No ACC team with at least a .500 conference record and an RPI ranking of 50 or better has ever been left out of the NCAA baseball tournament.

That precedent bodes well for Georgia Tech and possibly Louisville as Selection Monday approaches.
But as we’ve learned in football and basketball over the past couple of years, precedents were made to be broken.

No undefeated Power 5 champion had ever failed to be selected for the College Football Playoff before Florida State was snubbed, by a committee chaired by an ACC school’s athletic director, last season.

And before Wake Forest in 2021 and Clemson in ‘22, no ACC basketball team with at least 23 wins and double-digit conference league victories had been left out of the NCAA Tournament.

So even though the Yellow Jackets are inside the top 50 at No. 46 with a 15-15 ACC mark and Louisville is close at No. 52 and 16-14, both can expect some nervous moments until the bracket is announced on Monday.

The encouraging news for both bubble teams – along with Virginia Tech, which at No. 61 is the only other conference entry with even a remote shot at getting 1 of the 33 available at-large NCAA bids – is that the ACC is held in much higher regard in baseball than in the other 2 major sports.

The league has 7 teams in the final regular season D1Baseball poll, more than any conference in the country. Even the SEC. And all 7 are in the top 20 of the RPI.

It means that the ACC has as many teams heading into this week’s conference tournament looking to earn NCAA regional host bids as it does teams hoping simply to sneak into the bracket. It also means that the caliber of competition in Charlotte will give each of those bubble teams opportunities to improve their standing with a strong showing.

That is, of course, unless they take the guesswork out of the equation by winning the tournament and earning the ACC’s automatic bid.

Short of bringing home the trophy, here’s a look at what the 2 Techs and Louisville can do to enhance their chances between now and Monday.

And what each absolutely can not afford to do.

Georgia Tech

Overall record: 31-21 ACC: 15-15. RPI: 46

The Yellow Jackets are in the best position to finish on the right side of the bubble because of their placement in Group D of the ACC Tournament’s pool play format. That means they’re guaranteed to play 2 high-RPI opponents in Virginia and Florida State.

Winning either game should be enough to put them safely into the NCAA field. Getting both and earning a spot in the single elimination semifinal round would almost certainly guarantee it.

Because of the quality of opponents, going 2-and-BBQ wouldn’t necessarily eliminate Danny Hall’s team from consideration. But with 5 Quad 3 losses and a horrible Quad 4 setback to 11-17 Cornell (194 RPI) staining its resume, Tech will have to hold its breath that few if any bids get stolen by upsets in other conferences.

If the Jackets don’t get in, they can look back on Cornell and a series sweep at the hands of Boston College, one of 2 teams that were left out of the ACC Tournament, as the reasons.


Overall record: 32-22 ACC: 16-14. RPI: 52

The Cardinals have an almost identical overall record and finished 1 game better than Georgia Tech in the ACC. So why are they 6 spots lower than the Yellow Jackets and in a much more precarious bubble situation heading into the postseason?

The answer is simple. One extra Quad 4 loss and 2 fewer Quad 1 wins.

Not only did Louisville stumble against 8-16 St. Bonaventure as part of its season-opening 4-game losing streak, it also took a 2nd bad home loss to 18-34 Northwestern (145 RPI) 2 weeks later.  At the other end of the ledger, the Cardinals have 7 Quad 1 wins, compared to 9 for Tech.

Making matters worse, they’re stuck in an ACC Tournament pool that includes Miami, the lowest-rated team in the field at No. 90. They absolutely can’t afford to lose that game to have any shot at an NCAA bid. And unless everything else around the nation goes straight chalk, they might also have to take down Clemson as well.

Virginia Tech

Overall record: 32-20 ACC: 14-16 RPI: 61

With a losing conference record and a lot of teams to jump, including 2 in their own conference, the 10th-seeded Hokies have a sizable hill to climb once they get to Charlotte. They have several glaring blemishes on their resume to overcome, the ugliest of which are their 3 Quad 4 losses.

And as if their ACC record wasn’t damaging enough, consider that 9 of their 14 victories have come against Notre Dame and Boston College, the 2 teams that didn’t make it into the field, and Pittsburgh, the lowest seed that did get in.

John Szefc’s team will get a pair of Quad 1 opportunities in pool play against NC State and Duke. But even winning both games might not be enough to get over the hump and into the NCAA Tournament. It might also need a semifinal victory and a trip to Sunday’s championship game to seal the deal.

While the odds are against that kind of run by a double-digit ACC seed, it’s not impossible. Four teams – No. 12 Pitt in 2018, No. 12 BC in 2019, No 11 Pitt and No. 10 NC State in 2022 – have pulled it off in the past 5 conference tournaments.