Virginia baseball coach Brian O'Connor won the Cavaliers' first ACC baseball championship since 1996 on Sunday. But even before the Cavaliers had beaten Florida State 6-3 in the title game by scoring three runs in the top of the ninth at Durham Bulls Athletic Park, the NCAA had released the list of 16 regional tournament hosts.
No regional in Charlottesville, the NCAA announced about halfway through the ACC title game. No problem, O'Connor said.
"You're disappointed because our league was the most competitive throughout that it's been in my time here," said O'Connor, whose team is 43-12-1 and finished 16-11-1 in the regular season in the ACC. "The team that won the league [Florida State]. Usually, somebody has got 23 or 24. The difference between being in sixth place [where Virginia finished] or second place was a game or two. We unfortunately were a game or two short.
"But I will say this, because you never know, maybe this is the best thing for this team. I feel like this team has had to prove something all year long. Maybe going on the road to win a regional is something that will be really, really positive for this team. We have no other way to take it other than that. ... Our team will handle it just fine no matter where we go."
The Cavaliers, with an RPI of No. 9 before winning the ACC title, could be a No. 1 seed on the road in a regional.
"Obviously, we should be deserving of a No. 1 seed," O'Connor said. "We are [43-12-1] and just went 4-0 in the ACC tournament. [But] I don't know where the committe is feeling where we rank."
Virginia got a monkey off its back with the ACC title.
"This is our third ACC title game in the last six years," O'Connor said. "I think ... our players knew that if we continued to knock on the door and put ourselves in position to win a title ... that sooner or later, you are going to figure out a way to kick that door in. That's what we did today.
"This was a big one for us because we haven't won a title. That has probably been the knock on us for five or six years, that we haven't won a conference championship, haven't won a regional championship. Now, we have proven -- most importantly to ourselves to ourselves -- what we are capable of doing in this program."
Despite not hosting a regional, O'Connor was excited about the the momentum gained in Durham.
"The positive momentum we can take from the way we played this tournament and the way that we battled can carry over to next weekend, no matter where it is," he said. "This was a huge hurdle for us to get over to win this title, and now these players have proven to each other what they can do at championship time."
They played in front of a pro-UNC crowd of more than 6,000 on Friday night and stunned North Carolina and the Tar Heels' ace Alex White with 10 runs in the third inning en route to an 11-1 victory and won four games in four days at Durham Bulls Athletic Park, three of them against regional hosts. The Cavaliers are battle-tested.
"We were the visiting team three of four games in this tournament," O'Connor said. "I don't think there will be any atmosphere that this club will be in awe of.
"There is one thing this club should not lack right now and that is confidence. To do what we did to Alex White, who is one of the best pitchers in the country, in that environment where everything is on the line, this team grows from that. ... Even though we have a lot of young players who haven't been through [an NCAA regional], this experience here this weekend will prepare them to have success next weekend."
For the Cavaliers, it's just more of the same -- tough games on the road. Just like the ACC regular season and just like the ACC tournament title run.