GREENSBORO — By winning 12 of its final 17 games, finishing runner-up to the ACC tournament title and pushing its RPI into the top 50, N.C. State’s baseball team likely has played its way into an NCAA at-large bid.
“They’ve definitely proved they are deserving,’’ Aaron Fitt, national college baseball analyst for Baseball America, said after the Wolfpack lost to FSU 8-3 at NewBridge Bank Park on Sunday.
But the question now is, how many other ACC teams will join the Wolfpack when the 64-team field is announced Monday?
Although the league's coaches would like to see nine teams get in, Fitt – and even Seminoles coach Mike Martin – said it’s more likely the ACC will only earn eight. That would be the most in conference history, but could leave out a team that made the eight-squad tournament (30-28 Boston College) in favor of one that didn’t (36-20 North Carolina, which finished tied with the Eagles in league standings, but lost the tiebreaker).
“North Carolina is on the bubble, because let’s face it: a team that has missed the ACC tournament has never been to a regional,’’ Fitt said. “But the Tar Heels have an incredibly high RPI [20 on the NCAA’s list, as of last Tuesday], finished strong [winning 12 of its final 15 games]… and the [selection] committee has shown it’s not afraid to choose teams that have missed their conference tournament.”
Plus, the Eagles didn’t help their case by losing eight of their last 11 games, including two in the ACC tournament.
Fitt said he thinks the Wolfpack has played its way above Boston College and UNC in the league’s bid order, joining Georgia Tech, Virginia, Miami, Clemson, FSU and Virginia Tech as the ACC teams that will get in.
Still, how many more league teams deserve to make the NCAA field is a hard question, Wolfpack coach Elliott Avent said, because of the potential ramifications. And it's a subject that has been discussed throughout the conference tournament.
“Let me speak for all coaches in the ACC,’’ Avent said. “. … Nobody feels like they should get left out if they made this tournament. Otherwise, what’s the importance of [making] the [ACC] tournament, know what I’m saying? So we either get nine in or eight in, and we hope we get nine.
“We feel like we deserve nine because the ninth team, which is North Carolina, is playing very, very well at the end; they put some things together. And we feel like they deserve to get in. But if they get in over a team that was in the [ACC] tournament, then all the coaches are going to look at this tournament and say, ‘Why have a tournament?’ I can tell you that.”