As promised, I’m here to give up an update and a more in-depth breakdown of Boston College’s chances of making the 2017 ACC Tournament. Just as a refresher, 12 of the 14 teams in the conference make the tournament, held in Louisville this year, and will compete in a pool-play format. After taking a game from Wake Forest over the weekend, the Eagles enter their exam week with a conference record of 8-19, and a 19-26 mark overall.
Okay, so let’s break this down: in laymen’s terms, BC needs to end up ahead of only two teams to make the conference tournament, and with four teams presently sitting with eight wins (BC, VT, GT, and Pitt) the prospect it not so far-fetched, though, either GT or Pitt will have nine wins by this evening, as they are finishing their series tonight (Monday). When it’s all said and done, there are, realistically, five teams BC is battling to get in: Notre Dame, Duke, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, and Pittsburgh. With the exception of Notre Dame, all of those teams have six ACC games remaining, while BC has only three. I understand that the different win totals and scenarios can get a little convoluted when written out, so what I’m going to do is go team-by-team and describe what BC will likely have to do in their season finale to jump said-team and get to the postseason. I’ll do my best to keep it simple, but I make no promises. Sound good? Alright let’s jump in:
Notre Dame – After getting swept by Louisville over the weekend, the Irish sit at 10-17 in conference with only the series at BC remaining on their schedule. This is probably the easiest scenario to understand: in order to “jump” Notre Dame, Boston College must sweep them at home in two weeks. A simple series win would still put the Irish a game ahead of the Eagles when the season ends. Remember, that does not mean if they only win two of three Boston College can’t get into the tournament; they could, they would just be behind Notre Dame.
Duke – Currently, Duke sits one game ahead of BC in the win column with nine conference victories. They finish up the season with a home series this weekend against Georgia Tech followed by a trip to UNC in two weeks. Now, here is where it gets a tad complicated: the most wins BC can end up with in conference is 11 (if they sweep ND), which means the Blue Devils can win no more than two games down the stretch for the Eagles to jump them. If Duke goes 2-4, BC must sweep. Both teams would finish with 11 conference wins, but the Eagles would jump the Blue Devils by virtue of the head-to-head tiebreaker. If Duke goes 1-5, BC could sweep and jump them outright, or go 2-1 and jump via the tiebreaker. If Duke improbably goes 0-6, BC would need to go 2-1 to jump, or 1-2 to jump via the tie-breaker, though, a 1-2 finish by BC most likely does not get them ahead of two teams and into the tournament. If Duke goes 3-3 or better, the Eagles cannot catch them.
Virginia Tech – The Hokies have eight wins in the ACC, with a home series against UNC and a season finale trip to Miami still on the schedule. The scenarios pertaining to BC jumping VT are fairly simple. Because VT owns the tiebreaker over the Eagles, BC must finish with more wins outright than the Hokies. That means if Virginia Tech goes 1-5 down the stretch, BC just needs to take two from Notre Dame. If VT goes 2-4 in their last six, BC must sweep the Irish to jump VT. If Tech goes 3-3 or better, well, let’s hope other teams falter because that means the Eagles won’t be catching the Hokies.
Pittsburgh – So, these last two teams add a little ambiguity to the discussion because they finish their series tonight on ESPNU, but as it stands this afternoon, Pitt has only eight wins in the ACC, and has series at home versus NC State and on the road at Wake Forest remaining. SCENARIO ONE: Pitt salvages a win tonight and enters Tuesday with nine wins in conference. If that becomes the case, the Panthers can win no more than two games down the stretch and finish with no more than 11 wins overall in the ACC. BC would then need to sweep Notre Dame and pray that the tiebreaker (in this case: record vs. common conference opponents) falls in their favor since BC and Pitt did not play this season. If Pitt goes 1-5 down the stretch, and BC sweeps ND, congrats Eagles you’re more than likely going to the tourney. If BC were to only take two from the Irish, they would need Pitt to go 0-6 down the stretch, or, win one game, with the aforementioned tie breaker, hopefully, falling to the Eagles (admittedly, I haven’t had the time to research records vs. common opponents). SCENARIO TWO: Pitt loses tonight and heads into Tuesday with only eight wins. In this case, BC has a little wiggle room. Pitt could go 2-4 in their final six, and a BC sweep over ND bumps them ahead of the Panthers. A 1-5 finish from Pitt, in this scenario, would mean BC would only need two wins to jump. An improbable 0-6 from Pitt would mean the Eagles could lose the series to ND, while taking a game, and still jump the Panthers, though, I don’t think nine wins gets them past two teams. A 3-3 finish from Pitt would mean BC would need a sweep and the tiebreaker, and any Panther record 4-2 and better would be bad news for Boston College.
Georgia Tech – Okay, take everything I just said about the two scenarios with Pitt (8 wins or 9 wins heading into Tuesday) and apply it to GT. With series remaining against Duke and Virginia, the Yellow Jackets are in the same boat as Pitt as it pertains to BC’s prospect of jumping them. If GT has nine wins going into tomorrow, the most wins they can have down the stretch is two and BC would need to sweep, and pray for the tiebreaker etc. etc. (literally the same as the Pitt scenarios).
There you have it. Remember, BC needs to jump two of these teams, meaning at least two of these scenarios have to unfold and, with a good number of these teams playing each other down the stretch, there is a good chance that they do. Is it complicated? Yes. Is a lot going to depend on what other teams do this weekend while BC is off? You betcha. But, there is still hope for a berth in the postseason and reason to follow the Boston College baseball team in their final two weeks of the season. While BC’s postseason fate will definitely be shaped to some extent by what other teams do in their final six games, if you’re a BC player, your mindset has be “sweep,” because, given all the different scenarios, three wins over rival Notre Dame is the most sure-fire way to end up in Louisville. Plus, it never hurts to put the Fighting Irish in their place.
**UPDATE: Georgia Tech defeated Pittsburgh last night, earning the sweep. This means Pitt now has 8 ACC wins and GT has 9, both with six games remaining in conference.