Virginia Tech at Boston College
Virginia Tech (11-5, 0-2) at Boston College (6-10, 1-1), 3:00 PM, RSN/ESPN3
This about as must-win as it gets for Virginia Tech. Boston College is barely two days removed from an unexpected win over Clemson and Virginia Tech has been off since Tuesday. If Virginia Tech is not going to go in the tank the rest of the ACC season, it absolutely has to win this game, preferably convincingly. But Boston College is a young team that seemingly gains confidence with every game. This is a game that looked a lot more certain for the Hokies a week ago.
Stat to watch: Three-point shooting. Tech Hoops broke down Virginia Tech’s three-point shooting, and it’s pretty daunting: the Hokies are 1-4 this year when shooting a worse percentage from three than their opponents and 10-1 when shooting better. Even in the Hokies’ last 18 ACC games dating back to last year, it holds true: they are 0-8 when opponents shoot better from three and 10-0 when they shoot better. The Hokies were shooting 38% from three entering league play and in just two games, their overall percentage is already down to 36%. They have shot just 8-of-34 (23.5%) in ACC play in two close losses. Their 2-of-12 performance against Florida State was a season-low.
Boston College’s offense revolves around the three-pointer, and will as long as Steve Donahue is the head coach. In the last six games, BC has shot 38.5% from three compared to 31.7% in the first ten. The 42.1% mark against Clemson was their third-best this year. And maybe it’s luck, but BC’s three-point defense has held ACC opponents to 10-of-33 (30.3%) after allowing 34.3% in the non-conference. Whichever team is shooting three’s better should win this one, and lately, that team has been Boston College.
Most important players: Dorenzo Hudson, Virginia Tech and Matt Humphrey, Boston College. Hudson has been invisible so far this ACC season – and most of the entire season – for Virginia Tech. He had been coming back to form in Virginia Tech’s last four non-conference games, averaging 14.3 points on 47.5% shooting. But in his first two ACC games, he has averaged just 8.0 points on 26.1% shooting (0-of-7 from three). Considering he’s taken 23 of Virginia Tech’s 117 shots in league play (and seven of their 34 three’s), things would get a lot easier for the Hokies if he could start making some.
Matt Humphrey earned his way back into BC’s starting lineup after scoring 14 at North Carolina, just his second double-figure effort since November. In the last three games, he has shot 12-of-24 (50%) and 6-of-14 from three (42.9%). It’s not that outstanding, but prior to that he had shot 39-of-134 (29.1%) and 27.8% from three. BC absolutely needs him to be a consistent scorer, and he has been lately. Perhaps the best part of his recent improvement is that he’s facilitating more for others: eight of his 23 assists this season have come in the last three games.
Random Stat: Virginia Tech hasn’t started 0-3 in ACC play since 2006 when the Hokies went 14-16 overall and 4-12 in conference. The Hokies lost their first three games that season to Duke, Florida State and North Carolina by a combined 11 points. Their 12 league losses that season came by an average of 5.6 points; just two were by double digits. Sadly, this season has paralleled that one in that the Hokies’ first two losses have come by a total of seven points.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 72, Boston College 65
Last week: 6-3 (4-2)
Season: 68-24 (7-5)