By R.L. Bynum
CHAPEL HILL — For the 12th time in program history, North Carolina will be an NCAA regional host, with play starting Friday at Boshamer Stadium.
Joining the No. 10 overall seed and No. 1 regional seed Tar Heels (38–19) will be No. 2 regional seed Georgia (35–21), No. 3-seed VCU (40–18) and No. 4-seed Hofstra (30–21).
UNC will face Hofstra at 2 p.m. Friday (ESPN+) in the first meeting between the schools and Georgia goes up against VCU at 7 p.m. The Tar Heels will face either Georgia or VCU on Saturday at 1 p.m. with a Friday loss or 7 p.m. with a Friday victory. Single-game tickets are $15 per game and go on sale at noon Thursday. Tickets for the entire regional are $60, and go on sale at noon Wednesday.
Carolina tied No. 1 overall seed Tennessee with 20 Quad 1 victories, but it wasn’t good enough to be a top 8 national seed. UNC coach Scott Forbes said that “part of” him was surprised by that since the Tar Heels played a tough nonconference schedule that included tournament teams Coastal Carolina (UNC swept in a three-game series) and No. 8 overall seed East Carolina (UNC won two of three games).
“I did tell my wife last night I just said, ‘You know, for some reason with this team, we deserve to be a national seed, but it won’t surprise me if we’re not because our path is our path,’ ” Forbes said. “Nothing with this team will surprise me, but I do feel like we should have been one of the national seeds.”
Nine ACC teams made the field but it was a big ACC that N.C. State wasn’t one of them. The Wolfpack went from nearly making the College World Series finals last season to missing the tournament for the first time since 2014.
“I think State’s are really good club,” Forbes said. “And I think they should be in the NCAA tournament. I don’t understand why they’re not, to be honest with you. I’m confidently saying that I think they’re better maybe than some of the teams that got in but that’s not my job. I just hate it for them because they’re in our league and they’re good people and that they have a heck of a team.”
Other ACC regional hosts are Louisville, Miami and Virginia Tech. Georgia Tech, Notre Dame, Virginia and Wake Forest are No. 2 seeds and Florida State is a No. 3 seed.
The Chapel Hill Regional winner will be matched with the Stillwater Regional winner in a Super Regional Series. Oklahoma State (39–20) is the top seed in that regional, with Arkansas (38–18) No. 2, Grand Canyon (41–19) No. 3 and Missouri State (30–27) No. 4.
UNC has been a host under the current format 10 previous times, with the 2008 regional held in Cary because of Boshamer Stadium renovations. The Tar Heels also were host for the 1983 East Regionals.
Under the current NCAA format, the Tar Heels advanced to the College World Series seven of the previous 10 seasons as a regional host.
The No. 12-ranked Tar Heels finished a 4–0 ACC Tournament by beating N.C. State 9–5 in Charlotte on Sunday for their 15th win in the last 17 games and seventh in a row. They have the third-best RPI in the country.
The Bulldogs, No. 19 in the RPI, lost their first game in the SEC Tournament 5-3 to Alabama. UNC hasn’t played Georgia since 2002. The series, which dates back to 1899, is tied 19–19–2.
VCU, No. 56 in the RPI, beat Richmond 10-7 on Saturday to win the Atlantic 10 Tournament. UNC is 21–6 all-time against the Rams.
Hofstra, No. 118 in the RPI, beat Elon Sunday to win the CAA title.
Chapel Hill Regional
Game 1: No. 1 North Carolina (38-19) vs. No. 4 Hofstra (30-21), 2 p.m., ESPN+
Game 2: No. 2 Georgia (35-21) vs. No. 3 VCU (40-18), 7 p.m., ESPN+
Game 3: Losers of Friday’s games meet, 1 p.m., ESPN+
Game 4: Winners of Friday’s games meet, 7 p.m., ESPN+
Game 5: Winner Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4, 1 p.m.
Game 6: Winner Game 4 vs. Winner Game 5, 6 p.m.
Monday’s game (if necessary)
Two remaining teams play for the title, 6 p.m.
Past Chapel Hill Regionals
2006 — UNC went 3–0 to advance, beating Maine and Winthrop (twice); made College World Series
2007 — UNC went 3–0 to advance, beating Jacksonville, ECU and Western Carolina; made College World Series
2008 (Cary Regional because of Boshamer Stadium renovations) — UNC went 3–0 to advance, beating Mount St. Mary’s and UNCW (twice); made College World Series
2009 — UNC went 3–0 to advance, beating Dartmouth, Coastal Carolina and Kansas; made College World Series
2011 — UNC went 3–0 to advance, beating Maine and James Madison (twice); made College World Series
2012 — UNC went 2–2, beating Cornell and ECU, losing to St. John’s (twice)
2013 — UNC went 3–1 to advance, beating Canisius, Towson and splitting two games with Florida Atlantic; made College World Series
2017 — UNC went 2–2, beating Michigan and Florida Gulf Coast and losing to Davidson (twice)
2018 — UNC went 3–0 to advance, beating N.C. A&T and Houston (twice); made College World Series
2019 — UNC went 3–0 to advance, beating UNCW, Liberty and Tennessee; lost to Auburn in Chapel Hill Super Regional
NCAA tournament bracket
Photo courtesy of the ACC