Your Boston College Eagles ended their regular season yesterday with a 17-14 record and 7 conference wins, putting them in 12th place in the ACC. Let us pause for a moment to take in the first winning record this team has recorded since the 2010-2011 season. Now, to look ahead to the ACC tournament. The Eagles need one to two more wins in the ACC tournament to shore up an NIT bid, and a deep tournament run could sneak the team back into NCAA tournament bubble talk. The bad news is that for a team lacking depth, playing at the high level necessary for taking down ACC teams night after night in the tournament will be a difficult task. Team-leading rebounder Steffon Mitchell did not play in the final game of the regular season due to a hamstring injury, Luka Kraljevic left the game with a head injury and did not return, and Jerome Robinson was banged up on several plays at the end of the FSU game. If any of these injuries linger, it could spell trouble for the Eagles in tournament play as the bench has not had much opportunity to play serious minutes all season. On the bright side, this team played some of its best basketball of the season last week in their victory over Syracuse, and they put together a strong effort on defense and good ball movement on offense despite not being able to close out the final game at Florida State. So, who will the Eagles see in Brooklyn this week?
Vs. No. 13 Georgia Tech
Tuesday, March 6th at 12PM on ESPN2
BC and Georgia Tech met on Super Bowl Sunday this year and BC ended up with an 80-72 overtime win in Conte Forum. The Eagles were plagued by turnovers and Robinson fouled out at the end of regulation, but they completely controlled overtime behind Ky Bowman’s eight OT points. GTech finished a game behind BC in the standings, but has been hot of late, finishing the season with consecutive home wins against NC State and Wake Forest. Still, BC should have the upper hand in this one if they can play their game and limit turnovers.
Vs. No. 5 N.C. State
Wednesday, March 7th at 2PM on ESPN
When BC traveled to Raleigh in February, they could not overcome a slow first half start and ended up getting thumped with an 82-66 loss. The Wolfpack defense shut down Jerome Robinson and the Eagle offense did not get the help they needed from other starters. Teams have been trying to do this all season, and the Eagles have dealt with it better of late, with crisp ball movement and confident shooting from other players. N.C. State has been up and down in their last few games of the season. They finished with a 20-point win over #25 Florida State, an upset loss to Georgia Tech, and a win over Louisville. If the Eagles play their best game, there is no reason they cannot come away with a win in this matchup.
Vs. No. 4 Clemson
Thursday, March 8th at 2PM on ESPN
Now we are getting into the really difficult part of the tournament for teams who have been playing since the first round. Clemson is ranked #18 in the nation and comes into this game on a week’s rest while BC would be playing their third game in three days. BC did show that they could play with the Tigers back in early January when they lost a heartbreaker after they battled back from a 13-point halftime deficit to tie the game in the final minute. They were one more Robinson three and a defensive stop away from the upset that night. Clemson is a formidable team, but they lost four of their last six regular season games. The Eagles will need to be on their best offensive game to keep up with the Tigers’ top-5 defense.
Vs. winner of the noon quarterfinal (Virginia, Louisville, or Florida State)
Friday, March 9th at 7PM on ESPN
If BC were to get this far, this would be their toughest matchup of the tournament. It is hard to imagine anyone other than #1 Virginia coming out of the other quarterfinal to face a potential BC team that would be running on fumes at this point. The 28-2 Cavaliers would be an incredibly tough out in this round, bringing their top-50 offense to go along with their NCAA-leading defense. It feels wild to think about BC coming within a Nik Popovic buzzer-beater of knocking UVA off back on December 30th, but that game is just another proof that on the right night BC can play with anyone. The key to sticking around in this one is for BC to try to match up with a lockdown defense of their own. UVA has only surpassed 70 points in two ACC games this season. If the defense can hold them to around 60 pts, if Chatman and Robinson can have a lights-out shooting night, and if Ky Bowman can take care of the ball, then maybe there may be a chance. Maybe.
Vs. winner of 9PM semifinal (likely Duke or Miami)
Saturday, March 10th at 8:30 on ESPN
Wow. Here we are. Can you believe BC upset Virginia in their fourth game in four days? Neither can I, but miracles happen. We’re up to 21 wins now and I assume Jerome Robinson and Ky Bowman are on life support from exhaustion so maybe Coach Christian will just let the walk-ons play this one and rest everyone else for the big dance. But they’ve come this far so let’s say #2 Duke is the opponent that made it out of the other semifinal. I could talk about Marvin Bagley and Wendell Carter and Duke’s dynamic offense but…really if BC has come this far? How can they not win out? BC and Duke met once during the regular season and I think we all recall how that went. See you at the trophy ceremony.