The ACC released its preseason coaches poll on Tuesday, with the Boston College Eagles tabbed as the seventh, last place team in the Atlantic Division. By a wide margin, the Eagles, with 17 votes, trailed Wake Forest, picked to finish sixth with 35 votes.
There's no reason to pick for the Eagles. After all, BC finished last season in last place in the Atlantic Division, the seventh place team with a 10-19 conference record. It was the third time in four seasons the Eagles finished last in their division, a team that's yet to finish higher than second to last.
To the rest of the ACC, BC is an outlier. They're a northern, New England team playing amongst baseball factories. In the Atlantic Division alone, there are four nationally ranked teams. There's a fifth team in Notre Dame that went on a huge run last season to finish second in the division. Five teams in the Atlantic alone went to the NCAA Tournament.
But the thing is that preseason polls have a way of being totally wrong. Take last year for instance. Notre Dame was picked sixth in the Atlantic Division because, quite honestly, that's where they finished the year before.
The good news for the Eagles is that they likely only have to climb two spots in their division in order to become a contender for the national tournament. If they're able to complete a five game swing in their record, they'll go from 27-27 overall and 10-19 in conference to 32-22 overall, 15-14 in conference. That puts them right alongside NC State's conference record and Clemson's overall record from last year qualifying the Wolfpack and Tigers for the ACC Tournament.
The bad news is that the climb is incredibly challenging. Last year's BC team was a national bubble team until the season's closing weeks. People saw the Eagles as a contender to jump into the ACC Tournament and, potentially, into an NCAA regional. Then they had a couple of bad weekends, going from the inside looking out to the outside looking in. Once on the outer fringe, they simply couldn't claw back in because of how tough the ACC is.
Other thoughts on the preseason poll:
- Maryland leaving for the Big Ten and Louisville joining the league probably impacted baseball just as much as basketball. In the Cardinals, the ACC got one of the best programs in nation, a team that went to the College World Series for the two years prior to when they joined the conference. In last year's maiden voyage, they won the Atlantic Division and advanced to the Super Regionals. They're the unanimous choice to win the league this year. It's great for the ACC on the whole to be that elite, but it occupies a slot BC is unlikely to reach anytime soon.
- Wake Forest is living proof, like BC a year ago, that a full-fledged team is probably going to fare better than having the league's best player. Will Craig is a right-handed power bat, arguably the best hitter in the ACC. But the Deacs were awful on the hill last year, with a team ERA of 5.73. They had exactly two pitchers with ERAs under 4.00, including one starter in Matt Pirro. They couldn't develop that second arm, which is a warning to teams with one legitimate starter that they need to find a second body capable of holding teams at bay.
- I think people are underselling Pittsburgh just a little bit, but like Boston College, there's a league bias naturally occurring against northern teams not named Notre Dame. Pitt went 42-17 (18-6) in their final year in the Big East. In shifting to the ACC, they fell off by 20 wins, going 22-30 and 20-32 over the past two seasons while finishing sixth and seventh in the Coastal Division. But Joe Jordano is capable of building a winner, and Pitt has a beautiful home stadium from which to work with. Until they win more frequently, northern baseball teams will never get the recognition they sometimes deserve, but the Coastal Division is frequently wide open in ACC play.