This is the type of day the ACC commissioner and his pals were probably dreaming about.
The ACC baseball season completes its 2016 campaign this afternoon. By the time we all go to sleep tonight, we'll know which ten teams are booking travel plans for Durham, North Carolina to attend the 2016 ACC Tournament at Durham Bulls Athletic Park. We'll know who is playing against whom, and the storylines will begin to write themselves anew as someone looks to help the league repeat as national champions.
Entering today, we can predict the majority of teams that will make the field, but at the same time, we're still not sure of seeding. We know that Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, and Virginia Tech are mathematically eliminated from the field, and we know that Miami and Louisville clinched their respective division championships. But even though teams may have mathematically ensured themselves of a spot, every seed enters today up for grabs.
There are two doubleheaders on the docket for today, one including Miami and Florida State, the other including Georgia Tech and Boston College. Miami needs at least one win to clinch the ACC regular season championship outright, while FSU needs one win to prevent Virginia from passing them for third place. A Miami sweep coupled with a Virginia win over Virginia Tech would knock the Seminoles into fourth place. That's just one example of how crazy today could shape up.
As for BC, today's game provides a glimpse into that insanity while also making things incredibly clear. Let's start with the home team.
Georgia Tech needs only a single win to clinch a spot in the ACC Tournament. If they sweep BC, they would finish 15-14 in conference play, a record that could potentially vault them as high as fifth. If NC State and Clemson both lose, a Yellow Jacket sweep gives Georgia Tech the fifth seed in the tournament, placing well into pool play and potentially giving them a favorable draw. They would have to play the league's regular season champion in that scenario, but they would likely play a pool against divisional opponents.
One win for Georgia Tech clinches them a spot but opens the door for more possibilities. A GT split would make them 14-15 on the year. That prevents them from placing into pool play but leaves open the door for finishing seventh with a Duke loss. Otherwise, they finish eighth because UNC and Wake, both currently 13-16, still could not catch them.
A sweep loss opens the door for the Yellow Jackets to miss the ACC Tournament altogether. At 13-16, they would fall behind BC (who would finish 13-15). A UNC or Wake Forest win would place either of those teams at 14-16, a half of a game ahead of the Yellow Jackets. That means they would miss the tournament altogether despite 35 wins on the regular season if both win. A sweep loss coupled with a loss by either UNC or Wake Forest, however, puts Georgia Tech in Durham and puts one of those two teams on the outside looking in with 17 league losses.
As for the Eagles, the situation today is incredibly clear. They have to sweep Georgia Tech to get in. BC would need to finish with 13 league wins to get into the dance, so they have to win both ends of the doubleheader.
If the Eagles finish 13-15 in league play, they open the door to finish as high as eighth. A sweep win coupled with UNC and Wake Forest losses puts the Eagles ahead of all three teams, finishing them in eighth place. A sweep win coupled with a win by either UNC or Wake Forest, and BC finishes ninth. A sweep win coupled with wins by both, and BC finishes 10th. A loss in any shape or form, and BC potentially finishes 11th or 12th. BC cannot finish 13th or 14th, however.
The positive in this situation is that there is virtually no pressure on Boston College. It's a long hill to climb, winning both ends of a doubleheader against a team like Georgia Tech, on the road no less. So the Eagles can just go out and play baseball. They're playing meaningful games on the last day of the regular season, something many predicted wouldn't happen at the beginning of the season. If not for a mad dash run by Duke in games where BC didn't even play, they'd be in the tournament right now. So there's no pressure on them to win today, and the reality is that even if they win the first game, there's still a long way to go.
So today boils down to baseball in its simplest, purest form. For some teams, it's go or go home. For others, it's go or go faster. Today is going to be an incredibly long day at the office.