2006-07 Basketball Game Preview: Virginia Tech vs. Boston College

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Virginia Tech (18-8, 8-4 ACC) at Boston College (18-8, 9-4)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007, 7:00 p.m.

TV: ESPN


Special Preview Items:

One of the biggest ACC games of the season will take place in Blacksburg, VA
on Wednesday night. Virginia Tech meets Boston College in a game that will help
shake out the top of the ACC standings. BC whipped an emotionally flat Tech team
80-59 in Boston earlier in the season. The Hokies are capable of playing better,
and they’ll look to do so at home.

Right now, there are four teams in contention for the top seed in the ACC
tournament. UNC and UVA sit atop the conference, each sporting a 9-3 record. UNC
holds the tiebreaker over the Hoos. BC and VT are right behind them. BC is 9-4
in the ACC, while VT is 8-4. The Hokies hold the tiebreaker over UNC and have
earned at least a split with UVA. Tech will try to split the season series with
BC and knock the Eagles to five losses in conference play.

Both teams will be trying to get a win after their recent games. Boston
College lost consecutive home games to Duke and UNC last week. The Eagles were
blown out by Duke for most of the game, before rallying late to make the final
score a respectable 78-70. They followed that up by losing 77-72 to UNC on
Saturday night. Virginia Tech lost to hot-shooting NC State 81-56 on Sunday.

Boston
College Starting Lineup
Pos Name Ht Wt Year Pts Rebs

G

Tyrese Rice

6-1
190
So.
17.2 3.2

G

Sean Marshall

6-6
212
Sr.
15.1 4.7

F

Jared Dudley

6-7
225
Sr.
19.7 8.5

F

Shamari Spears

6-6
245
Fr.
8.1 5.6

F

John Oates

6-10
255
Jr.
4.6 3.7

Jared Dudley is one of the leading candidates for ACC Player of the Year. He is
a very tough matchup problem for almost any team. Dudley has the size and
strength to post up inside, but he also has the shot to beat you from the
outside. He is shooting 48.5% from three-point range on the season.

Dudley’s athleticism is just average. What stands him apart from other
players in the ACC is his strength and tenacity. He is one of the most
aggressive players around, and he plays with great emotion and effort.

Dudley’s
attributes are typical for the entire Boston College team, especially the
backcourt. Sean Marshall is a physical specimen at guard, and he plays with even
more emotion than Dudley. His emotions have also earned him the reputation as
one of the most hated players in the ACC. Marshall has a good mid-range jumper
and he can get to the basket. He’ll shoot a lot of three-pointers, but he’s just
33.9% on the season from the outside. Forcing him to take shots from the outside
would be advantageous for the Hokies.

Tyrese Rice isn’t the biggest guard by a long shot (6-1 is generous), but he
matches the toughness of Dudley and Marshall. He is very good at getting to the
glass and finishing over much bigger opponents. He isn’t a great three-point
shooter (31%), but he can knock down the open jumper with great effectiveness.

Boston College is not a very deep team. Four of their starters play 32.2
minutes per game or more. Tyrese Rice plays 35.7, and Dudley plays 38.1, which
is tops in the ACC. In ACC play only, Dudley and Rice lead the conference in
minutes played at 38.7 and 37.8 respectively. They are the most important
members of BC’s team, and if either one of them has an off night, the Eagles are
in trouble.

Against Duke, both players struggled, and the Eagles were run out of their
own gym for much of the night. Dudley managed just 11 points and four rebounds,
and he committed four turnovers while taking just five shots. Rice scored 22
points, but he had six turnovers. With both of those players executing poorly
and turning the ball over, Duke led by as many as 24 points in the second half.

Duke jumped out to a big lead because they put tremendous pressure on the
basketball, not allowing Boston College to get comfortable in their traditional
half court offense. If the Eagles are allowed to run their offense with no
pressure, they are very dangerous. However Tyrese Rice is their only true
ball-handler, and if he is forced to give up the ball in pressure situations,
you can make some good things happen.

Boston
College vs. Virginia Tech (ACC Games Only)

Category
Boston
College
Virginia
Tech
Stat ACC
Rank
Stat ACC
Ran
FG % 47.8% 3 46.8% 6
FG % Defense 46.2% 6 44.4% 4
3-Pt. % 34.2% 7 37.0% 3
3-Pt. % Defense 35.9% 9 32.9% 3
FT % 72.4% 4 71.6% 7
Rebounding Margin +2.4 4 -4.1 9
Turnover Margin -1.77 9 +1.75 3
Assist/TO Ratio 0.97 6 1.15 2
Scoring Offense 74.4 3 72.5 6
Scoring Defense 70.8 3 73.2 8
Averages 5.4 5.1

The Eagles do a very poor job of protecting the basketball, ranking ninth in
conference play in turnover margin. Virginia Tech did a poor job of using their
ball-handling to their advantage in the first meeting in Boston, losing the
turnover margin 11 to 9. This time, the Hokies have to pressure the passing
lanes and win the turnover margin.

