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The Daily Tar Heel

Schedule breakdown: No. 11 UNC baseball looks to build upon 2022 postseason run

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Members of the UNC baseball team line up for the National Anthem before UNC's NCAA Regional against VCU at Boshamer Stadium on June 6, 2022.

North Carolina is ranked No. 11 in the Collegiate Baseball preseason poll, but several challenging matchups on the schedule will make maintaining that ranking no easy feat.

The Tar Heels won 27 of their 34 non-conference games last season, but that win percentage dropped dramatically once ACC play began, as UNC won just half of its conference games. 

Despite a pedestrian performance against ACC opponents, the Tar Heels made an unforeseeable run in the conference tournament, culminating in a 9-5 victory against N.C. State in the championship game before falling to Arkansas in the super regional of the NCAA tournament.

Here’s a look at what's in store for the Tar Heels this season.

Non-conference

UNC will start the season with a five-game home stand at Boshamer Stadium, beginning with a weekend series against Seton Hall that starts on Feb. 18.

A late February series against No. 20 East Carolina headlines UNC’s non-conference schedule. Despite winning two of three games in last year’s matchup against ECU, the Pirates tested the Tar Heels in every game, especially on the road.

The Tar Heels' largest margin of victory against East Carolina was three runs, and they lost 5-0 on the road. With two of three games in this year’s matchups being in Greenville, the Tar Heels’ struggles in away games could present a problem against a mostly intact Pirates roster.  

Other notable games on UNC’s non-conference schedule include four Tuesday matchups against Charlotte and Coastal Carolina. The Tar Heels will play one away game and one home game against both opponents.

UNC only played Charlotte once last year, but the game was a tightly contested matchup that ended with a 4-3 UNC victory in extra innings. 

Unlike last year, the Tar Heels will have to play the 49ers on the road on March 14. Such a game will likely be a welcomed opportunity to address issues with winning away games, as the team finished with a 5-12 record in enemy territory.

Similarly, UNC will likely look forward to a road game against Coastal Carolina, especially after sweeping the Chanticleers at home last season.

Conference

UNC’s weekend series against Virginia starting on March 10 marks the beginning of a gauntlet ACC schedule for the Tar Heels. Key matchups include a late-season road trip to Clemson and a home series against rival N.C. State, but UNC’s toughest stretch will likely be when they face Notre Dame, No. 23 Georgia Tech and No. 8 Miami. 

UNC will face an intimidating three-series stretch starting on March 31 in South Bend, Ind., where the Notre Dame Fighting Irish was nearly unbeatable last year with a 17-3 home record.

The Tar Heels will then travel south to take on the Yellow Jackets in Atlanta. Despite finishing just above Georgia Tech in last year’s Coastal Division standings, UNC struggled against the Yellow Jackets at home and lost the series, 2-1. 

A home series against the Hurricanes rounds out the Tar Heels’ toughest stretch of the season. Miami dominated UNC in a 3-0 series sweep last season, but this year the teams will be playing in Chapel Hill. Home-field advantage might give the Tar Heels a slight edge, as UNC went 33-9 in Boshamer Stadium in 2022, but beating the Hurricanes in a three-game series will still be a tall task. 

Those three series make the Tar Heels’ home series against N.C. State and road series against Clemson much more important. Since both series are late in the season against relatively evenly matched teams, they should serve as significant opportunities for UNC to boost its postseason resume and make critical last-minute moves in the ACC standings.

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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