, let's go ahead and slot when those games would be played? The ACC Tournament runs Wednesday through Sunday. The #1 seed gets to pick their day off, and I imagine Mike Fox would take Thursday, as the week would then set up normally, like one midweek game and a weekend series (counting Sunday). Also, we know the ACC wants fans in seats and TV eyes for prime time matchups. So here we go:
11 a.m. #3 Virginia vs. #6 Georgia Tech
3 p.m. #2 Florida State vs. #7 Virginia Tech
7 p.m. #1 North Carolina vs. #8 Miami
11 a.m. #2 Florida State vs. #6 Georgia Tech
3 p.m. #3 Virginia vs. #7 Virginia Tech
7 p.m. #4 Clemson vs. #5 N.C. State
11 a.m. #6 Georgia Tech vs. #7 Virginia Tech
3 p.m. #5 N.C. State vs. #8 Miami
7 p.m. #1 North Carolina vs. #4 Clemson
11 a.m. #2 Florida State vs. #3 Virginia
3 p.m. #4 Clemson vs. #8 Miami
7 p.m. #1 North Carolina vs. #5 N.C. State
1 p.m. Championship game
Just for fun, of course.
Greetings from Atlanta, where the Diamond Heels are set to take on Georgia Tech in a pivotal ACC series. There's lots to get to today, so let's get started.
Women's Golf is tied for sixth after one day of play at the NCAA East Regional in Auburn, AL. Jackie Chang is one stroke off the lead. The Tar Heels will begin teeing off around 1 today.
Women's Tennis is seeded second overall in the NCAA Tournament. They'll begin play today at 1 against South Carolina State at Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center. The winner faces the VCU/Tennessee winner Saturday at 11.
Baseball is at Georgia Tech this weekend for games Friday at 7, Saturday at 6 and Sunday at 1. All games are available on ESPN3, the Tar Heel Sports Network and SiriusXM College Sports, channel 91.
Carolina's Track and Field teams are split across three last-chance meets this weekend ahead of NCAA competition.
Men's Lacrosse begins NCAA play with a game against Lehigh Saturday at noon at Fetzer Field. Watch on ESPN2 or ESPN3.
Rowing is at the ACC Championship in Clemson Sunday morning.
Women's Lacrosse awaits the winner of Loyola and High Point. They'll start their NCAA Tournament Sunday at 1.
Tar Heels in the Pros
Danny Green's San Antonio Spurs are tied at a game apiece with Harrison Barnes and the Golden State Warriors. Game Three is Friday at 10:30 in Oakland on ESPN.
The Thunder and Grizzlies are also tied at 1-1. Ed Davis and Memphis take on OKC in Game Three Saturday at 5 on ESPN.
Raymond Felton's Knicks take on Tyler Hansbrough and the Indiana Pacers Saturday at 8 on ABC. That series is also tied at 1-1.
Matt Harvey tossed one of the top pitching performances of the last 97 years on Tuesday. Nine innings, one hit, 12 Ks, no walks. Harvey faces the Pittsburgh Pirates Sunday at 1:10.
Just in time for Mother's Day, here's a sweet article on Kyle Seager's mom.
Dustin Ackley is hitting his stride at the plate.
The ACC Baseball Tournament has kind of a strange format (it's changing for 2014) with two divisions of round-robin play followed by a championship game. The Atlantic and Coastal Division champions are the top seed in respective divisions, with the next six teams filling in regardless of division. A lot could change in the next two weeks, but just for fun let's go ahead and see how the tournament would look if the season ended today. Here's our premature evaluation:
#1-seed Carolina (19-3, .864) is on top of the Coastal Division and would have the top seed in the tournament. The Tar Heels had two conference games canceled due to weather: Sunday March 24 vs. Boston College (ironically originally scheduled to be played at BC but moved to Chapel Hill because of conditions there) and Sunday April 28 at N.C. State. If the Tar Heels play the rest of their games without incident, they'll still finish with only 28 conference games, two fewer than most teams. Finishing up: at Georgia Tech; Virginia. To guarantee the Coastal Division title: Go at least 3-3 over the next two conference weekends.
Florida State (16-8, .667) sits atop the Atlantic Division and headlines the other division. N.C. State (15-8, .652) is a half-game behind Florida State in the Atlantic Division. That's because the third game between the Wolfpack and the Tar Heels was canceled. Had the Pack played and won that game, they'd be tied with the Seminoles. Up next for Florida State: at N.C. State; Clemson. To guarantee Atlantic Division title: Go at least 5-1 OR 4-2 if two wins come in Raleigh.
