2005-06 Basketball Game Preview: Virginia Tech vs. #15 Boston College

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Virginia Tech (12-9, 2-6 ACC) vs. #15 Boston College (16-5, 4-4)

Saturday, February 4th, 2006, 7:00 pm

TV: none

Special Preview Items:

The Virginia Tech men’s basketball team has won two games in a row without
leading scorer and rebounder Coleman Collins, and they will try to make it three
on Saturday night when they host #15 Boston College. With two victories over
Wake Forest and Georgia Tech, the Hokies have climbed out of the ACC cellar and
hope to continue their climb against a talented BC team.

Boston College is a very good team that was ranked highly last season and
expected to do big things in the ACC this year. They got off to a very
disappointing 0-3 start in conference play, but have rallied to pull their
conference record to an even 4-4. The Eagles lost to Duke 83-81 on Wednesday
night and stand at 16-5 overall. Barring an unforeseen collapse down the
stretch, they are an NCAA Tournament team without a doubt.

The Hokies are quite a bit smaller than Boston College, but that is no
different than just about any other team Virginia Tech plays. Tech is without
Coleman Collins, and they have gone with a perimeter oriented offense in his
absence. It is possible that Chris Tucker or Cheick Diakite could earn a
starting position, but Tucker is limited athletically and Diakite is
inexperienced, so it won’t make much difference if that is the case.

The Eagles have started the same five players for all 21 games this season.
They have a lot more size than the Hokies. Here is a comparison of the probable
starting lineups:

BC
Starters
VT
Starters

Name

Pos.

Height

Weight

Name

Pos.

Height

Weight

Louis Hinnant

G

6-4
190
Jamon Gordon

G

6-3
200

Sean Marshall

G

6-6
212
Zabian Dowdell

G

6-3
200

Jared Dudley

F

6-7
225
Wynton Witherspoon

F

6-7
185

Craig Smith

F

6-7
250
Deron Washington

F

6-7
195

John Oates

F

6-10
255
A.D. Vassallo

F

6-6
213
BC Average
6-6.8
226.4 VT Average
6-5.2
198.6

That’s a big starting lineup for the Eagles, but it won’t stay quite that
big for most of the game. Oates only plays 12.5 minutes per game in ACC play,
and when he goes out BC gets smaller. Craig Smith, Jared Dudley and Sean
Marshall all slide up a position, and freshman guard Tyrese Rice, from
Chesterfield, VA, enters the game. That gives the Eagles a somewhat smaller
lineup, but they are still big down low.

The frontcourt duo of Jared Dudley and Craig Smith is a candidate for the
best in the ACC and is probably the best in Boston College history. Smith is
averaging 17.5 points and 8.6 rebounds per game. In ACC play those numbers jump
to 19.8 points and 9.8 rebounds. He is a load to handle underneath. His 50
assists is an impressive stat for a center, and it shows that his teammates do a
good job of getting open and slicing towards the basket when he gets the ball.

Jared Dudley is also very good. He is a versatile player who can play both
forward positions. He can play with his back to the basket or he can drive from
the perimeter. He is one of the top players in the ACC, averaging 16.9 points
and 6.3 rebounds per game. Another impressive stat from the duo of Smith and
Dudley is that they lead Boston College in steals. Smith has 29 on the season
while Dudley has 27.

Boston College doesn’t have one player who takes a lot of three-pointers,
but they have a number of guys who are capable. Louis Hinnant has taken 50
threes on the season and hit 22 of them for 44%. Sean Marshall shoots 41.6%,
while Tyrese Rice hits at a 38.5% clip. Dudley is also capable of stepping out
and hitting the outside shot. He is a 29.4% shooter from downtown.

But those numbers have dropped since ACC play has begun. Hinnant has hit
12-of-21 three-pointers in conference play, but no other player on the team is
shooting more than 35.7% from three-point range. Look for the Hokies to collapse
the inside and try to make the Eagles beat them from the outside.

Despite their size and skill on the inside, Boston College is not as good a
rebounding team as their physical appearance makes them appear. They have a
rebounding margin of 0 in ACC play. They average 31.6 rebounds per game, and
their opponents average 31.6 as well. Craig Smith and Jared Dudley are excellent
rebounders, but they don’t get much production from the reset of the team.
Those two players combine for over half of the team’s rebounds.

BC ranks dead last in defensive rebounding in ACC play, probably because
their field goal percentage defense is so poor. Opponents shoot at a high clip
against the Eagles. They rank last in the ACC in this category at 47.7%. Their
three-point defense is downright atrocious. Opponents are shooting 46% from
downtown against the Eagles. Only one other ACC team (Wake Forest) allows
opponents to shoot better than 40% from the outside.

Boston College is a good shooting team, thanks to the ability of Craig Smith
and Dudley down low. They rank fourth in shooting percentage in ACC play at 46%.
However they are only ninth in three-point shooting at 35.6%.

You’ll probably be surprised at the next stat. Virginia Tech ranks in the
middle of the pack, seventh to be exact, in field goal percentage in ACC play.
The Hokies shoot 42.9% from the field, and that is better than Wake Forest,
Maryland, Miami, Virginia and Clemson. VT is barely behind sixth place Georgia
Tech.

In turnover margin, the Hokies have the advantage because they are first in
the conference, but Boston College is good as well. Virginia Tech is +6.25 in
turnover margin, while Boston College comes in at +2.62.

For the Hokies to win this game, they will need to shoot the ball well.
Judging from Boston College’s defensive numbers, Tech will get a lot of good
looks at the basket. They need to take advantage of them. They also need to
crash the boards as hard as possible. This is a tough matchup for the Hokies,
but with their physical limitations, every game is a tough matchup. That didn’t
stop them from outfighting Wake Forest and defeating Georgia Tech. If they do
some of the same things on Saturday night, they have the chance to beat Boston
College.

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