Boston College at Virginia Tech
Boston College (8-16, 3-7) at Virginia Tech (13-11, 2-7), 6:00 PM, ESPNU
Just when you think Virginia Tech is out…well, the Hokies are still out. But when you think they’ve given up on the season and are too discouraged to keep fighting, they get a nice win. The Hokies still haven’t won more than one ACC game in a row, but they are 1-3 at home with losses only to Duke, North Carolina and Florida State. Boston College, meanwhile, has notched all three ACC wins at home and had perhaps the unlikeliest win of the ACC season with a 64-60 victory over FSU on Wednesday, a game the Eagles controlled throughout. The pesky Eagles won’t go away without a fight, but if Virginia Tech does fight it should win easily.
Stat to watch: The free-throw line. Boston College beat Virginia Tech in the first meeting on the strength of attempting 28 free throws, their second-most attempts this season. At home in league play, the Eagles average 19.8 free throw attempts (23.7 in three ACC wins, all at home) but on the road, the Eagles average just 7.8 attempts (in ACC losses, just 11.3 attempts). Virginia Tech has traditionally kept opponents off the foul line, but their ACC opponents have averaged 21 free-throw attempts and all but one have shot 67% or better from the line, which is just bad luck. But the 28 free-throw attempts the Hokies allowed BC to take in the first meeting are the second-most they’ve allowed in ACC play. After allowing Maryland to take 32, though, they’ve held Duke, Clemson and Miami to an average of just 16.7 attempts, which is a good start to limiting that.
Virginia Tech has traditionally relied on getting to the foul line, but not this team, and it hasn’t always helped when they do get there. They attempted an ACC-season high 28 free throws at Boston College and made 21, but scored just 59 total points. And since, the Hokies have attempted nine or fewer foul shots in three of its last six ACC games. That’s hard to imagine, but it’s somewhat a function of how bogged down their offense has become. They’ll need to be more active and get to the line, even though Boston College doesn’t always allow you to get there. Only three ACC teams (including Virginia Tech) have attempted 20 or more foul shots against the eagles, and in the last five games, BC’s opponents are averaging just 13.6 attempts. If the Eagles can keep the Hokies from getting easy points on the foul line, they could have a shot.
Most important players: Jordan Daniels, Boston College and Erick Green, Virginia Tech. Virginia Tech’s best player, Erick Green, missed the first game against Boston College. Of course, the Hokies have lost five of seven since that contest, but they don’t have a functional offense without him. Green has 25 straight games with 10 or more points, the longest streak among ACC players, despite how much his offense is sputtering. He has struggled some in recent games but he has somehow managed to shoot 40% or better in six of the eight ACC games he has played in. His biggest concerns are three-point shooting and his assist/turnover ratio. In the last three games, he has hit just 2-of-10 three’s and has three assists to six turnovers. In his first five league games, he hit 9-of-24 three’s and had 17 assists to five turnovers. He’s been carrying the load – he had 17 of Virginia Tech’s 49 points in a loss at Miami – but the Hokies at least need him to be more careful with the ball.
Jordan Daniels, meanwhile – wow. The freshman should be coming into this game with a ton of confidence, as he had a career-high 21 points against one of the best defenses in the nation (FSU) in BC’s upset win on Wednesday. Daniels was efficient, too: he did all that up just 21 shots, and he added five assists, three steals and one turnover in 36 minutes (also a career high). But as most freshmen are, Daniels is different on the road. He has averaged just 4.5 points on 29.2% shooting (25% from three) and has seven assists to seven turnovers in 23.3 minutes per game on the road in the ACC. But at home, he has averaged 10.5 points on 46% shooting (46.2% from three) and has 19 assists to eight turnovers in 28.3 minutes. At some point, Daniels is going to have to take his show on the road, if you will (see what I did there).
Random stat: Maybe if Virginia Tech had been able to knock off Boston College in the last few years, it would have made the NCAA Tournament. But the Hokies trail the all-time series with Boston College 7-14 and 5-8 since both joined the ACC in 2006. BC has won five of the last six and four in a row against the Hokies. But Virginia Tech leads the series 5-4 in Cassell Coliseum and the Hokies had won four straight at home until BC knocked off the Hokies in Blacksburg, 76-61, last year.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 65, Boston College 58
Last week: 10-2
Season: 106-37 (42-18 ACC)