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ACC Tournament Preview

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What can we expect from the Diamond Heels in Greensboro this week.

First up, here is UNC's schedule for the week which has the Heels playing today, Thursday and Saturday in pool play. All games will be on Fox Sports South or ESPN3.

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As previously announced UNC will go with Shane Taylor versus Wake Forest then Kent Emanuel against Miami and either Benton Moss or Hobbs Johnson in the pool play finale against NC State. Since UNC has faced all three opponents this season here is how the starting rotation stacked up against the UNC's pool play opponents.

[table id=235 /]

Emanuel had a rough outing in Coral Gables against Miami. Then again the whole team appeared to have a rough outing that whole weekend. In fact Miami has been a bit of a bugaboo for the Heels in the past two seasons going 1-6 against the Hurricanes including a 7-5 loss in the 2011 ACC Tournament. Johnson and Moss pitched fairly well against NC State in one game against the Pack and Shane Taylor only saw limited action against Wake Forest. On the offensive side, here is how some of the key batters in UNC's lineup matched up.

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One name conspicuously absent from the above table is Colin Moran who was injured for all but one of the nine games against UNC's pool play opponents. Moran played in the series opener against NC State and went 1-4. He also committed an error in that game which apparently provoke him to punch hard, inanimate objects and break a bone in his hands. He did not play the rest of that series nor was he available when the Heels faced Wake Forest and Miami. UNC was 4-5 in those games but won two of the three series. Overall the offense was non-existent against Miami and "good enough" versus Wake Forest and NC State. The question is how much impact will Moran being back against these three teams will have. Since his return in early May, Moran is batting .375 with a home run and 9 RBIs. He has hit safely in all but one game since coming back and registered six multi-hit games in a span of 12 contests.

The big consideration for UNC in the ACC Tournament is how it affects the Heels' standing for a national seed. Baseball America, in its latest "stock report" tabbed UNC as a lock for a national seed. In all likelihood UNC will end up in the 6-8 range which means the Heels cannot to go 1-2 or 0-3 in pool play. A win over Wake Forest is a must and grabbing a victory over either Miami or NC State would probably be enough to keep UNC in the national seed discussion. Not that winning the ACC Tournament is not important but when you end up using three good starters to simply get to the title game, anything after that is a gravy. No one is going to spend a good pitcher with the NCAA Tournament starting a week later. For the purpose of being ready for regional play UNC's focus should be on winning this "series" of three games and let the chips fall were they may.