June 1, 2010
CHARLOTTESVILLE — Even before it took the field Saturday afternoon in Greensboro, N.C., UVa’s baseball team knew it would not repeat as ACC tournament champion.
Under the format adopted by the ACC several years ago, the eight teams that qualify for the conference tournament are split into two divisions of four. The teams in each division play a round-robin, and then the division winners meet in the ACC title game.
If a team goes 3-0 in pool play, as the Cavaliers did in 2009, there’s no mystery about which team advances to the championship game. If two or more teams finish with the same record, a tiebreaker is required.
If there’s a two-way tie, as there was this year after UVa and Florida State each went 2-1 in pool play, their head-to-head result in the tournament determines which advances to the championship game.
The Cavaliers opened the tourney Wednesday by beating Boston College. The next day, however, FSU defeated UVa. And when the Seminoles, who’d lost to Miami on Wednesday, beat BC on Friday, they were assured the tiebreaker if UVa defeated Miami on Saturday, which is what happened.
Some fans would like to see the ACC tournament go back to a double-elimination format, but UVa coach Brian O’Connor isn’t calling for a change.
Since the conference adopted the current format, which isn’t nearly as grueling for pitchers, nearly a dozen ACC teams have advanced to the College World Series, O’Connor noted.
“That’s a big part of the reason why we switched to this,” he said, “so that teams wouldn’t be fried and burned out after a conference tournament. They’d be prepared for the [opening weekend of the NCAA tournament], which is really the most important weekend.
“I like it, even though we went 2-1 and didn’t have a chance to play for the ACC title. We did have a chance. We had a chance to beat Florida State, and we didn’t beat them. You gotta take care of your own business. Otherwise, you don’t have a chance to play for it. It’s got its real positives, but the negative obviously is how you feel if you haven’t been beaten twice and you’re done.”
The Wahoos returned home Saturday evening. Florida State beat N.C. State in the championship game Sunday in Greensboro.
“I would have liked to have had another crack at it, but unfortunately it didn’t work out,” O’Connor said. “But we won two out of three down there. We just didn’t beat the right team. That’s what it came down to.”
Virginia (47-11) is the No. 5 seed in the 64-team NCAA tournament, which starts Friday. UVa opens the tourney at 4 p.m. against VCU at Davenport Field.