The Virginia Tech Hokies suffered a disappointing 19-point loss at #9 North Carolina on Thursday in a game that wasn’t that close, but return home for one of only two home games in the midst of this eight-game stretch that includes 6 road games to take on the only ACC team with an overall record below .500, the Boston College Eagles.
Boston College failed to win a single ACC game last year but has won 2 so far this season and while they are the least talented team in the ACC by far, BC plays with a chip on their shoulder and never goes down without a fight similar to how the Hokies were in year 1 of the Buzz Williams era when the talent level was behind the rest of the ACC.
Boston College has had some struggles on the road in ACC play with their one-point loss at Miami this past week being their first road loss by single digits in ACC play. Tonight presents a big challenge for the Eagles going into what will be a hostile environment at Cassell Coliseum that will be eager to win a game that the Hokies know they can’t afford to lose given the opponent and location, even if the Hokies are safely away from the bubble right now.
Boston College is built on their duo of young guards in Jerome Robinson and Ky Bowman who are the only two BC players averaging double-figures and 2 of only 3 averaging at least 8 points per game (AJ Turner is the other at 9.7 points per game). Both Robinson and Bowman are also averaging over a steal per game, but the duo has also had a big turnover issue with Robinson and Bowman averaging over 3 turnovers per game including Bowman averaging 3.1 turnovers in only 26.2 minutes per game.
One big matchup will come at the point between Bowman and either Justin Robinson or Seth Allen with Robinson likely to be defending Bowman more in this game. Bowman has been inconsistent at times as he had 33 points against North Carolina but also had a total of 20 points in the other 3 of BC’s past four games.
Robinson has proven to be a nuisance on the defensive end in the past along with someone who finds a way to impact the game beyond the stats including his tough defensive play. Robinson is someone who could be a difference maker in this game and if he can limit Ky Bowman in this matchup, it’ll make things much more difficult on Boston College.
Boston College has some size and isn’t a bad rebounding team, but is pretty even in the rebounding category with the Hokies as both teams around 35 to 36 rebounds per game while the Eagles’ leading rebounders are Connor Tava and Mo Jeffers who both average only 5.9 rebounds per game.
This frontcourt matchup creates a big opportunities for guys like Chris Clarke and Zach LeDay to have strong games crashing the boards as the did against Georgia Tech when the pair had a combined 7 offensive rebounds and the Hokies won the offensive rebounding battle 9 to 5 with their extra chances proving to be critical in the end.
Clarke and LeDay will be ready to be physical and while BC has the size advantage, Clarke and LeDay could cause some problems while BC not having as much size as UNC could help guys like Ty Outlaw, Ahmed Hill, and even Justin Robinson have better days rebounding the basketball.
Seth Allen has been playing some of the best basketball of his career recently averaging 17.3 points over his past four games with tonight being another big opportunity for Allen to have a big game against a young Boston College team. No one should be surprised if Allen has another big game scoring the basketball especially with him shooting the ball at career high levels from the field and beyond the arc this season.
Free-throw shooting could also widen the gap as Boston College has shot a poor 67.3% from the line and goes to a tough place to shoot free throws at while the Hokies are only 70.6% from the line but have shot better from the charity stripe in a couple recent games as they went 12-for-16 against GT and 16-for-17 at Clemson. Virginia Tech also usually is better at shooting from the free-throw line at home while young, inexperienced teams like Boston College haven’t done as well from the line.
The talent gap is significant and while there is the temptation to overlook this game for Wednesday’s rivalry game in Charlottesville, Buzz Williams will have his team dialed in for this matchup. Jerome Robinson may have a strong game, but the Hokies will force their fair share of turnovers against a BC team that averages around 16 turnovers per game, giving the Hokies plenty of transition opportunities.
At the end of the day, the talent gap is too big while poor free-throw shooting and a high turnover rate for Boston College will allow the Hokies to open this game up and cruise to a comfortable victory over a young Boston College team.