They’ve made 36 previous trips to the College World Series between them. And neither has a championship to show for it.

Florida State is making its 25th appearance in Omaha. North Carolina is there for the 13th time. They rank 1-2 on the list of teams with the most CWS opportunities without bringing home a title.

Maybe, just maybe, this might finally be the year the law of averages catches up with one of the ACC’s traditional baseball powers.

At least one of them is off to a promising start.

The Tar Heels continued living their charmed postseason existence by walking off conference rival Virginia 3-2 on Friday in the tournament opener at Charles Schwab Field. The Seminoles then came within an out and a controversial checked swing of joining the Tar Heels in the winner’s bracket of the double-elimination event before ending up on the wrong side of the 9th-inning dramatics in a 12-11 loss to No. 1 overall seed Tennessee.

The 1-run decisions set up a pivotal showdown between the Tar Heels and Volunteers on Sunday, with the winner earning the inside track to next week’s best-of-3 championship series.

FSU and UVa will also play Sunday in hopes of extending their stay in Omaha. And in the case of the Cavaliers, avoid a 2nd straight short 2-and-out stay.

Tennessee’s victory on Friday gives the SEC an early leg up on the ACC in what is essentially a competition between the nation’s best 2 college baseball conferences. Each has 4 teams in the 8-team field, the 1st time under the current format that only 2 leagues have been represented at the CWS.

Another ACC-SEC battle is scheduled for Saturday when NC State takes on Kentucky in the 1st of 2 Pool B games.

The matchup between the Tar Heels and Volunteers will be a study in contrasts. And not just because of the way they won their opening victories.

While Tennessee is trying to become the first top overall seed to win the CWS title since Miami in 1999, UNC has taken on the vibe of a team of destiny thanks to a string of improbable late-game rallies and final at bat wins.

The Vols have the motivation. The Tar Heels have the mojo.

Even though the teams haven’t met one another since the 2019 Chapel Hill Regional, there’s at least 1 particular aspect of the matchup in which no scouting report is needed. If the game is on the line with a base open in the 9th inning or later, Tennessee would be advised not to risk pitching to UNC star Vance Honeycutt.

UVa coach Brian O’Connor made that mistake on Friday.

In his defense, it was one of those choose-your-poison kind of situations. The hitter behind Honeycutt in the batting order, Casey Cook, already had 3 hits in the game and was just as dangerous.

But with 2 bases open, O’Conner could have walked them both.

Instead, he rolled the dice.

“It was the right matchup,” O’Connor said afterward. “Honeycutt’s a great player. He’s hit a lot of home runs. But I felt we had handled him really good all day. … There was really no decision for me who to go to.”

Honeycutt isn’t just the face of the Tar Heels and a soon-to-be 1st round MLB Draft pick. He’s a dynamic player who in addition to having immense, also talent possesses the clutch gene. He’s already shown it several times this postseason.

And after going 0 for his first 4 in Omaha, he was due.

Honeycutt came through with an RBI single to drive home the winning run. It was his second walkoff hit this postseason and the 4th time in the past 6 games that UNC has won after being tied or trailing in the 9th.

“You shouldn’t feel like he’s going to come through every time, but that’s how I felt,” Cook said. “That’s how it’s been going lately. Everybody in the dugout knew he was going to come through.”

Tennessee had its own late-inning hero.

Cleanup hitter Dylan Dreiling got the Vols within 11-8 with an RBI single in the 8th before driving home the winning run with another single as part of a 4-run 9th-inning rally.

As disappointing as the close opening round loss was for UVa earlier in the day, it was doubly heart wrenching for FSU.

The Seminoles have made no secret of their desire to honor their late former coach Mike Martin by accomplishing the 1 goal he was never able to reach. Martin, who died at the age of 79 in February. won 2,029 games in his 40-year career. More than any coach in college baseball history.

But he never won the big one.

Friday’s loss, their 1st of the postseason, doesn’t end their quest. But it makes an already tall task that much more daunting. Twenty-seven of the past 33 national champions began the CWS by going 2-0 in their 1st 2 games.

That’s promising news for UNC.

As for FSU, it can take inspiration from the fact that last year’s winner LSU also suffered an early loss before bouncing back to win the title.

So there’s still hope that the 25th time might finally be the charm.