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Boston College 76, Virginia Tech 61: Eagles Smoke Hokies In Bubble Matchup

Jeff: BC finished a great four day trip to the state of Virginia last night with an impressive 40 minute win over Virginia Tech. BC won by 15 on the road against the team who just beat Duke.  The Eagles started slow against the Cavaliers on Saturday but that was not really the case last night. BC played well for all 40 minutes and even though VT cut the lead to six in the second half, the outcome was never really in doubt for an optimist like myself.

Jackson (20 points), Raji (19) and Cahill (12) did most of the scoring while Trapani was quiet on the offensive end. Trapani (6 points) did his part though as he held Jeff Allen in check on the defensive side of the floor. Allen had gone for 24 and 19 in the first meeting in Chestnut Hill, but failed to get a double-double last night which was huge for BC's success. The shooters had a great night as well as six players hit a three in the first half.

What did you like from BC's dominant performance last night?

Brian: I liked that Steve Donahue seemingly out-coached Seth Greenberg last night ... in Cassell ... on senior night. Donahue went with a short rotation, using a season low eight players. And that was with both Joe Trapani and Gabe Moton in foul trouble. Donahue went with the hot-hand, starting walk-on John Cahill for the second straight night, and Cahill came up in a big way. Thirty-three minutes, 12 points and 5 rebounds.

You knew the Eagles were due for a breakout shooting performance, and they finally got one, hitting 7 of 13 three-point attempts on the first half.

The other thing about last night's game that I'm in awe of is the edge in rebounding. BC won the rebounding battle 38-22 last night, after getting pasted on the glass in BC-VT game 1. Jeff Allen, who went off on the Eagles in the first meeting up in Chestnut Hill, finished with just 3 rebounds ... all in the first half. John Cahill -- did I mention he's a walk-on -- out-rebounded Jeff Green 5-3.

Also, credit where credit is due. A lot of fans get on Josh Southern and BC's lack of an inside game, but Southern logged significant minutes last night, scored 6 points and pulled down 7 boards in a very good performance. The only blemish on the night was missing his two free throw attempts.  

After questioning the effort, especially in the first half, BC left no doubt last night who was the better team. The Eagles outplayed, out-hustled and out-coached their way to a dominant victory.

For the Hokie perspective on last night's game, check out Gobbler Country.

Jeff: Breaking down last night's win is nice and all, but we really want to break down the bracket. The win got BC back in the tournament, according to Joe Lunardi. I think BC is comfortably in after a win Saturday against Wake Forest. The other action last night which included a bad Alabama loss and a Baylor loss also helped the Eagles. North Carolina, Duke and Florida State are in from the ACC.  In my opinion, Boston College, Virginia Tech and Clemson are on the bubble, in that order, since BC has the edge over all three in RPI and SOS. I see Clemson losing to Duke tomorrow and beating VT at home on Sunday. This leaves BC as one of four teams from the ACC in the tournament with Clemson and Virginia Tech needing a win or two in the ACC Tournament to get a bid. How do you see the rest of the week playing out?

Brian: I agree that BC is in with a win on Sunday over Wake Forest, but the Eagles need to be careful. BC could easily find themselves playing Wake Forest in back-to-back games -- the regular season finale and in the first round in Greensboro -- and a loss to the Deacs in either game would be very damaging to BC's chances. 

The Eagles actually still have an outside shot at earning a first-round bye in the ACC Tournament. If BC finishes up 9-7 and ties with Virginia Tech (at Clemson), Clemson (at Duke, Virginia Tech) and Maryland (at Miami, Virginia), I believe BC would win the tie-breaker over those teams with a 4-1 record against the teams in a tie for fourth place.

I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, it gives BC one less game (and a game against an RPI Top 150+ or 200+ team, which is going to weaken our strong SOS and RPI numbers) and avoids putting the Eagles in double jeopardy against Wake Forest. On the other hand, BC can certainly benefit from stock-piling wins towards the end of the season -- even if they are over Wake. And who knows, maybe the Eagles can ride a hot hand all the way to the ACC semis or championship game if they get hot in the opening round game against Wake Forest or Georgia Tech.

As for how I see this playing out, I see BC finishing strong on senior night and pushing past Wake Forest to get to 9-7. As you suggested, I think Clemson falls to Duke but defeats the Hokies at Littlejohn to also finish 9-7, and I think Maryland will finish strong with wins over Miami and Virginia.

Four teams finish 9-7 in the final ACC standings, and based on the tiebreakers, BC earns the 4 seed, Clemson the 5 seed, Virginia Tech the 6 seed and Maryland the 7. Clemson, Virginia Tech and Maryland get through to the ACC Quarterfinals, setting up a BC-Clemson rematch. Sparked by their recent inspired play and some good shooting, the Eagles beat the Tigers to get to the ACC Semifinals, but fall short to Duke. 

As for the ACC Tournament, five teams get in -- Duke (31-3), North Carolina (25-8), Florida State (22-10), Clemson (21-11) and Boston College (20-12).