Safe Tournament qualifiers
#3 Virginia (17-7, .708) Finishing up: Duke; at North Carolina. To win the Coastal Division title, Virginia needs to win out (they will have swept Carolina) AND hope Carolina drops at least one at Georgia Tech.
#4 N.C. State (15-8, .652) Finishing up: Florida State; at Duke.
#5 Clemson (17-10, .630) Finishing up: at Florida State (5/16-18).
Not quite clinched yet
#6 Georgia Tech (12-12, .500) Finishing up: North Carolina; at Miami.
#7 Virginia Tech (13-14, .481) Finishing up: Wake Forest (5/16-18).
#8 Miami (11-13, .458) Finishing up: at Wake Forest; Georgia Tech.
|Division A||Division B|
|#1 North Carolina||#2 Florida State|
|#8 Miami||#7 Virginia Tech|
|#4 N.C. State||#3 Virginia|
|#5 Clemson||#6 Georgia Tech|
That's how it would work out right now. The teams in Divisions A and B would play round-robin, with the top two teams by record or tiebreaker advancing to play in the championship. Two interesting things to note: These divisions look very similar to last year's. Florida State and Carolina were the #1 and #2 seeds last year, and Carolina played Miami, N.C. State and Wake Forest, while Florida State played Virginia, Clemson and Georgia Tech. Also, the three teams in the same division with Carolina are the teams that have handed the Tar Heels their only three conference losses. But, things will very likely change, if not the teams in the top eight, then within those tournament divisions.
Missing the cut
#9 Duke (9-15, .375) Finishing up: at Virginia, N.C. State.
#10 Maryland (9-18, .333) Finishing up: Boston College (5/16-18).
#11 Wake Forest (7-17, .292) Finishing up: Miami, at Virginia Tech.
#12 Boston College (3-23, .115) Finishing up: at Maryland (5/16-18).
Duke could sneak in with a miracle run and an epic Miami collapse. It's going to be hard for Maryland, as they'd need to sweep BC have Miami lose out AND have Duke lose four of six. The Wake Forest/Miami series will be key to determining both teams' postseason hopes. Boston College is out of luck.
Exams may be winding down, and graduation is this weekend, but Carolina has several teams fighting for an NCAA championship this spring. Here's a look at the week ahead.
Despite sitting at #1 in most polls, the ACC champion Tar Heels are the fifth-overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. They'll host Lehigh Saturday at noon at Fetzer Field and on ESPN2. The author of the CollegeCrosse blog, who knows significantly more about college lacrosse than I do, says Carolina is "significantly under-seeded." The winner of Carolina/Lehigh will face Albany or fourth-seeded Denver next Sunday.
#2 Carolina is seeded second overall and will face South Carolina St. Friday at 1 p.m. at Cone-Kenfield Tennis Center. The winner of that match will advance to face the Tennessee/VCU winner on Saturday at 11. The Tar Heels are 25-3 on the season.
NCAA Regionals begin Thursday. Carolina is in the East Region at will play at Auburn, Ala.
Welcome to the weekend! It's time for the exam break, so it's a rather quiet weekend in terms of Carolina athletics.
Track is at the Duke Twilight meet on Sunday.
And that's it. Baseball has the weekend off, Women's Tennis begins NCAA play next Friday. Both women's lacrosse and ACC champion men's lacrosse will learn their NCAA draw Sunday night. The softball selection show is not until Sunday May 12. Women's golf has NCAA regionals beginning next weekend, with men's golf following the week after.
THM contributor Lauren Brownlow writes on the fainting goat prank that got Bryn Renner at spring practice.
ESPN will cover the entire NCAA Baseball Tournament. Just remember to turn down the sound...
Tar Heels in the Pros
Harrison Barnes and the Golden State Warriors eliminated Ty Lawson's Denver Nuggets in Game 6 last night. The Warriors face Danny Green and the Spurs in Round Two.
There are four Game 6's in the NBA Playoffs Friday night.
Raymond Felton has been a star for the Knicks in the playoffs. New York will try to finish off Boston Friday at 7 on ESPN.
Meanwhile on ESPN2, it's Tyler Hansbrough and the Indiana Pacers at Atlanta.
Oklahoma City and Houston play on ESPN at 9:30, and Ed Davis and the Memphis Grizzlies face off with the Clippers on ESPN2.
Former Diamond Heel Matt Harvey (4-0 in six starts) was named April's National League Pitcher of the Month. Harvey next takes the mound against the Braves Sunday at 1:35 on TBS.
Luke Putkonen was called up to the Tigers Thursday, and Thursday night he got his first Major League win as Detroit topped Houston in 14 innings.
Jess Root of SBNation gives the Arizona Cardinals an A+ for their selection of Jonathan Cooper.
