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Another Down Year For ACC Basketball? And The Big Finish

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Brian: It wasn't long ago that the ACC used to dominate the annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge, racking up a pair of 8-3 victories in the Challenge just a few years ago. It would seem those days are in the conference's rear-view mirror. Despite having a considerable advantage in this year's Challenge -- one of the conference's weakest teams didn't play (Miami) and the ACC having a majority of home contests -- the ACC dropped their second straight challenge. The Hokies' overtime loss to Purdue sealed the conferences fate.

The Big Ten has now won the Challenge two years in a row. The results of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, combined with some early season head-scratching losses, and it doesn't look like the ACC will be its usual dominant self this year. In fact, it seems like the ACC is down this year for basketball ... way down.

Consider the following:

Virginia Tech, the preseason #2 pick in conference, already has 3 losses to Kansas State, UNLV and Purdue and stands at 4-3. What looked to be a team finally ready to get back to the NCAA Tournament now looks like a team that may again be sitting on the NCAA Tournament bubble.

Much like the Hokies, the Tar Heels, #3 in the preseason media poll, are also 4-3, suffering losses to Minnesota, Vanderbilt and Illinois. N.C. State, supposedly the fourth best team in the conference, has beaten the teams they should have, but have lost games in fairly embarrassing fashion to Georgetown and Wisconsin. The game against the Badgers, in particular, was pretty listless. Sidney Lowe's Wolfpack lost by 39, a team that while BC did close the gap late in the game, only beat BC by 10.

And that's just the conference's preseason top 4, and says nothing about Wake Forest, Georgia Tech or Virginia's early season struggles.

ACC men's basketball this season -- way down? And if so, does this change your expectation about how far BC can go this season?

Jeff: We've already talked about changing expectations for this team this season and fortunately it is for the better. But we can't change expectations too much because BC has not played anyone out of conference that is a team that we can be certain will be a force in their own conference once conference play begins. But seeing a result like Wisconsin beating up on NC State makes me look at the schedule and possibly add another win to my predicted conference record for the team.

As far as the ACC being down we can't talk about the ACC being too down because everyone around the country seems to be in agreement that Duke is the #1 team in the nation - by a healthy margin. When you have Duke that will probably not lose a game out of conference that will help the RPI for the entire conference once tournament selection time comes.

Brian: The Eagles drew only 5,329 to Conte Forum for their ACC/Big Ten Challenge matchup with Indiana, the second lowest attendance figure of this year's Challenge (Northwestern drew just 4,455 for their home game against Georgia Tech). Apparently my two alma maters aren't doing that well drumming up interest in college hoops. Your thoughts on the low turnout for what is meant to be one of BC's early season marquee matchups?

Jeff: This attendance figure does not surprise me even a little. When I watched on TV I saw what I thought I'd see and the number seems reasonable. BC is way down for ticket sales in basketball because of what happened last season and the past couple of seasons really. We will not have a great home crowd until the Eagles go on a winning streak in conference or when North Carolina comes to town. The good news is though that even the announcers, who have done plenty of BC games before, commented towards the end of the game that the late arriving crowd was loud and excited about the team. The new style of play is truly more exciting than when Skinner was calling the plays and this will show in attendance figures by the end of the season and next year.


Big Finish

Brian: Shreveport or San Francisco -- where do you have the Eagles headed for this year's bowl game?

Jeff: Who knows. I guess Shreveport?


Jeff: If UConn makes a BCS bowl before BC does, your reaction will be ________.

Brian: Indifference, and sadness. I won't watch whatever bowl they end up in, and I feel sorry for the old guard Big East football powers like Pitt and Syracuse, who will have let new Big East teams like Louisville, Cincinnati and UConn win or share a conference title in each of the last five season.


Brian: Do Donahue and the 5-2 Eagles keep things rolling Saturday night in the Garden against the Minutemen?

Jeff: Absolutely. It's Bucknell and Harvard we need to worry about before conference play.


Jeff: Women's soccer plays in their first ever College Cup tonight on ESPNU at 6:30 against Stanford? Do you like the Eagles chances?

Brian: I'll remain optimistic that BC can pull it out, even though Stanford crushed the ACC's Florida State 5-0 in the Elite 8. 


Brian: Maryland has formed the nation's first collegiate competitive eating team. Could you see BC fielding a team? Could we hold our own in, say, ACC competitive eating? 

Jeff: Not going to happen.


Jeff: Notre Dame fans will give us another opportunity to laugh at them when they end up not headed to this year'sChamps Sports Bowl. Does that make you smile?

Brian: Not really. The mere fact that a 7-5 Notre Dame team is in consideration for the Champs Sports Bowl doesn't make me smile at all. BC needed 10 wins to fall to that bowl.


Brian: Last one. ACC Championship Game, sadly not featuring the Eagles. Who ya got? What's the final score?

Jeff: Virginia Tech without a doubt. Hokies 27, Seminoles 17.


Pick 5 

Last Pick 5 of the year, and there's slim pickings this week with only 16 college football games on Saturday. Brian has surged back to take a 2 game lead -- 32-33 to 30-35 -- with 5 games to go.


Utah State at Boise State -38
Oregon -16.5 at Oregon State
Auburn -5.5 vs. South Carolina
Florida State vs. Virginia Tech -4
Nebraska vs. Oklahoma -4.5


Pittsburgh +2 at Cincy
UConn +2 at USF
USC -6.5 at UCLA
Nebraska +4.5 vs. Oklahoma
SMU vs. Central Florida -9