By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
RALEIGH, N.C. – Wake Forest isn’t playing in the NCAA tournament, but may get as many mentions this week as its fellow ACC members who are.
The ACC, rated the No. 1 RPI conference this season, hasn’t won a national championship since Wake Forest did in 1955.
North Carolina State coach Elliott Avent says his team is good enough to break that streak. He has no idea why the streak’s as long as it is.
“Those questions are asked in any sport, Marv Levy with the Buffalo Bills, the field goal goes right at the end of the game. And Dean Smith (former North Carolina basketball coach) kept getting there. Why didn’t he win his first championship, and it took a bad timeout to win it or something like that. Things just happen. There are other good teams there, too,” Avent said.
Since 1990 the SEC has won nine national championships, six by LSU, two by South Carolina and one by Georgia.
The ACC has finished runner-up three times during that span.
“You talk about winning national championships it seems like the SEC has put their stamp on winning national championships in college baseball through the years. When you compete in that kind of league day in and day out it creates a certain toughness that prepares you for times like this, much like the ACC prepares us for times like this,” Avent said.
On the eve of the tournament, two Ole Miss players were named All-Americans by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper.
The Arizona-based publication honored catcher Stuart Turner on its second team and pitcher Bobby Wahl on its third team.
Both are also juniors projected to go early in the coming Major League Baseball draft, Wahl in the first round.
Turner leads the Rebels in hitting at .381, second in the SEC. He has thrown out 21 of 41 would-be base-stealers.
Wahl is 9-0 with a 1.99 earned run average. He is 4-0 with a 1.14 ERA against ranked teams.
North Carolina State pitcher Carlos Rodon and infielder Trea Turner were teammates with Wahl on Team USA last summer.
“We’ve talked and texted a little bit. They’re always joking around with me,” said Wahl, who declined an invitation to sleep on Rodon’s couch.
Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco will be an assistant on the Team USA staff this summer.