For the first time in the Mike Gambino era, Boston College is looking to factor into the ACC Tournament race in baseball. Following last weekend's sweep of the Duke Blue Devils, the Eagles are now 4-7 in conference play with arguably their toughest series (Louisville and Florida State) out of the way. This is really the first time we've had a bandwagon picking up steam, so with April dawning upon us, let's take a look at what might await the Eagles if they can keep the good vibrations rolling.
ACC Tournament: May 19-24, Durham Bulls Athletic Park, Durham, NC
Since 2009, the ACC Tournament's alternated between two locations: NewBridge Bank Park in Greensboro, NC (the home of the Class A Greensboro Grasshoppers) and Durham Bulls Athletic Park in Durham, NC (the home of the Class AAA Durham Bulls, North Carolina Central, and ACC member Duke). This year, however, Durham begins a four-year stint as the only host, entertaining the masses continuously through 2018.
With Syracuse as the lone conference member without baseball, the league splits nicely into two seven-team divisions (Notre Dame plays in the Atlantic Division for baseball). The top ten teams make the tournament based on winning percentage, regardless of division, with the two division winners earning the top two seeds.
The bottom four seeds play each other in a single-elimination game format, with the winners advancing to take on the two division winners after re-seeding. Seeds 3-6 are determined by whoever is left, and the remaining brackets play double-elimination format through two brackets.
The first bracket hosts the top seed (best division winner) against the lowest-seeded play-in winner, as well as the 4-vs-5 matchup. The second bracket hosts the second seed against the best-seeded play-in winner along with the 3-vs-6 matchup.
At present, the ACC playoff picture looks something like the following. Bear in mind that the games back in the overall represent what a team would need in order to factor into the overall playoff race. The divisional race becomes important because the teams in the Coastal Division are much closer to the top than teams catching ACC newcomer Louisville. Also bear in mind that games outright canceled (such as the third game between BC and NC State) are not made up. That becomes a huge factor; as you can see, the half-game difference is what's keeping the Eagles out of the postseason right now:
|Team||Record||GB (Division)||GB (Overall)|
Obviously, right now, the canceled game is what's potentially keeping the Eagles out of the playoffs. But bear in mind they still have to play everyone in front of them, starting with Wake Forest this weekend. They also do not have to play Miami or Virginia, and they've already finished games against Louisville and FSU. Conversely, they do not play Pittsburgh this year but have a full series with Notre Dame awaiting them in the future.
NCAA Tournament: May 29-June 24, 2015, Various Sites (Ending in Omaha, Nebraska)
The NCAA Tournament, for those unaware, utilizes a very weird, different format. 64 out of a possible 298 teams receive bids, with 31 coming from conference automatic bids and 33 being selected by a committee. Sixteen regionals host four teams apiece in double-elimination format, all on campus sites. The "Sweet Sixteen" is a best-of-three "Super Regional" format, with the final eight teams advancing to two brackets in the College World Series in Omaha.
The College World Series itself is also double-elimination format through two, four-team brackets. The winners of the brackets meet in a best-of-three championship series, with the ultimate winner being named national champion.
It's a little weird because it's very forgiving to losses. A team can win the national championship by losing four games, and the worst possible record a national champion can have is 4-1 through the regional, 2-1 in the Super Regional, 4-1 in the CWS bracket, and 2-1 in the CWS Championship, or 12-4. That means a team with a better overall record (like a team that doesn't lose en route to the CWS Championship) could finish 9-2 and not win the national title.
Yes, it's weird, and yes, there's a ton of baseball that gets played, but it also makes teams earn their way through that much more.
From an ACC perspective, seven teams got in last year, with eight being selected in 2013. Boston College has four College World Series appearances, including three between 1960-1967, but they haven't advanced since that glorious '67 year of Boston baseball. Their only NCAA Tournament appearance since '67 was in 2009, when they played the longest collegiate game ever against Texas but were eliminated after going 1-2 in the Round Rock Regional.