May 27, 2006
SETTING THE STAGE
Florida State and NC State will meet for the fourth time in 10 days all in the state of Florida. The Wolfpack and Seminoles closed out their respective seasons versus one another in Tallahassee. Florida State won the first two games and the Pack took the last game on Saturday. Today’s match-up will feature the exact same pitching duel as the series finale. One week ago NC State and Ryan Pond downed Mark Sauls and the Seminoles 15-7. FSU has had a lot of success versus the Wolfpack at the ACC Tournament winning nine of 12 meetings and eight of the last nine. This will be the first postseason meeting between the squads since FSU downed NC State 6-5 in Salem, VA in 2004. That year FSU took two of three in Tallahassee and then the one game in the ACC’s. The 10 times the teams have faced off for the first time in the ACC Tournament FSU has gone 9-1 in those games. The other two NC State wins have come in the second meeting between the teams in the ACC Tournament.
REASONS TO BELIEVE
Florida State has lost the first game of the ACC Tournament on three occasions (1993, 1994 and 2006). The previous two times FSU lost the first game, the team went on to win at least three straight games following the loss. In 1993 Florida State lost to Clemson and then beat Virginia, Georgia Tech (the No. 1 seed) and Clemson. In 1994 the Seminoles opened with a loss to NC State and then beat Maryland, Wake Forest, Clemson and NC State. This year FSU will go after that third straight win after losing to Virginia and then coming back to beat UNC and Virginia.
The Seminoles have been excellent in the ACC Tournament when facing adversity. FSU has gone 24-10 in a conference tournament after losing a game. In the 12 tournaments in which FSU has lost a game they have gone on to play in the championship three times and won the title two other times.
Half of the schools that have won the 32 ACC Championships have suffered a loss at some point in the tournament.
Florida State has won two games on Saturday to reach the conference championship game three times in program history. In 1994 FSU beat Clemson and NC State but lost to the Tigers in the title game. In 1995 FSU beat North Carolina and Clemson. The Seminoles then won the title on Sunday with another win over the Tigers. In 1996 FSU beat Clemson and Virginia before falling to Virginia in the final on Sunday.
Florida State lost the first game of the 1994 tournament yet fought its way back to the ACC Championship game that year falling to Clemson.
In the history of the tournament there have been 13 occasions when a team has won two games on the second-to-last day of the tournament to make it to the championship. It has only happened six times in the last 13 seasons and FSU has done it four times (94, 95, 96 and 98) in that span.
WORKING AGAINST US
No team in conference history has ever lost the first game of the ACC Tournament and then gone on to win the ACC Crown.
Only five times in 32 ACC tournaments has a team lost its first game and then played for the title.
Florida State has never beaten the same team twice on the same day in an ACC Tournament.
The Seminoles have never defeated NC State twice in the same ACC Tournament.
On 13 occasions a team has won two games on the second-to-last day of the tournament to make it to the championship but only five have gone on to win the title and only two have done it in the last 23 years (Georgia Tech in 2003 and FSU in 1995).
The FSU bats are heating up at the right time. After hitting .187 in the seven games leading up to the final regular season series, the Seminoles are hitting .333 in the last six games all versus NCAA Tournament teams (NC State-3, North Carolina-1 and Virginia-2).
The bottom is coming through. In the last two games the bottom of the Seminole order has been key to both FSU wins. Versus UNC, the 7, 8 and 9 hitters loaded the bases for the walk off win. Versus Virginia the 7, 8 and 9 hitters each had a hit, two had doubles, to start the 7-run inning.
After making 11 errors in a six-game span, FSU has committed just three in the last six games. For the first time all season the Seminoles have gone errorless in four games in a five game span.