The ACC released the results of their 2021 Preseason Baseball Coaches Poll on Thursday afternoon and the results indicate that the rest of the league does not think highly of Pitt.
The Panthers were picked to finish last in the Coastal division for the second consecutive year and received the lowest point total of any team in the ACC. Pitt, with 17 points, was narrowly edged by Notre Dame, who was picked to finish last in the Atlantic division with 18 points.
The ACC announced the 2021 schedule just last month. The league decided to add a pair of series between member schools to every team’s traditional 10-series schedule, increasing the total number of conference games to 36 and prompting Panthers head coach Mike Bell to call it “possibly the most challenging schedule in the history of our program.”
The Panthers will face five opponents who received a first-place vote within their first nine series of the season.
Louisville was picked as the overwhelming favorite to win their division and conference once again. They took home nine of a possible 14 votes to win April’s ACC tournament. Miami and Virginia each earned two votes and Florida State earned one. The Cardinals also ran away with the division vote with 11 votes to NC State, Florida State and Clemson’s one a piece.
Despite being picked to win the conference in each of the past three years, the Cardinals have never won an ACC tournament title. The Seminoles, whom Pitt opens their ACC schedule against, was pegged to finish third in the Atlantic division as well.
But even though there is an astounding consensus that the Panthers are likely to reclaim their perennial spot at the bottom of the conference barrel, Bell is confident and said before the team’s first practice on Jan. 29 that they are improving, even if that’s not evident on the surface.
“We as a coaching staff knew that there were some things that we needed to tighten up on,” Bell said. “And that’s going to take some time as you build depth with their roster within a program, but ultimately we feel like we’re definitely trending in the right direction.”
The full results were as follows, with first-place votes in parentheticals:
- Louisville (11) – 95
- NC State (1) – 74
- Florida State (1) – 73
- Clemson (1) – 48
- Wake Forest – 45
- Boston College – 39
- Notre Dame – 18
- Miami (7) – 89
- Virginia (5) – 85
- Georgia Tech (2) – 71
- Duke – 59
- North Carolina – 40
- Virginia Tech – 31
- Pitt – 17
Pitt will begin their season-opening swing through the south of the conference in little over two weeks. They will first head to Tallahassee, Florida for three games against Florida State. First pitch against the Seminoles is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Feb. 26.