The Cardinals have been the top team in the ACC for much of the season and have ridden that to being one of the top ranked teams in the nation. The Cardinals placed five players on the All-ACC first team while Carolina did not place any. this is a game where the Heels will need to play according to their preseason expectations and not their recent performance.
Carolina has not yet named a starter for the game but no matter who it is, he will have to contend with a vicious Cardinal lineup. Four Cardinals hit above .315 but as a team they only hit .275 so if the Carolina starter can survive the top of their order, there are easy outs to come. The Cardinals do not hit for a lot of power, averaging just about one home run every two games so if Carolina plays good defense behind their pitching the score should stay low, an advantage for the Heels. The player to watch against the Heels is Corey Ray, Ray led the Cards with a .329 batting average and he hit 11 of the team's 29 home runs. If the Heels can contain Ray then they have accomplished step one of the upset.
Step two figures to be much harder, Carolina will need to score runs--likely five or six--to win the game. Carolina will need to beat a very good Louisville staff which placed all three of its main starters on the all ACC first or second team. The Cardinals do not even plan to use one of those arms to start, rather giving the ball to Sean Leland, who boasts a 1.11 ERA in 40.2 IP this year. Carolina will need to score against Leland early as the Cardinal bullpen only gets scarier as the game goes on. The closer, Zack Burdi was the all-ACC first team's sole relief pitcher and he boasts a 0.78 ERA and a spotless 5-0 record and allowed only 11 hits all season.
Carolina has its work cut out for it and this game could see Coach Fox make an interesting strategic choice. Fox could opt to start Benton Moss and try to win the game for a resume boost that would almost certainly put Carolina firmly in the NCAA field or he could go the other way and start a non-traditional starter like Trent Thornton and be less aggressive and go after Florida State and Clemson with Moss and J.B. Bukauskas to try to improve the team's showing in Durham.
(10:50 AM) Carolina announced it will be Benton Moss on the mound for the Heels.