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Heels To Face NC State in ACC Tournament Play-in Game

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USA TODAY Sports

UNC finished up the regular season on Saturday, falling to Miami 2-0 and losing the series to finish 32-23 overall and 15-15 in the ACC. The .500 record in conference play leaves the Heels in seventh place and seeded in that slot for the ACC Tournament. UNC will now face the #10 seed NC State in an ACC Tournament play-in game on Tuesday at 11 AM.

Entering the weekend, UNC had an opportunity to finish in the top six and avoid a Tuesday play-in game. The Heels jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first game of a doubleheader against Miami on Friday before surrendering the lead and ending up in a 4-4 tie after nine innings. The game would continue until the 16th inning when the Tar Heels grab a 5-4 lead on an RBI single form Parks Jordan. The lead wouldn't stand up and the Heels lost 6-5 after the home team Hurricanes scored two in the bottom of the frame.

UNC vented the frustrations of the gut-wrenching loss in game two with an 11-2 drubbing of the soon-to-be ACC Regular Season Champions. The win put the Heels in a position to climb into the top six in the conference standings. All the Heels needed was a win to take the series and finish 16-14 or Boston College win over Clemson.  A loss and a win by Clemson would relegate the Tar Heels the play-in round. Miami took care of the first part taking the rubber match 2-0 despite a solid effort from freshman Zac Gallen. The second part followed shortly thereafter as Boston College blew a 9-2 lead including giving up five runs in the bottom of the ninth to send it to extra innings where the Tigers took a 10-9 win.

Interestingly enough, UNC's seeding was actually the direct result a rained out game. Clemson and Maryland had a game in their series canceled due to weather leaving both teams a game short and 15-14 overall. That puts them a half-game ahead of UNC by virtue of one fewer loss. Had those two played the canceled game, one of them would have lost resulting in a tie with UNC at 15-15 and the Tar Heels owning the tiebreaker versus both teams.

Sometimes it happens that way. UNC had plenty of opportunities to grab an extra win or three. UNC blew big leads against Boston College and Duke while dropping close games versus Pitt, Maryland and Miami. UNC's suspect offense and the loss of closer Chris McCue was just enough to have the Tar Heels teetering too often on the wrong side of close games.

And by a weird twist everyone gets what they missed on April 15th, a game between UNC and NC State. The scheduled match-up between these two was rained out and no make-up was possible. Unlike then when it was an out-of-conference game this contest will have actual stakes. UNC and NC State really need wins to bolster their respective NCAA Tournament resumes. In fact, NC State may not make the tournament unless they win and get into pool play where perhaps they can snag a quality win or two. UNC is on the bubble and could get in even with a loss but since tempting fate with an NCAA Selection Committee is a bad idea.