The ACC baseball tournament won’t just have a new venue for 2017. It will also have a new format. The conference announced Thursday that the field for the annual event, to be played on May 23-28 in Louisville, Ky., will increase from 10 to 12 teams and will include a new pool play format leading into a four-team, single-elimination bracket to determine the league championship. The tournament was originally scheduled for the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, but was moved out of North Carolina in reaction to the state’s controversial House Bill 2. “ACC Baseball has never been stronger and the number of nationally prominent teams is remarkable,” commissioner John Swofford said in a statement announcing the changes. “Expanding the format to include additional teams is in the best interest of our players, programs and conference.” Under the new format, the two division winners will automatically become the top two seeds. The rest of the field will be seeded based on conference winning percentage regardless of their division. The 12 teams will be grouped into four pools of three teams, each of which will be guaranteed a minimum of two games round robin competition. The top team in each pool will advance into Saturday’s semifinals with the championship game scheduled for Sunday. All teams will have at least one day off during the course of the tournament. Under the old format, two pools of four teams played a round robin schedule of three games apiece, with the top team in each group playing for the title. The top six teams during the regular season were automatically seeded into the bracket while the next four were forced to meet in a pair of one-game, play-in contests to earn spots in the regular field. The new format was originally proposed by the league’s head coaches and was approved this week at the ACC’s October meetings. “The goal of the baseball committee, our head coaches, and the ACC is to provide as many student-athletes as possible with a championship experience,” said Boston College coach Matt Conway, a member of the ACC baseball committee. “The expansion to 12 teams and the adjusted pool play format guarantees all 12 teams at least two games achieves that goal, while still protecting the value of the regular season.
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