Clemson University

ACC baseball tournament preview

Bracket A

No. 1 Miami

Record: 43-8, 23-5 ACC (Coastal Division champs)

Player to watch: First baseman Yonder Alonso, junior. Headlines a trio of possible first-round picks. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Yonger led the ACC with 19 homers, including 13 in the past 21 games.

Key number: 15. Consecutive series the team won before North Carolina took two of three in Coral Gables, Fla., to end the regular season.

Odds of winning: 5-2. Miami is loaded with pro prospects and possesses the league’s most feared offense. However, it has to score to offset shaky middle relief.

No. 4 N.C. State

Record: 37-18, 18-11

Player to watch: Outfielder Matt Payne, senior. Payne may be the best player in the league no one knows. The late bloomer hit .409 in ACC play.

Key number: .526. The team’s winning percentage away from home.

Odds of winning: 7-1. The Wolfpack believe they can make a case for landing an NCAA regional site despite the fact UNC is bound to get one. This team is scrappy, but its late-season momentum was built on the cream puff portion of its schedule.

No. 5 Georgia Tech

Record: 38-17, 16-14

Player to watch: Shortstop Derek Dietrich, freshman. A third-round pick last year by Houston, the ACC’s top newcomer hit .333 with 14 homers and 62 RBIs.

Key number: 1.6. Average number of home runs per game for the Yellow Jackets, tops in the league

Odds of winning: 20-1. The Yellow Jackets can beat decent teams only one way - a slugfest. On paper, they are best-equipped to get lucky against Miami; on the other hand, they could as easily get swept without raising anyone’s eyebrow.

No. 8 Clemson

Record: 30-25-1, 11-18-1

Player to watch: Right fielder Kyle Parker, freshman. The early enrollment football recruit heads to his hometown on a roll, having produced 28 RBIs in the past 15 games. He needs one homer to tie the school’s freshman record (15, by Matthew LeCroy, 1995)

Key number: 21. Consecutive years the Tigers have made the NCAA tournament, a streak that is in jeopardy if they do not win the ACC tourney

Odds of winning: 50-1. In any other year, Clemson’s 11th-hour surge might make it the team no one wanted to face. These Tigers, though, have not fared well in pressure situations, much less strung together three or four noteworthy wins in a row.

Bracket B

No. 2 Florida State

Record: 46-9, 24-6 (Atlantic Division champs)

Player to watch: Catcher Buster Posey, junior. What can’t Posey do? The ACC’s player of the year hit .471 with 17 HRs and 68 RBIs. He led the league in seven categories: average, hits, runs, RBIs, total bases, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. He threw out 41.6 percent of attempted base-stealers, went 6-for-6 on save opportunities with a 0.00 ERA and played all nine positions during a rout of Savannah State.

Key number: 7. Years since Florida State’s last College World Series berth. Before this stretch, the Seminols had qualified in 11 of the previous 15 seasons.

Odds of winning: 5-1. For someone with such a blatant homefield advantage, the Seminoles have floundered since the tourney moved to Jacksonville. They are 6-6 without a title-game appearance in three years. Never bet against a streak.

No. 3 North Carolina

Record: 45-10, 22-7

Player to watch: Pitcher Rob Wooten, senior. As a utility man in perhaps the nation’s deepest bullpen, he had given up one run in 22Ð innings in ACC games before yielding three in 3Ð innings against Miami.

Key number: 9. Relievers with at least 13 appearances who have an ERA of less than 3.30.

Odds of winning: 2-1. Sure, they are the No. 3 seed. But by taking two of three from the top-ranked Hurricanes last weekend, the Tar Heels served notice they might be just as strong as their CWS runner-up teams of the past two years.

No. 6 Virginia

Record: 36-19, 15-15

Player to watch: Pitcher Pat McAnaney, senior. Junior Jacob Thompson was supposed to be the ace, but McAnaney (4-4, 3.09 ERA), a lefty, threw three complete games. The Cavs will need a similar effort to knock off one of their bracket’s Goliaths.

Key number: 125. Stolen bases, which led the ACC by 40 and ranks sixth nationallyOdds of winning: 30-1. Virginia’s small-ball approach has not generated the dividends of years past because its players are not as efficient at getting on base.

No. 7 Wake Forest

Record: 24-29, 13-16 ACC

Player to watch: First baseman/third baseman Allan Dykstra, junior. It took a while for everyone to remember he is not related to Lenny. But scouts have never wavered in their belief he was a first-round draft talent stuck in obscurity, and the 6-5, 240-pound left-handed hitter put up another stellar year without much of a supporting cast. He hit .322 with 14 homers and 45 RBIs.

Key number: 11. Times the Demon Deacs gave up 10-plus runs in a conference game.

Odds of winning: 100-1. Simply put, this team does not even have SoCon-quality pitching. Its top starter is Furman transfer Ben Hunter (4-5, 4.93), and its best regular reliever has an 8.77 ERA.