On Thursday, the Boston College athletic department released their 2016 schedule for the baseball program. Playing 55 games between February and May, the Eagles will look to improve upon last year's .500 finish and get back to the ACC Tournament for the first time since 2010.
The Eagles will open the season with a four game series against Northern Illinois that will be played at Camelback Ranch. The stadium, located in Glendale, Arizona, is the spring training joint home of the Chicago White Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Following the trip west, BC has a short turnaround before heading to Florida to play in the annual Snowbird Classic in Port Charlotte.
BC will play two series in the Snowbird Classic, segmented by their annual seven-inning exhibition with the Boston Red Sox. On February 27th, they'll play a doubleheader against Chicago State and Indiana State before playing Villanova on the 28th. That precedes the Leap Day game in Fort Myers against the Red Sox.
The Eagles will take a few days off before returning to action in Port Charlotte for five games in four days against Northwestern and North Dakota State (doubleheader), Ohio State, Butler, and Central Michigan. That leads right up to the ACC opening weekend when BC heads south to play NC State.
In total, Boston College will play 15 games (not including the Red Sox exhibition) before they have a scheduled home game on March 15th against Holy Cross. Butt he game against the Crusaders is the only home game and one of only two games played in Massachusetts - the other being a road game at Northeastern - before the end of March. That's when they'll take on UConn and host their first conference weekends - against Florida State and the defending national champion Virginia Cavaliers.
BC once again will host special edition weekends in support of both the Wounded Warrior Project and Lou Gehrig's Disease. Their Fourth Annual Wounded Warrior Project Game will be on Saturday, April 30th against Virginia Tech, while the Fifth Annual ALS Awareness Game will be against Wake Forest on May 7th.
The season opening road trip is typical of a New England program, which inevitably allows the school to play more home games towards the end of the year. BC will play 15 of its final 20 games at home, including series against Louisville, Virginia Tech, and Wake Forest.
In crossover divisional matchups this season, BC avoids two of the top three Coastal Division programs by not playing Miami (defending division champions) and North Carolina. But the Eagles will miss a series this year against Duke, who finished sixth in the Coastal by going 10-19 last season in conference play.
The top 10 teams in the ACC qualify for the conference tournament, with division winners receiving the top two seeds. Seeds 7-10 play single-elimination play-in games before reseeding for pool play. After a round robin between the two divisions, the two remaining teams play in the conference finals. For the second straight season, the ACC Championship will be played at Durham Bulls Athletic Park, the home of Duke and the Durham Bulls, a Triple-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays.
Although the division winners are automatically assured of the top two seeds, the remaining eight teams are decided by a single league standings. Last season, five teams from each division wound up qualifying for the league tournament based on league record, with Wake Forest and BC missing from the Atlantic Division and Duke and Pittsburgh missing from the Coastal Division. Of those ten teams, however, only Miami and Virginia qualified for the national tournament. All of the Atlantic Division teams that made the ACC Tournament qualified for the national field of 64.
From those seven teams, Virginia won the national championship (the second ACC team to win it all and first since Wake Forest in 1955). They were joined in Omaha by their Coastal Division partner Miami. From the Atlantic Division, Florida State and Louisville won their regionals - which they both hosted.
The records underscore both the challenge and the payoff of making the ACC Tournament. Among ACC teams that made their way to Durham, four games separated the final team in (Georgia Tech) from last place in the league. At the same time, the team finishing fifth in the Atlantic Division (NC State, five games ahead of BC) qualified for the national tournament. So while the ACC is one of the toughest leagues in the nation, finishing .500 or better in conference play may assure a team of a national tournament berth. That, in and of itself, may be easier said than done.
Last season, the Eagles finished 27-27, their best finish under Mike Gambino.
For the full schedule, click here. We will have full analysis of the schedule and opponents in the coming days.