North Carolina and Duke are home this weekend for ACC series as the conference season heads down the stretch.
North Carolina, ranked No. 1 in two national polls, hosts Maryland in the Tar Heels' final home conference series of the season. Duke, looking to hold onto the eighth spot in the league standings and final slot for the ACC Tournament, is home against Boston College in a pivotal matchup.
Maryland (20-21, 6-15 ACC) at UNC (32-11, 13-7):
Probable starters: Today, 7 p.m., Maryland junior right-hander Scott Swinson (3-5, 5.20) vs. UNC junior right-hander Alex White (6-1, 3.14); Saturday, 6 p.m., Maryland freshman left-hander Matt Fullerton (5-3, 5.77) vs. UNC senior right-hander Adam Warren (4-2, 3.33); Sunday, 1 p.m., Maryland sophomore right-hander Brett Harman (3-4, 6.36) vs. UNC sophomore right-hander Matt Harvey (5-1, 5.86).
Offensive leaders: Maryland -- A.J. Casario (.335, 8 HRs, 34 RBIs), Mike Murphy (.324, 9 HRs, 35 RBIs), David Poutier (.317, 2 HRs, 19 RBIs), Dan Benick (.270, 3 HRs, 23 RBIs); North Carolina -- Kyle Seager (.402, 2 HRs, 37 RBIs), Dustin Ackley (.392, 12 HRs, 37 RBIs), Ben Bunting (.328, 2 HRs, 28 RBIs), Mark Fleury (.327, 8 HRs, 44 RBIs), Levi Michael (.294, 10 HRs, 38 RBIs).
Outlook: The Tar Heels swept then-No. 7 Miami last weekend at home to climb to the top of the polls. They are coming off a loss at East Carolina on Wednesday and are likely to take out some frustration on the Terps. The Heels' starting rotation is outstanding, with Alex White coming off a 1-hitter against Miami and Adam Warren back on track after a couple of hard-luck losses. The Tar Heels' bats, silenced by ECU's Kevin Brandt on Wednesday in a 4-0 loss, should bust loose against the Terps' pitching. Maryland, which has pulled off some surprising wins at home, will be hard-pressed to avoid a sweep at Boshamer.
Notes: UNC's three seniors -- Garrett Gore, Mike McKee and Adam Warren -- will be honored before Sunday's series finale. This year's senior class has acounted for 197 wins over the past four seasons, second to the school record of 206 set by last year's senior class. With 12 regular-season games left (including ACC series at N.C. State and Boston College), the ACC Tournament and NCAA play, this year's seniors are almost certain to be the winningest class in UNC history by season's end.
BC (25-15, 10-9 ACC) at Duke (27-16, 10-11):
Probable starters: Today, 7 p.m., BC senior right-hander JB MacDonald (4-4, 3.02 ERA) vs. Duke right-hander Christopher Manno (3-4, 4.99); Saturday, 2 p.m., BC sophomore right-hander John Leonard (1-1, 7.20) vs. Duke senior right-hander Andrew Wolcott (5-3, 2.48); Sunday, 1 p.m., BC sophomore left-hander Pat Dean (4-3, 3.54) vs. a pitcher to be determined for Duke.
Offensive leaders: Boston College -- Robbie Anston (.385, 1 HR, 20 RBIs), Tony Sanchez (.355, 12 HRs, 37 RBIs), Andrew Lawrence (.339, 2 HRs, 11 RBIs), Mickey Wiswall (.331, 10 HRs, 46 RBIs), Barry Butera (.320, 4 HRs, 29 RBIs), Mike Belfiore (.315, 10 HRs, 49 RBIs); Duke -- Alex Hassan (.370, 2 HRs, 21 RBIs), Nate Freiman (.359, 12 HRs, 29 RBIs), Jeremy Gould (.349, 5 HRs, 33 RBIs), Matt Williams (.331, 2 HRs, 35 RBIs), Will Piwnica-Worms (.312, 1 HR, 24 RBIs).
Outlook: Duke is in fifth place in the league's Coastal Divsion, a half-game ahead of Virginia Tech. With its final two ACC series at Virginia and at home against Georgia Tech, this looms as a must-win series for the Devils in their quest to make the eight-team ACC Tournament -- which takes the top two teams in each division and the four other teams with the best ACC records. Right now, Duke is in the eighth slot for the league tournament. Boston College is in third place in the Atlantic Division, which will get only three teams in the league tournament in all probability. N.C. State is in fourth place in the divison at 7-14.
This should be a hard-fought series. BC has been surprisingly strong and Tony Sanchez has been a one-man wrecking crew for the Eagles. Duke, meanwhile, counters with the league's top defense (Boston College is second to the Devils in fielding percentage), solid pitching and an experienced lineup.