Virginia was one of the hottest teams in all of college baseball in the first half of the season. The Cavaliers started the season on a 14-game winning streak and won 22 of their first 23 games. Ranked as high as No. 2 in the country, the UVA bats were the best in the country and the UVA pitching staff was vastly exceeding expectations.
Since suffering a humbling three-game sweep at the hands of Miami in early April, the Cavaliers have not been able to return to their early-season form, losing four of their last six ACC series to end the regular season. Virginia has failed to perform against top competition and has lost more than an acceptable number of games against mediocre teams.
Even with the drop-off in the second half of the season, UVA was still in position to host a regional at the NCAA Tournament, a privilege awarded to the top 16 overall seeds, as the Cavaliers prepared to play in the ACC Baseball Championship this week. At the beginning of the week, Virginia was No. 15 in D1Baseball's seeding projections. If UVA put in a good performance in pool play in Charlotte, the Cavaliers could have solidified their position as one of the top 16 seeds. Instead, UVA went 0-2, including a costly blowout 13-3 loss to Florida State followed by Virginia's first scoreless effort of the season, losing 3-0 to Notre Dame.
Now, Virginia's fate is totally in the hands of the selection committee, who will not forget the height of this team's potential as one of the best teams in the country in the first half of the season, but will also certainly not ignore the team's most recent struggles. The Cavaliers are a lock to receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, but at this point, it seems more likely that they will receive a No. 2 seed in a regional played away from the friendly confines of Disharoon Park.
In the most recent projections (released Saturday), D1Baseball now has Virginia firmly outside of the top 16 seeds:
- Virginia Tech
- Oregon State
- Texas A&M
- Notre Dame
- Southern Mississippi
- East Carolina
- North Carolina
- Georgia Southern
Virginia (38-17) is currently ranked No. 26 in terms of RPI and UVA's complete resume simply does not carry enough impressive wins to garner a top 16 seed.
The Cavaliers have won series against Duke, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, and Clemson and have swept series against Cornell, Penn State, Boston College, and North Carolina. The Tar Heels have done the Hoos some favors this week in Charlotte, winning games against Clemson and Virginia Tech to win Pool A and advance to the semifinals of the ACC Baseball Championship. UVA's sweep against UNC in late April looks even better now that the Tar Heels have worked their way into the top 16 in D1Baseball's latest projections as the No. 13 overall seed.
Unfortunately, Virginia has come up short against most of the other "good teams" on the schedule. UVA was swept by Miami and lost series at Pittsburgh and at Louisville and at home against Virginia Tech. Against the five ACC teams who are currently slated as regional hosts according to D1Baseball (Virginia Tech, Notre Dame, Miami, Louisville, North Carolina), UVA has amassed a 5-8 record.
The Virginia bats have still had their days, ranked No. 9 nationally in both team batting average and runs scored per game, but the Cavalier offense has become somewhat inconsistent down the stretch, struggling against good pitching. Virginia's starting pitching staff perhaps overperformed against below-average competition early in the season and has since been exposed as a weakness of the team late in the year. If the UVA bats are not producing 10 runs in a game, Virginia is usually not going to win the game.
Not hosting a regional in Charlottesville will certainly make the journey back to Omaha a lot tougher for a Virginia team that went 29-5 at home, 7-10 on the road, and 2-2 in neutral settings this season. However, the Cavaliers have had recent success making a run in the NCAA Tournament in seasons where they did not host a regional. In UVA's most recent trips to the College World Series in 2021 and 2015, Virginia did not host a regional in Charlottesville. UVA fans should know better than to count out Brian O'Connor and the Cavaliers in the month of June.
The NCAA Tournament bracket of 64 teams, organized into 16 regionals of four teams each, will be announced on the NCAA's Selection Show on Monday (5/30) at noon on ESPN2.
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