After spending five days in Louisville, Ky., last week to cover two baseball games, I think I have the right to say that last week’s Atlantic Coast Conference Baseball Championship was the worst baseball tournament I have ever covered.
In fact, I would not even call it a tournament in the first place. Whoever came up with the idea that had teams playing two games three days apart was not thinking with their head on straight. I’m trying to be as nice as I can be.
I know Clemson head coach Monte Lee will not use waiting for two days as an excuse on why the Tigers were beat so bad by Virginia in their second game, but having to sit around Louisville for two extra days to play a game that was really just a glorified exhibition was not good for his baseball team.
Two teams, Clemson and NC State, were the only two originally scheduled to play baseball games three days apart. Miami, who did advance to the semifinal round before being eliminated by North Carolina, also had to wait three days in between games, but it was due to rain delays which got the so-called tournament behind by a day.
Like Clemson, sitting around their hotel for two extra days was not good for the Wolfpack either as the Tar Heels drilled them, 12-4, in a game that did mean something. Because of their win over Boston College on Tuesday, the Pack was at least playing for the right to go to the semifinals.
In case you were wondering, North Carolina, the No. 2 seed in the tournament, played its first game on Wednesday, while Virginia, the No. 4 seed, did not play its first game until Thursday. Now you tell me, how does that make any sense?
It doesn’t. And when Virginia lost to Duke on Thursday afternoon, the Clemson vs. Virginia game on Friday meant nothing to the tournament at all. Clemson, by virtue of being the fifth seed and in the same pod as No. 9 Duke and No. 4 Virginia, was eliminated by losing to Duke on Tuesday. Virginia’s loss to Duke eliminated the Cavaliers after just one game as well.
Though the Cavaliers had not played a game, Clemson was eliminated on Tuesday night because if Virginia had beat Duke and Clemson then turned around and beat Virginia, then all three teams would have been 1-1 and the tiebreaker would have gone to Virginia due to the fact it was the higher seed.
No one can say the Clemson vs. Virginia game meant something. As it turned out it did not even have an effect on the NCAA Tournament. Many, including myself, figured the Clemson vs. Virginia game at least would decide who deserved to host a regional. So when the Cavaliers pounded the Tigers on Friday at Patterson Field on the campus of the University of Louisville, we, the media, all figured Virginia was a lock to get a regional while Clemson might be on the outside looking in.
Well, as we found out on Sunday night, we were wrong. Clemson was awarded an NCAA Regional while Virginia will have to go on the road and play its next game. So as it turned out, Friday’s game was truly a meaningless game in the grand scheme of things and the ACC needs to take a good long look at the format they used and truly think about changing it.
I have heard several ideas on what the ACC should do in the future with this event. Some say if you are going to play such a horrible format then why have a tournament at all? I agree. If this is the one it will use, then please don’t even play it.
Now, I understand the ACC has to because its has two years left on its contract with Durham, N.C., where the tournament will return next year, plus it has two years left on the old television deal.
And since television is the main reason behind all of this madness, even dating back to the old format used from 2007-2016, which was also awful but not as bad, then just play a single-elimination tournament. That way when a team is eliminated after just one game, they can go home instead of waiting around in their hotel for two extra days to play a game that means nothing at all.