Crunch time for NC baseball teams

Duke's Charlie Beilenson (47) is just one of the players across the state excited about what has been a wild college baseball season. (AP Photo/Ben McKeown)

We are now less than three weeks away from the NCAA selection show. While college basketball may have a trademark on the term “Madness,” this season has seen things go topsy turvy for locals teams as they try to get a spot on the road to the College World Series.

Wake Forest opened the season as the No. 1 team in the nation, following a trip to Omaha last season. However, the Demon Deacons now find themselves trailing at least three other teams in the state. Of course, there’s still plenty of baseball to be played before the brackets are set, and we’ve seen over the last couple months that virtually anything can happen.

Here’s a look at where NCAA hopefuls in the state stand, and what work remains to be done.


The Tar Heels lead the ACC Coastal Division with a 17-7 record and are 31-11 on the year. UNC swept Wake Forest, and the consensus among bracket projections is that UNC will receive a high national seed and host a regional. D1 has the Tar Heels as a No. 6 national seed. Baseball America projects No. 4, while College Sports Madness has them at 7.

There are some questions surrounding the team, however. Including the sweep of Wake (now 12-12), last weekend’s series against 13-11 Virginia Tech was the only ACC opponent with a winning conference record that UNC has beaten in a series. The Heels lost two of three to Miami, NC State and Virginia. Also, while the Heels are 28-2 at home, their road record is a shaky 7-7, and they’ve lost both neutral-site games. A three-game set at Duke to close the ACC regular season could be a chance to make a statement.

East Carolina:

The Pirates are either an 8 or 9 national seed according to consensus and should host a regional. ECU has taken two of three from UNC and won two over NC State. Next on the docket is the chance to add to the resume with a game against Duke.

ECU has a three-game lead over the rest of the AAC and have won seven straight series. The Pirates also had a 10-game winning streak snapped last week. So the team seems to be peaking at the right time. The Pirates have series against Tulane and Rice left, both of whom have losing records in conference.


The Blue Devils have some work to do to lock down a hosting gig. As of the start of the week, D1 and Baseball America had Duke hosting, with 13 and 15 national seeds, respectively. College Sports Madness had them headed to South Carolina.

The Blue Devils are tied for second in the Coastal but are three games behind the Tar Heels. They’ll have a chance to make up ground when they host UNC to close the ACC slate. They also have a road game at ECU this week. So they’ll have plenty of opportunities to impress the committee, but they also have potential pitfalls for their quest to host.

Wake Forest:

The Demon Deacons have been haunted by midweek games, suffering losses to UNC-G, UNC-W, Coastal Carolina and Elon. The weekends haven’t been much better as Wake sits at 12-12 in ACC play.

The former top-ranked team is facing a daunting trip for the NCAAs if the consensus holds. Late April projections had Wake hosting with a low (14-15) national seed, but z series loss at Notre Dame to close the month seems to have taken that off the table for now. D1 has the Deacs headed to Greenville, while Baseball America has them going to South Carolina’s Columbia regional.

With Atlantic Division leader Clemson still on the schedule, as well as NC State, Wake can still move—in either direction—before the ACC Tourney.

NC State:

The Wolfpack appears likely to be the No. 2 seeded team in someone else’s regional. Projections have State headed to Lexington, Ky., Knoxville, Tn. or Greenville. With a 5-11 road record, starting a tournament run in someone else’s stadium seems like a troubling situation.

The Pack still has a trip to UVA and hosts Wake Forest. So things could be looking very different in a few weeks.


The Seahawks are 32-16 and have won five straight entering the week. They’ve beaten Wake Forest and took a pair from NC State, and they have winning records on the road and in neutral site games.

Surprisingly, D1 still has UNCW as one of its first four out, but the other mocks have the Seahawks in the field, headed to either Charlottesville or Chapel Hill.

UNCW still has a home game against UNC and CAA series against Hofstra and Delaware remaining on its schedule as the Seahawks look to remove all doubt about their worthiness of getting a bid.