After a soggy Saturday loss to eventual ACC Champion Clemson, the UNC Baseball team headed back to Chapel Hill to await their fate on Memorial Day. D1 Baseball had been projecting them as a two seed in the regional round all weekend; it was just a question of where the Tar Heels would travel as their microscopic hope of hosting ended with that loss to the Tigers.
It took to nearly the end, but eventually the Tar Heels found out their destination: Terre Haute, Indiana.
Somewhat surprisingly, the Tar Heels ended up being a three seed instead of a two. While it was arguably one of the bigger surprises of the field, there was never a question asked of the baseball tournament chairman during his availability on ESPN2 after the brackets were announced.
The Tar Heels will face off against two seed Iowa, where the winner faces off against the winner of one seed Indiana State and four seed Wright State. As a reminder, the format for the regional round is double-elimination. Thus, the two winners play each other and the two losers play each other, with the loser of the latter game being eliminated. The winner of the latter game faces the loser of the former, and that loser is eliminated. Finally, the winner of that game will match up against the 2-0 team. The first team to two losses is out and the other is the regional champ.
The NCAA Tournament works with a bracket setup, meaning the winner of this regional is locked into facing off against the winner of the Fayetteville, AR regional. That region consists of one seed Arkansas, two seed TCU, three seed Arizona, and four seed Santa Clara. This is where Carolina being listed as a three seed hurts, as the Tar Heels would likely need Santa Clara to come out of that regional in order to host the Super Regional. Thus it looks like the last baseball has been played at Boshamer this season.
Overall in the NCAA Tournament, the ACC managed to get eight teams in, second only to the SEC with their ten. Three ACC teams-overall one seed Wake, Clemson, and Virginia-made the cut as a top eight seed and are guaranteed a Super Regional if they advance. One other-Miami-will host the first round as the ninth overall seed. The other four-UNC, NC State, Duke, and Boston College-will be traveling around the country hoping to pull off some upsets to end up in Omaha.
A little later in the day, game times were announced:
So the good news for Carolina fans is that they will get to watch the Tar Heels start their journey to Omaha without an ESPN+ subscription. Networks for the other games will be announced once the results happen and matchups are determined. Unlike some previous seasons, every regional will begin play on Friday and conclude by Monday depending on how everything plays out.
Some bad news for Carolina fans, though: Vance Honeycutt, the ACC Defensive Player of the Year, is out again for the entirety of the NCAA Regionals in Terre Haute. He’s missed the last seven games for the Tar Heels, including an effective four game sweep at the hands of Clemson, and both his bat and defense have been sorely missing in the lineup. Coach Scott Forbes has clarified the injury, changing it from lower body to lower back. The hope is that if Carolina makes it past this round he can come back for the Super Regional.
We’ll have a preview a little later in the week of all the teams in the regional as we lead up to the 7 PM first pitch against Iowa on Friday.