ACC Tournament Play-in Game: #7 UNC vs #10 NC State, 11 AM, RSN/ESPN3
A tradition unlike any other. The good news is should UNC and NC State do what they normally do in the ACC Tournament it will still be daylight when the game finishes. Georgia Tech and Wake Forest won't be happy but the media covering the game will be ecstatic.
UNC will send All-ACC First Team pitcher Reilly Hovis to the mound in what is essentially a high stakes mid-week game. Trent Thornton, who pitched on Friday versus Miami, is likely available out of the bullpen should the Heels need him. All of Hovis' appearances this season have been out of the bullpen. After the injury to Chris McCue, Hovis settled in as the closer saving six game and going 7-1. He is the best available pitcher and if he can get 5-6 innings in then it might be enough for the bullpen to finish the deal.
On the other side, the consensus is Wolfpack ace Carlos Rodon will pitch at some point in the game. NC State coach Elliot Avent has said Eric Petersen will likely start for the Wolfpack. However no one is really going to believe that Rodon won't start until NC State actually takes the field in the bottom of the first inning and he's not out there. This was the case last season in the second College World Series game between these two teams. Avent named one starter only to make a last minute switch and pitch Rodon on three days rest. The situation is similar with Rodon having thrown over 100 pitches on Friday.
Another similarity with the CWS game last season is this is an elimination game. The loser is done in Greensboro and possibly done for the season. A loss certainly puts either team in a less than ideal position for the NCAA Tournament. While UNC can probably still get a bid even with a loss, the general consensus is NC State needs a win here and a couple in pool play to sneak into the field of sixty-four.