Two of the 4 semifinal spots in the ACC baseball tournament have been filled.

And neither of the advancing teams is the top seed in its respective group.

Miami, the 11th seed in the 12-team field, held off No. 2 Clemson 8-7 on Thursday to clinch Pool B while No. 6 Duke followed with an emphatic 8-1 snackdown of 3rd-seeded NC State that nailed down Pool C.

If this were basketball, those are the kinds of results that would prompt click-bait social media posts from the likes of Joe Lunardi and Jon Rothstein trashing the ACC as a 2nd-rate conference.

Or in Rothstein’s case, a 2-bid league.

But because this is baseball, the spin is much more positive. Rather than a sign of weakness, the success of the lower-seeded teams this week in Charlotte is a validation of the quality and depth that exists throughout the ACC.

Maybe it doesn’t go 11 deep like the SEC. But other than that, no other conference comes close to matching the number of ACC teams capable of making a deep run in the NCAA Tournament that begins next week.

Of the 7 locks for NCAA bids, as many as 5 will likely be among the top 16 seeds chosen to host regionals.

That number doesn’t include Duke, which could put itself into the picture by winning twice this weekend and bringing home the conference championship for the 2nd time in 4 years. With ace Jonathan Santucci expected back on the mound for Saturday’s semifinal, that’s a realistic possibility.

Injuries to Santucci and Thursday’s winning pitcher Andrew Healy helped contribute to a late-season swoon that knocked the Blue Devils from the top 10 to their current No. 17 ranking in the poll.

But with their return and the way Chris Pollard’s team is raking, with 7 homers and 19 runs scored in its ACC Tournament wins against State and Virginia Tech, it’s clear that they’ve returned to form.

Even if they don’t rise back into the top 16, there’s not a regional host that will be happy to see Duke’s name show up as the No. 2 seed in their bracket when the selections are announced at noon on Monday.

Which brings us to Miami.

The Hurricanes limped into Charlotte as little more than a bracket-filler after losing their final 2 regular season games at home to 12th-seeded Pittsburgh last weekend. They finished 11-19 in the ACC, their worst record since joining the conference in 2005. At 26-29 in JD Arteaga’s rookie season as coach, they’re in danger of their 1st losing season since 1959.

But the ACC is famous for double-digit seeds advancing out of pool play.

Miami is now the 5th team to do it since 2018, joining No. 12 Pitt in 2018, No. 12 Boston College in 2019 and both No. 11 Pitt and No. 10 NC State in 2022.

Before taking down Clemson, the Hurricanes beat Louisville 8-5 in the tournament’s opening game Tuesday afternoon.

Maybe they just picked a good time to play their 2 best games of the year. Or just maybe it’s taken them this long to finally figure things out. Two of their best players in the tournament – 3rd baseman Daniel Cuvet (5-for-9, 2 homers and 8 RBI in 2 games) and shortstop Antonio Jimenez (3-for-5, a homer, 3 RBI and 3 walks) – are freshmen, after all.

Of course, there’s also a third possibility to consider.

What if Miami really isn’t as bad as its record makes it seem? What if the Hurricanes are actually pretty good, but just happen to play in a conference loaded with teams that are just a little bit better?

Somebody has to lose those games.


Regardless of which scenario is closest to the truth, it’s still a cold hard fact that the only way Miami becomes one of the 64 teams whose season is extended beyond Sunday is by running the table and taking home the ACC championship trophy.

It’s unlikely. But not impossible. Just ask Kevin Keatts and his NC State basketball team.

After they ran off 5 wins in 5 days to steal the ACC’s basketball tournament title, winning a couple of baseball games this weekend doesn’t seem quite so daunting.

Especially when you’re playing with house money.

“We’re thankful for the opportunity to play at least 1 more game,” Arteaga said after Thursday’s win. “We’re going to empty the tank out there and give it all we’ve got. Everyone is very excited. We’re finally playing some good baseball at the right time.”

Arteaga’s Hurricanes will take on Duke in Saturday’s 2nd semifinal, 30 minutes after the winners of Pool A and D face off on the other side of the bracket.

Top seeds North Carolina (No. 1 overall) and Virginia (No. 4) are still in the running to advance. They’ll finish pool play with their final games on Friday against Wake Forest and Florida State, respectively.

All 4 teams are nationally ranked. So even if the Tar Heels and Cavaliers join Clemson and NC State in the stands rather than on the field battling it out for a spot in the championship final, it won’t be a surprise.

And it definitely won’t be an upset.