CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – North Carolina’s streak of 13 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, which included six trips to the College World Series, came to an end on Monday.
The Tar Heels (34-24; 13-16 ACC) were one of the first four teams left out of the NCAA Tournament a year removed from being one of the final four teams in.
UNC appeared to be in contention to host a regional following its series sweep of Boston College in late April to improve its ACC record to 13-10. A home loss to UNCG (No. 182 RPI) on Apr. 28 started a late-season slide that included eight losses in the Tar Heels’ final 10 ACC games and back-to-back sweeps in league play for the first time since 2001.
UNC’s NCAA Tournament hopes were buoyed by a No. 28 RPI ranking and the nation’s seventh toughest schedule, according to warrennolan.com, despite a 9-15 mark against the RPI Top-50.
“I still think it’s about wins,” UNC head coach Mike Fox said after Friday’s win over Clemson. “I still think you have to have enough wins. I think our RPI is good, but I don’t think that’s enough to get you in. I hope our league gets eight.”
The ACC ended up with seven teams in the NCAA Tournament.
Oregon (No. 62 RPI) and Clemson (No. 54 RPI) earned NCAA Tournament bids as “last four in” teams over the Tar Heels due in part to stronger finishes. The Ducks won 10 of their last 12, including a series win over No. 1 national seed UCLA, while the Tigers notched six wins over RPI Top-25 opponents, including a series sweep of Florida State, in the final four weeks of the season.
“We felt those that came in just had a little bit more on their resume and were deserving to be in,” NCAAT Selection Committee Chair Dave Heeke said.
UNC finished fifth in the ACC in fielding percentage (.970), sixth in ERA (3.57) and 10th in batting average (.264). The Tar Heels struggled to close out games at times, losing five games when leading after six innings and dropping four when tied after eight innings.
The Tar Heels were also 0-18 when trailing after six innings.
UNC will miss the NCAA Tournament for just the second time in 17 seasons under Fox and for the first time since 2001.
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