NORMAN — North Carolina baseball coach Mike Fox, gracious in defeat while applauding the play of Oklahoma, still struggled to answer the pressing local question Sunday night.
Are the Sooners College World Series caliber? "I know if they go to the University of Virginia, they better play their very best,” Fox said. "Because Virginia's one of, if not the best team in the country. We know, we played them. "They're solid up and down the lineup. They pitch very well. They're hard to beat in their home ballpark. They're experienced. You have to play at a high level. Can't give them anything if you want a chance to beat the University of Virginia.” Pausing a moment, and met by faces still waiting for his take on OU, Fox offered one morsel of hope for the Sooners. "I'm not sure if I answered the question or not,” Fox said, "but we know how tough it is to beat the University of Virginia. "It'll be a good series, for sure.” Virginia swept North Carolina in a weekend series, although all three games were close, on its way to the ACC regular-season championship and a No. 1 ranking. The Cavaliers, at 50-12, have already set a program record for wins. They're playing in their seventh straight NCAA Tournament and return plenty from a team that advanced to the College World Series a year ago. And Virginia is battle tested, having ruled the rugged ACC while playing 27 of 58 games (46.5 percent) against NCAA Tournament teams before beginning the postseason, going 19-8 in those matchups. Against teams who have advanced to Super Regionals, the Cavaliers are 8-4: 3-1 against Miami, 2-1 against Clemson, 2-2 against Florida State and 1-0 against Coastal Carolina. Clearly, the Sooners have drawn a tough assignment. Not that anybody said getting to Omaha was easy. And not that anybody in Norman seems all too concerned. "I don't know much about them,” OU ace Zach Neal said.