Meanwhile, the Denver Broncos got good marks for taking Sly Williams.
Marvin Lewis was impressed with Giovani Bernard at Carolina's Pro Day, and the Bengals made Gio the first running back chosen in the draft.
This is great. Home movies of I Love Lucy in color.
Greetings, true believers! It's a huge weekend in Carolina athletics, both in spring sports and for former Tar Heels taking their talents to the next level. Let's get to it.
In the first round of the NFL Draft last night, the Arizona Cardinals selected Jonathan Cooper seventh overall, and the Broncos got Sylvester Williams at 28.
For fun, I decided to check on the reaction in the Phoenix and Denver papers. Bob Young's column in the Arizona Republic focuses on the first draft for new GM Steve Keim (a former NC State guard) and writes that while "Cooper may not be a sexy pick," he can be a huge part of the rebuilding process under new coach Bruce Arians. Here's Coop's post-pick interview. The folks in Denver seem extremely happy, as no one thought Sly would fall to them. On a personal note, I'll say that both cities are in for a treat, as they each got high-caliber players with even higher character. Cooper and Williams will represent Carolina well on the next level.
It should be noted that former Tar Heel Bucky Brooks had Cooper and Williams pegged right on the money last week. He eventually changed Coop to 8 and Sly to 14, but at the time I wrote my column, Bucky was all over it.
The Draft continues tonight with rounds two and three beginning at 6:30. Which Tar Heel(s) could go tonight? NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal and Mike Mayock say Giovani Bernard is the 20th-best player still on the board.
Last week, Adam gave you an impressive guide to Tar Heels in the playoffs. Let's see how they're doing.
Miami leads John Henson and Milwaukee, 3-0. Game 4 is in Milwaukee, Sunday at 4:30 on ABC. Henson has 6 points and 7 rebounds through three games.
Danny Green and San Antonio are up 2-0 on the Lakers. Game 3 is Friday at 10:30 on ESPN from Los Angeles. Danny has 8 points and 5 rebounds through two games.
Ty Lawson's Denver Nuggets and Harrison Barnes and Golden State are tied at a game apiece. Game 3 is in Oakland, Friday at 10:30. Ty is averaging 15.5 points and 8 assists; Harrison had 24 in Game 2. He also did this:
Carolina is #1. N.C. State is #6 and streaking. The two teams are atop their respective divisions in the ACC and clash this weekend in Raleigh. The games are set for Friday at 6:30 (ESPN3), Saturday at 6:30 (ESPN3), and Sunday at 7 (ESPNU). It's possibly the biggest regular-season series in state history. The Wolfpack bring a 15-game win streak into the series, while the Tar Heels, despite dropping a 9-8 decision to UNCW on Tuesday, have won 40 of 43 games in 2013. It's been a back-and-forth affair between these two teams of late: in 2011 in Raleigh, the Wolfpack swept the Tar Heels. Last year, Carolina took two of three in Chapel Hill and won an extra-inning affair in the ACC Tournament in Greensboro. Here's a look at how the teams stack up.
Junior LHP Kent Emanuel (8-1, 1.82 ERA) toes the rubber for the Tar Heels, while N.C. State counters with senior RHP Ryan Wilkins (5-1, 3.16).
Emanuel is 0-1 in two starts against the Wolfpack. As a freshman, he gave up five hits and two earned runs in 1.1. innings. Last year in Chapel Hill, Emanuel took the loss after throwing 6.2 and allowing five hits and three runs, though none of them were earned. This year, he is averaging nearly eight innings per start and has tossed three complete games, with 58 strikeouts against 14 walks. Opponents are hitting .211 off of Emanuel.
Wilkins, a junior college transfer, has thrown just five pitches against the Tar Heels. In Greensboro, he stopped the bleeding and ended a four-run 12th with a strikeout of Michael Russell. Friday night will be Wilkins' fourth start of the year (he has 11 relief appearances). He entered the weekend rotation two weeks ago at Boston College, where he scattered five hits and two earned runs across seven innings.
Carolina sends sophomore RHP Benton Moss (7-0, 2.81) against N.C. State sophomore LHP Carlos Rodon (4-2, 4.48). Both pitchers have two appearances in this rivalry, but neither has a decision.
Moss gave up four hits and two runs (none earned) in a March 26, 2012 start against the Wolfpack. Two months later in Greensboro, he gave up two hits in 5.1 scoreless innings. This year, Moss is averaging nearly six innings per start.
Rodon struck out seven and allowed seven hits in 6.2 in March. He threw nine shutout innings in Greensboro, allowing just four hits. Last weekend in Atlanta, Rodon tossed a two-hit, complete game shutout of the Yellow Jackets.
