North Carolina baseball will open the NCAA Tournament against Iowa later this week, as part of the four-team regional that’s topped by host Indiana State and also includes Wright State.
On Monday, Tar Heels coach Scott Forbes and the team learned their NCAA assignment by watching the tournament selection show at Boshamer Stadium together as the 64-team field was revealed. It will be UNC’s 35th postseason appearance overall and sixth in a row in NCAA baseball. The Tar Heels have participated in 20 of the last 23 tournaments.
The Tar Heels (35-22) will play second-seeded Iowa (42-14) at 7 p.m. on Friday at Bob Warn Field in Terre Haute, Indiana, in a double-elimination format. The Tar Heels received the third seed for the regional, which was not what most college baseball analysts had anticipated. After finishing third in the Big Ten during regular season play and losing to Maryland on Sunday in the Big Ten Tournament championship game, the Hawkeyes were awarded an at-large spot in the NCAA tournament. Iowa’s 42 successes are the second-most in program history.
“I don’t think there’s any difference much between two and three, to be honest with you,” according to report Monday of the seeding decisions within the regionals. “You look at the the tournament, I mean, there are a ton of really good fours. This is a tough NCAA Tournament. And I think it’s only going to get tougher in years to come with the transfer portal and things like that. So I don’t think there’s a big difference between two and three.”
Monday saw UNC start at No. 27 in the RPI rankings and to a great extent projected to land in the two-seed range, however Baseball America had UNC evaluated as a three seed. Indiana State (42-15), the Missouri Valley Meeting normal season and competition champion, got one of the 16 public seeds in the NCAA Competition, which continues along a way that prompts Omaha, Neb. what’s more, the School Worldwide championship. Wright State (39-21) of the Skyline Association is the fourth seed in the Terre Haute Local. Indiana State and Wright State, coming off a 24-3 regular season run in the Missouri Valley, will meet at 1 p.m. Friday to open the regional, followed by UNC and Iowa.
ACC confidant Wake Woodland procured the No. 1st-place finisher in the NCAA Tournament. No. Florida, the No. 2 seed overall, No. 3: Arkansas 4 Clemson, No. 5 LSU, No. No. 6 Vanderbilt 7 Virginia, No. No. 8 Stanford Miami, No. 9, No. 10 Coastal Carolina No. 11 Oklahoma State 12 Kentucky, No. No. 13 Auburn No. 14 Indiana State 15 South Carolina as well as 16 Alabama was the national seed that came after the Demon Deacons.
Regional hosts Wake Forest, Clemson, Virginia, and Miami, as well as Boston College, Duke, UNC, and NC State, were among the eight ACC teams that received NCAA bids. The winner of the Tar Heels’ regional against Indiana State advances to the super regionals, where they face the winner of the four-team regional against Arkansas, where the No. TCU, Arizona, and Santa Clara will play host to the third-ranked Razorbacks.
During the buildup to the tournament selection show on Monday, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, and Coastal Carolina were generally projected as potential NCAA regional destinations for UNC. LSU, Auburn, and Kentucky were also included in the bracketology mix as varying possibilities. It didn’t seem like the most likely outcome when the Tar Heels were mentioned in the Indiana State regional alongside teams like the Sycamores, Iowa, and Wright State.
“I think it’s definitely exciting,” UNC slugger Mac Horvath said Monday. “You don’t always want to play the same teams all the time. And I think it can be good or bad, just being not familiar with the teams. But that means the other teams aren’t familiar with you, either. So I think it goes both ways, but I think it’s exciting. My mom graduated from Iowa, so make sure she has no Hawkeye gear on when we play them.”
UNC is coming off a 2-1 ACC Tournament victory. The Tar Heels advanced to the ACC semifinals for the third time in the last four conference tournaments after winning their pool at Durham Bulls Athletic Park and defeating Georgia Tech and Virginia in pool play. Clemson, the eventual ACC champion, defeated them there on Saturday.
Forbes viewed it as a rebound effort for his UNC team, which had finished the regular season with four losses in a row, including a three-game sweep by hot Clemson. UNC entered the ACC Tournament with that record.
“For our guys to regroup and to make a run in this tournament, it’s a tough group,” Forbes said Saturday, after his team’s semifinal loss to the Tigers. “It’s a resilient group. And it’s a group that I believe in and I believe they can make some big-time noise in the NCAA Tournament.
“So for me, I’ve just learned to step back and stay out of the way and try to make the right decisions, especially on the mound. I feel like our lineup is pretty set for the most part at this point going into the postseason, and keeping these guys believing and keeping them loose and letting them play.”
According to report, on Saturday and said it again on Monday that UNC pitchers Max Carlson (4-2, 5.97 ERA) and Jake Knapp (5-3, 4.79 ERA) will start the first two NCAA Tournament games. Forbes, however, hasn’t determined the request in which Carolina will utilize those right-handers in the territorial.
“We’ll look really hard at Iowa first and see who we think the best matchup is against them, either Carlson or Knapp, and make that decision,” Forbes said Monday. “And then we’ll start getting ready for the other teams that we could play.”
Vance Honeycutt, the Tar Heels’ star outfielder, is still out with a lower-back injury. Forbes said on Monday that Honeycutt won’t play this weekend against Indiana State in the regional, which raises questions about the remainder of the season. Honeycutt, the ACC Defensive Player of the Year who is an elite weapon because of his speed and power, has been out of UNC’s last seven games.
This year, UNC will face a different set of challenges at the NCAA tournament than they did last year. The Tar Heels won the ACC Tournament in 2022 after a hot finish to the regular season, earning them the No. 1 ranking. 10 public seed for the NCAA Competition. In June, Carolina came back to win its exciting four-team, double-elimination Chapel Hill Regional. It then hosted Arkansas in the best-of-3 super regional round before losing to the visiting Razorbacks twice.
- ‘The Masked Singer’ Releases the Rubber Ducky’s Identity: See the Star Hidden in the Mask - September 28, 2023
- How to plan a vacation with ChatGPT - September 28, 2023
- Ronald Acua Jr. is the first player in MLB history to record a 40/70 season - September 28, 2023