Atlantic Coast Conference poised to end dry spell in College World Series

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DURHAM, N.C. — This might be the Atlantic Coast Conference’s best chance to finally end its long title drought at the College World Series.

North Carolina enters the ACC Tournament led by Colin Moran, who leads the team in average, runs, RBI and home runs.   FILE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
FILE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
North Carolina enters the ACC Tournament led by Colin Moran, who leads the team in average, runs, RBI and home runs.

The league hasn’t produced a national champion since Wake Forest in 1955.

This season four ACC teams came to Durham for the league tournament that begins today with legitimate shots at one of the top-eight national seeds in next week’s NCAA Tournament.

All eight teams here are in the top 22 of the latest NCAA-released RPI. No other conference has more than five.

North Carolina State coach Elliott Avent calls the ACC Tournament “Omaha East.” And veteran Florida State coach Mike Martin said Tuesday that all eight teams have the talent to make it to the College World Series.

The ACC hasn’t had much trouble sending teams to Omaha – but in each of the past 57 years, they’ve all come home empty handed.

Since the Demon Deacons won the league’s only national championship, 40 teams have represented the ACC in the College World Series but have combined for what is by far the longest title drought among the Division I power conferences.

“The irony of no team doing it in all those years is kind of odd,” Avent said, “but hopefully, this will be the year.”

A few ACC teams have come close: North Carolina was the runner-up in both 2006 and 2007, and Florida State and Georgia Tech also lost in the finals in the past 20 years.

The ACC seems to have a few candidates that could finally bring an end to all those questions about 1955.

North Carolina (48-8) spent all but the last week of the season ranked No. 1 in Baseball America’s Top 25 and is No. 2 in the RPI – one spot ahead of Virginia (45-9), which is ranked fifth in the Baseball America poll.

Florida State (44-12) is No. 5 in the RPI and N.C. State is ninth, giving the league four strong candidates for national seeds when the NCAA’s bracket is announced Monday.

Clemson (12 in the RPI), Virginia Tech (15), Miami (20) and Georgia Tech (22) also are safe bets to make the double-elimination field of 64.

“I think what you have, in all honesty, is eight teams that very well every team has the ability to get to Omaha,” Martin said. “And you’re putting them all in one site, four on one side, four on the other. If I’m a baseball fan, which I am, I’m going to watch all of these games.”

WEDNESDAY’S GAMES

Wednesday-Sunday

at Durham Bulls Athletic Park, Durham, N.C.

• No. 7 Georgia Tech vs. No. 2 Florida State, 11 a.m.

• No. 6 Virginia Tech vs. No. 3 Virginia, 3 p.m.

• No. 5 Clemson vs. No. 4 North Carolina State, 7


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