Virginia Tech has won the turnover margin battle just twice since beating UNC
back in January, and they both came in losses to NC State. The last time Tech
won the turnover margin in a game they won was against UNC back on January 13.
This is a prime opportunity to reverse that trend. A team with just one primary
ball-handler is coming into Cassell Coliseum, and they’ve recently shown against
Duke that they can fold in the face of pressure, and the Blue Devil backcourt
isn’t as good as Virginia Tech’s.

BC’s major advantage over the Hokies is rebounding. The Eagles are big and
physical, and they like to crash the offensive glass. The Hokies need to be
ready physically from the get-go. Seth Greenberg mentioned on the Hokie Hotline
on Monday night that his starting lineup the rest of the season would depend on
who the Hokies were playing. On Wednesday, don’t be surprised to see Cheick
Diakite start. He is Tech’s most physical player, and they need someone to get
after BC from the opening tip.

Virginia Tech doesn’t have to win the rebounding war with BC. They just have
to keep it fairly close. Tech needs to grab some defensive rebounds and make the
Eagles pay for crashing the boards by pushing it up the court quickly. Not only
will Tech’s advantage in athleticism come into play, but it could tire depth-shy
BC as well.

The Hokies are capable of competing with BC on the glass. When the Hokies
beat UNC in the Dean Dome, they lost the rebounding battle by just two, 45-43.
Tech grabbed 15 offensive rebounds in that game by giving superb effort and
showing a lot of toughness. They need to match that intensity when they play
Boston College.

This is a big game for each team. The loser is likely eliminated from
contention for the top seed for the ACC tournament, and will probably be
destined to draw the fourth seed. The winner will keep going, and the ACC will
become a three-team race.

Bourbonstreet’s View

#26 RPI Boston
College
@ #25 RPI Virginia
Tech

The most mytharc season in Hokie hoops history continues this Wednesday night
inside the Cassell vs. the Boston College Flying Eagles. But will our
environmentally needy Hokies be up after having been totally beaten-down in last
Sunday afternoon’s game down in Raleigh against NC.State?

That’s not an easy question is it? Kinda like asking one’s self about
dividing by zero, the last digit of Pi, or who is Anna Nicole’s baby’s father?
But that won’t stop me, though B.C. might stop us.

Here’s how I’m looking at this game … B.C. is really an NC State clone,
only more so. State was tall and bothered the Hokies’ outside shoots, taking VT
out of its offensive flow. B.C. is taller than NC State, yet actually more
athletically gifted in their verticality. B.C. fields four starters standing 6-6
or better. This much size manifests itself in the fact that the Flying Eagles
are ranked 11th in D-1 in blocked shots on the year. NC.State had a lot of
starters who played a lot of minutes, but the B.C. starters play even more, as
only one Flying Eagle starter plays less than 32 minutes since Sean Williams
took a permanent leave of absence. By contrast, our Hokies only have one starter
who logs more than 32 minutes/game (Zabian Dowdell).

NC State was coming off three tough losses, while B.C. is coming off the
emotionally gutting ACC Big-2 stretch of having played and been beaten by Duke
and North Carolina in back-to-back home games. I’m finding it difficult to
foresee B.C. as being mentally sky-high for three straight games. Our team will
also have a little pay back on their minds after seeing Jared Dudley fanning
himself (because he was so hot from the floor) after he made his final shot for
a season high 30 points two and a half weeks ago up on Chestnut Hill. That was
creative, but it was also unnecessary and too provocative to go unanswered.

B.C. is indeed a bad match-up, but B.C. is a bit of a homer, as they are only
a 55% traveling team when it comes to winning games, whereas the Hokies are 92%
at home. Tech holds a +3 rebounding margin per game at home, and visitors only
shoot 59% from the charity stripe in the Cassell. Then there’s this little
nugget: B.C. is 38th in scoring offense.

So “yes”, B.C. is something of an NC State clone, but they are an up-tempo
NC State clone, and that’s your difference maker right there.

Virginia Tech 75 Boston College 74

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