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Louisville Earns Two Seed in ACC Tournament

The Cards will play on Wednesday and Thursday this week

Photo by Jared Anderson (@MrAndersonJared)

Entering the 2022 season, Louisville was picked to finish 4th in the ACC Atlantic Division. Fast forward a few months and the Cards are right back where they belong — Champions.

Moral of the story: don’t doubt Dan. Put it on a t-shirt.

Heading into the ACC Tournament, Louisville is the #2 seed, behind Virginia Tech, who was named the overall champion after they were picked to finish 6th in the Coastal Division.

Tournament Format

The 12 teams that earned a berth in the ACC Tournament are split into four different pools, with the winner from each pool advancing to a single elimination tournament. Pool play begins on Tuesday and runs through Friday with the semifinals and finals on Saturday and Sunday.

Each game will be televised on RSN and the ACC Network Extra, with the semifinals on the ACC Network and finals on ESPN 2.

Here is a complete breakdown of the pools:

Pool A

(1) Virginia Tech

(8) North Carolina

(9) Clemson

Pool B

(2) Louisville

(7) Georgia Tech

(11) Pittsburgh

Pool C

(3) Miami

(6) Wake Forest

(10) North Carolina State

Pool D

(4) Notre Dame

(5) Virginia

(9) Notre Dame

Louisville’s Schedule

Pittsburgh (27-26, 13-16 ACC) - Wednesday at 11 AM

Georgia Tech (33-21, 15-15 ACC) - Thursday at 11 AM

Pittsburgh and Georgia Tech play on Tuesday morning so Louisville will have a chance to determine how they are going to approach their bullpen based on the results from Tuesday.

Pittsburgh

During the regular season, the Cards lost to Pittsburgh in a bit of a head scratcher, dropping the series 2-1. Matt Gilbertson (8-3) has been the anchor for the Panthers rotation this season, leading the way with a 3.55 ERA, the only sub-four ERA on the entire staff.

Although Gilbertson has been lights out this year, he has allowed 13 runs in his last two outings. My guess is that Louisville will see Gilbertson on Wednesday, who held the Cards to two runs on April 2nd.

Outside of Gilbertson, the Panthers bullpen is less than to be desired, with a team ERA of 6.25. If Louisville ends up seeing Gilbertson, getting him out of the game early will be key to picking up a win to begin ACC Tournament play.

Georgia Tech

The Yellow Jackets, one of the ACC teams Louisville did not play in the regular season, has many of the same characteristics that the Cards have displayed this season.

They have an elevated team ERA (6.52), power throughout the lineup (109 home runs), they can score runs in a hurry (506), and have six batters hitting over .300.

Their best overall player and potential top five pick in the MLB Draft, Kevin Parada, is batting .362 with 26 home runs and 84 RBI. Those are just silly numbers in a college baseball season.

One name that Cards fans will be familiar with is Tim Borden, who transferred from Louisville to Georgia Tech after last season. Borden is having a heck of a season, batting .315 with 17 home runs and 51 RBI. I’m glad to see him having success, but that can stop on Thursday.

The Yellow Jackets are going to score runs, period. Their offense is just too explosive, but their pitching staff has been atrocious, boasting the 218th ERA in all of college baseball. For comparison, Louisville’s 5.23 ERA ranks 111th.

If you are a fan of high scoring college baseball games, tune in to Pool B this week, you won’t be disappointed.

Lack of Success in Conference Tournaments

One of the more ridiculous knocks I hear about Coach McDonnell is that his teams do not perform well in conference tournaments. Is it true? Sure. Does it matter? Not in the slightest.

Louisville has made five College World Series appearances in the history of the program. In those five seasons, they are 5-9 in conference tournament games with zero championships. As a matter of fact, with all of the success the Cards have seen over the years, they have just two conference tournament championships, back in 2008 and 2009.

Would it be nice to win a conference tournament? As a fan, yes. But that does not equate to postseason success.

Roster Updates

One of the biggest questions around the program is the much anticipated return of Christian Knapczyk. I do not know a specific date, but he will be back soon. At this point, Louisville is going to host a regional, so it may not be a bad idea to rest him in the ACC Tournament, just pinch hitting/running here and there.

We will see how he is used, but all indications point that he is near ready to play.

In some unfortunate news, Drake Westcott and Seamus Barrett have entered their names in the transfer portal.

Westcott, a freshman first baseman from Illinois, was batting .158 in 12 games with one start. Westcott was highly recruited and was named to the PBR Illinois All-Decade Team coming out of high school. Other names on the team were Kyle Funkhouser and Corey Ray.

Barrett, a sophomore, appeared in six games and started three games on the mound. He recored a 11.68 ERA.

Best wishes to both of them going forward.