Virginia has reached the NCAA tournament in each of Brian O'Connor's first 11 seasons as coach. The Cavaliers (27-18) have some work to do this year to keep that streak alive. Virginia is in the midst of a nine-day break for final exams, and the Cavaliers' 10-14 record in Atlantic Coast Conference play places them 10th in the league standings. With five teams no better than 2 1/2 game ahead of the Cavaliers, and Virginia Tech and Boston College each a half-game behind, there are eight teams battling for the final six spots in the 10-team tournament with two weekends to go.
Mike Shawaryn's nickname is the ''Unicorn,'' and even though there's no horn protruding from under the bill of his cap, it would be hard to convince Big Ten coaches the unbeaten Maryland pitcher doesn't possess magical powers lately. Erstad, like other coaches, was drawn to Shawaryn's winning pedigree.
Illinois coach Dan Hartleb has experienced how quickly things can change in baseball, so he was understandably subdued Monday in the wake of a three-game sweep at Penn State that extended the nation's longest active win streak to 17.
The Cardinals, in their first year in the Atlantic Coast Conference, are on track for their sixth regular-season title in seven years. They're using the same formula that produced success in the American Athletic Conference and, before that, the Big East: strong pitching and an aggressive offense. Louisville (30-9) this past weekend swept Wake Forest, winning the last game when Corey Ray stole home in the bottom of the ninth inning, to improve to 19-2 in the ACC. The Cardinals are up five games on Florida State in the Atlantic Division.