Junior LHP Hobbs Johnson (2-0, 2.45) faces off with freshman RHP Brad Stone (2-1, 6.23) in the series finale.
Johnson pitched an inning of relief in Raleigh in 2011, with a hit allowed and a strikeout. Last year, he allowed just one hit in four innings of relief in March, and two hits in 1.1 in that Greensboro classic. This year, some arm tightness limited his innings early. In the last two weeks, he's gotten both the run support and the solid outings to put together his first two decisions of the year.
Stone, a Charlotte native, was a high school teammate of Tar Heels Chris McCue and Trent Thornton at Ardrey Kell.
At the beginning of the season, Carolina was searching for a replacement for closer Michael Morin. The answer hadn't been well-defined until recently, when freshman Trent Thornton stepped into the role. Thornton (8-1, 3 saves, 0.88 ERA) began the year as a midweek starter but proved his value out of the bullpen on weekends. The Tar Heels have several options to get to Thornton, including sophomore right-handers Trevor Kelley (2.28 ERA, .151 Batting Average Against) and Chris McCue (1.36, .182). Junior Tate Parrish (0.00, .118) could very well be called upon as a matchup lefty, and senior RHP Chris Munnelly could be available later in the weekend if necessary.
A pair of seniors, RHP Chris Overman (0.00, .101) and LHP Grant Sasser (0.59, .158) are the experienced shut-down men for the Pack. Righties Andrew Woeck (3.60, .237) and Josh Easley (1.65, .243) and LHP Travis Orwig (1.84, .204) have made many appearances as well.
At the Plate/ In the Field
Carolina hits .316 as a team and averages nearly 9 runs per contest. Junior 3B Colin Moran leads the way with a .395 batting average and 67 runs driven in, best in the nation. A more patient Cody Stubbs (.376, 57) is dangerous as well, and Brian Holberton (.345, 34) has helped tremendously in taking his share of the offensive load since Skye Bolt's injury. Parks Jordan (.317, 19) has taken advantage of increased playing time in the last two weeks. The Tar Heels certainly miss Bolt's versatility, as the switch-hitter provides some variety in the lineup, but the Tar Heel bats are swinging it well. Leadoff man Chaz Frank has been outstanding since returning from a hamstring injury.
N.C. State hits .284 a team and averages better than 6.5 runs per game. Sophomore shortstop Trea Turner sets the tone up front for the Wolfpack. He owns the ACC's best batting average (.438) and can burn the basepaths. Turner leads N.C. State with 48 runs scored despite missing ten games with a sprained ankle. 1B Tarran Senay (.333) is the reigning ACC Player of the Week after driving in nine in a sweep of Georgia Tech. The cleanup man has 45 RBI, 14 better than his next-closest teammate (Turner). Catcher Brett Austin is hitting .294 from the third spot in the lineup. Rightfielder Jake Fincher too is dangerous hitting behind Turner.
As a team, Carolina has fielded the ball a bit more cleanly through 43 games (.974 to .965 fielding percentage), while State has turned more double plays (31 to 19). Both teams should be wary of base-runners. The Wolfpack attempt better than two base thefts per game, while the Tar Heels have executed the hit-and-run to perfection.
It's going to be a tremendous series, and either team should be thrilled with taking two out of three this weekend.
It's a busy weekend in Tar Heel athletics. As you'll see, many Tar Heel teams are ranked among the nation's best and certainly worth your time.
#1 Baseball hosts Duke Friday at 3, Saturday at 6 and Sunday at 2. Those games are available on ESPN3 and the baseball affiliates of the Tar Heel Sports Network. Saturday's sold-out game is Military Appreciation Day and features fireworks afterward. Sunday (sold out as well), both teams will participate in the Vs. Cancer fundraiser, shaving their heads to help with children's cancer awareness.
Colin Moran has moved from #30 to #12 in Keith Law's Future 50 (ESPN Insider).
#9 Women's golf is at the ACC Championships near Greensboro.
#1 Women's tennis is scheduled to face off with Boston College in Dedham, Mass. Friday at 5. As of this morning, the team was safe in their hotel in the Boston area. The Tar Heels are scheduled to stop in College Park for a Sunday 10 a.m. match with Maryland on the way home.
Track and field is at the ACC Outdoor championships in Raleigh Friday evening and Saturday.
#2 Women's lacrosse is at Vanderbilt Sunday at noon.
#2 Men's lacrosse hosts High Point Saturday at 1.
#25 Softball hosts Georgia Tech with a double header Sunday (1 and 3) and the series finale Monday at 7 on ESPNU.
The NFL Draft begins Thursday. On Monday, we'll have a look at the draft projections of several Tar Heels.