ACC Takes: Duke, Wake, NCSU, UMAnalysis
RALEIGH, N.C. — A year after the ACC sent a record 10 teams to regionals, a number of its would-be contenders have struggled to perform up to their talent so far in 2017. Of those 10 teams that made regionals last year, four are off to very good starts (Louisville, Florida State, Clemson and Wake Forest), and so is North Carolina, which missed regionals last year. Two others played well against soft competition over the first three weeks but lost their first ACC series last week (Georgia Tech and Virginia). And four simply scuffled over the first month (NC State, Miami, Boston College and Duke entered this weekend with a combined .500 winning percentage).
The Wolfpack showed some fortitude in a win Friday against Miami, then waited out a couple of weather delays Saturday and posted a pretty convincing 5-2 victory to secure the series. Miami, at 8-11, is clearly still searching for its identity.
Earlier Saturday across the Triangle, Duke evened its series against a very good Wake Forest team with a 7-3 victory. The Blue Devils climbed back above .500 at 11-10, and they showed plenty of signs of progress, though they still have work to do (but what coach will ever tell you they don’t have work to do in March?).
“These guys are giving me ulcers,” Duke coach Chris Pollard quipped about his young pitchers. “They’re super talented, and every ballgame, in my head about 10 times a game I just say, ‘Be patient, be patient, they’re gonna be really good.’ We’ve got a lot of power arms that are freshmen, we’ve just got to let them grow up. We just had three seniors (in the rotation) last year, it was just zip, zip, zip, zip — they never beat themselves, I’ll see you in the sixth inning. So we’re still a work in progress.”
Everybody’s a work in progress, but all four ACC teams that played in the Triangle on Saturday have various reasons for optimism. Some have more cause for concern than others. Here are some takeaways on all four clubs:
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