Boston College at Georgia Tech
Boston College (7-15, 2-6) at Georgia Tech (8-14, 1-7), 1:00 PM, ESPNU
Who would have thought that Georgia Tech would have a worse ACC record at this point than Boston College? Many (including me) thought BC wouldn’t win an ACC game this year and if it did, it would be Wake Forest at home (which it lost). The young Eagles continue to fight, but they have three of their next four on the road and host Florida State after this game. The Yellow Jackets have played well in their last two losses, but the fact is they’ve lost seven straight and 11 of the last 12. At some point, it’s going to become discouraging. If it hasn’t already.
Stat to watch: Rebounding. Both teams have struggled with rebounding throughout the year, but both have shown some improvements recently. Georgia Tech was getting out-rebounded by 2.0 a game in its first four ACC games and opponents held a 43-40 edge on the offensive glass, outscoring them in second-chance points 39-37. In the last four games, of which it’s fair to say three have been closer than expected, Georgia Tech has out-rebounded opponents by 2.5 boards a game and holds a +4.0 edge on the offensive glass. Georgia Tech is outscoring opponents in second-chance points 50-36 in the last four games. Georgia Tech has improved its defensive rebounding percentage from 67.7% in the first four ACC games to a ridiculous 75.7% in the last four games. And that’s facing some pretty good rebounding teams in North Carolina and Florida State, too.
It’s good for a team struggling to score to be able to get some second looks, but Boston College doesn’t always allow many. The Eagles are actually fifth in defensive rebounding percentage in ACC games only and in the last two games, they have out-rebounded their opponents (Miami and N.C. State). Their defensive rebounding percentage has fallen some (down to 68.8% from 70.5%) but the Eagles are taking some chances on the offensive glass: their percentage has soared from 18% to 32.1% in the last two. And with the way their offense is struggling, why not attack the offensive boards a little more? Boston College’s ten second-chance points against N.C. State were its most since December 18th.
Most important players: Brandon Reed, Georgia Tech and Lonnie Jackson, Boston College. Reed is a high-volume shooter (7.4 attempts in 24 minutes a game) and for the first time in awhile, some actually went in at Florida State on Wednesday. He had been in a shooting slump the likes of which it’s hard to imagine: in the Yellow Jackets’ last 11 games, he had shot 22-of-77 (28.6%) from the floor and 9-of-33 (27.3%) from three. He was even worse in ACC play, shooting 8-of-37 (21.6%) from the floor and 3-of-17 (17.6%) from three. But he caught fire against Florida State with 18 points (a season-high) on 5-of-10 shooting and 4-of-8 from three. It tied his most three’s made in a game and was his best shooting performance percentage-wise since December 10th against Savannah State. Particularly with Glen Rice, Jr. out indefinitely with turf toe, the Yellow Jackets need him to score.
Jackson is intriguing: when he showed potential early in the season, BC head coach Steve Donahue quickly trusted him with a lot more minutes and he hasn’t looked back. And every statistic has gone up for Jackson in ACC play after the non-conference, except for his shooting (down from 45.2% to 33.3%) and his three-point shooting (down to 32.4% from 46.4%). But he’s playing more (30.9 minutes compared to 23.3) which explains some of that, and his improvement in other areas makes up for it. He’s scoring more points (8.5 to 7.1 pre-conference) because he’s getting to the foul line more, over 3.0 times a game in league play. And he’s averaging 2.6 assists and 1.4 steals in ACC play compared to 1.8 assists and less than a steal out of conference.
Random stat: Georgia Tech has lost five in a row at home (one at the Arena in Gwinnett against Mercer and now four in a row in Philips Arena). Georgia Tech’s longest losing at home streak prior to this one was in 1981 when Georgia Tech lost 10 in a row at home. The Yellow Jackets did have a win against Division II Newberry sandwiched into those ten straight home losses, but even if you start a new losing streak after that win, they lost their 13 final games of that season and seven of those were at home.
Prediction: Georgia Tech 68, Boston College 61
Last week: 12-0
Season: 96-31 (32-12 ACC)