2005-06 Basketball Game Preview: Virginia Tech at #12 Boston College

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Virginia Tech (14-14, 4-11 ACC) vs. #12 Boston College (23-6, 10-5)

Saturday, March 4th, 2006, 12:00 pm

TV: Raycom/J-P (check local listings)

Special Preview Items:

Virginia Tech will play their final regular season ACC basketball game on
Saturday afternoon when they travel north to take on #12 Boston College at noon.
The Hokies are coming off a tough loss to Clemson. Tech blew a seven point lead
late in the game and lost to the Tigers by five. The Hokies are 14-14 overall
and 4-11 in ACC play, and a loss to the Eagles would put them below the .500
mark for the first time this season.

Boston College has been playing very well lately. They have won seven of
their last eight games, including a 74-72 double overtime victory at NC State
last Saturday. The Eagles are 23-6 overall and 10-5 in the ACC. They defeated
Virginia Tech 74-73 on February 4. Zabian Dowdell missed a wide open
three-pointer at the buzzer that would have given the Hokies the upset win.

Boston College got off to a tough start in the ACC, dropping their first
three league contests. However they have lost just two games since then and
appear to be one of the league’s strongest teams heading into the conference
tournament. They also have one of the nation’s strongest frontcourts.

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 17.1 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. Smith is even better in ACC
play, where he averages 17.9 points and 9.7 rebounds. He is a load to handle
underneath. He has also recorded 77 assists this season, an incredibly high
number for a center. Smith is one of the best players in Boston College history,
so expect him to have a big game on his Senior Day. He had 12 points and seven
rebounds against Tech earlier in the year, and shot 6-of-6 from the field.

The other forward, Jared Dudley, hurt the Hokies badly in the first meeting,
scoring 26 points and grabbing seven rebounds. He scored 20 of his points in the
first half and hit the game winning free throws late in the game. Dudley is a
combo-forward, meaning he can play inside or outside. He is averaging 16.3
points and 6.8 rebounds on the season. He shoots 47.8% from the field and 32.4%
from three-point range.

Sean Williams doesn’t start for the Eagles, but he is a fearsome defender
on the inside. He missed the beginning of the season due to a suspension, but he
has appeared in 20 games and has blocked 38 shots. This is an impressive number
when you consider that he plays just 16.4 minutes per game. Williams averages
just three points per game, so he isn’t much of a threat on the offensive end.

Boston College won’t wow you with their outside shooting, but they are
capable. Louis Hinnant is a very good shooter, hitting 44.7% of his
three-pointers. In ACC play, that number goes up to 51.1%. He averages 7.1
points per game. Freshman guard Tyrese Rice has hit 39.8% of his tree-pointers
on the season, while Sean Marshall hits 36.8%. Marshall is BC’s third leading
scorer, averaging 12 points per game.

If you look at team statistics in ACC play, these teams are actually fairly
similar.

VT
vs. BC Matchups

Category
Virginia
Tech
Boston
College

Stat

ACC Rank

Stat

ACC Rank

Scoring Offense
68.8 11 70.8 7

Scoring Defense
71.9 5 69.5 2

FG Percentage
44.80% 7 45.80% 5

3-pt. Percentage
32.30% 10 36.20% 7

FT Percentage
64.40% 11 65.70% 10

FG % Defense
46.50% 10 54.10% 8

3-pt. Defense
38.90% 7 40.70% 10

Rebounding Margin
-4.3 10 +3.4 2

Turnover Margin
+5.07 1 +0.13 6

The Eagles are ahead of the Hokies in almost every category, but not by much.
If you look at just those statistics, Boston College doesn’t look any better
than a middle-of-the-pack ACC team. They make up for it by doing exactly the
opposite of what the Hokies do…win the close games. They are 8-3 in games
decided by six points or less, while Virginia Tech is just 3-10 in such games.
If Saturday afternoon’s game goes down to the wire, expect Boston College to
win.

The one thing that stands out about Boston College is that they don’t give
up a lot of points, yet they are a below average defensive team from percentage
standpoint. The Hokies enjoyed a good offensive game against BC earlier in the
year. Tech shot 28-of-56 from the field (50%), 6-of-14 from three-point range
(42.9%) and 11-of-15 from the free throw line (73.3%). That’s an awfully good
day for the Hokies, especially from three-point range and the free throw line.
Tech was able to get a lot of open looks against the BC defense.

The most important thing that the Hokies need to do is be physical. They can’t
play a finesse style of basketball against Jared Dudley (6-7, 225), Craig Smith
(6-7, 250), John Oates (6-10, 255) and Sean Williams (6-10, 230). They need to
be willing to put a shoulder into a bigger guy and box out. VT also needs to
have good help defense down low, and force Boston College to beat them from the
outside. If you give Jared Dudley and Craig Smith the opportunity to beat you,
they will.

With the recent loss to Clemson, Virginia Tech has to pull the upset against
Boston College to have any realistic chance at getting an NIT bid. A win on
Saturday, and a win in the first round of the ACC Tournament might be enough.
But to be guaranteed a bid, the Hokies need a deep run in Greensboro.

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