2009-2010 Basketball Game Preview: Boston College at Virginia Tech

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(home games)
  • Date: Saturday, January 22, 2010
  • Time: 1:30pm
  • TV: Raycom

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After taking most of the week off, Virginia Tech finally returns to action on
Saturday when they meet the Boston College Eagles in Cassell Coliseum. The
Hokies are looking to hold serve at home, because a home loss could send their
already low RPI spiraling out of control. Fortunately for Tech, this is by no
means the strongest BC team they have ever faced.

The Eagles are 11-8, with a 2-3 record in ACC play. BC has defeated Miami
twice, including this past week on the road, coming back from 17 points
down in the second half. In their other ACC games against Clemson, Duke and
Maryland, they have lost by an average of 17 points.

BC also struggled with their non-conference games, with embarrassing home
losses to Harvard and Maine. However, they have also defeated Top 100 teams such
as South Carolina and Providence. The Eagles have the talent to play very well
at times, but they also have a thin margin for error.

Boston College Starting Lineup

Pos. Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG
Biko Paris
6-1 200 Jr. 6.5 2.6
Rakim Sanders
6-5 228 Jr. 10.4 3.7
Joe Trapani
6-8 228 Jr. 15.2 6.8
Corey Raji
6-6 218 Jr. 11.8 6.8
Josh Southern
6-10 248 Jr. 6.1 4.3

Joe Trapani is BC’s best player. He’s a dangerous inside-out guy. He scores
around the basket, and has impressive athleticism. He’s one of the better
dunkers in the ACC, but he’s also a 35.5% three-point shooter while tying for
the team lead in rebounding. Trapani is a quality overall player, and the Hokies
need to limit him, particularly on the glass.

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Corey Raji is an outstanding offensive rebounder. Of his 115 rebounds this
year, 66 of them have been offensive boards. He’s a bit undersized to play in
the post however, so his numbers have dropped in ACC play. In conference games,
Raji is averaging 8.6 points and 5.2 rebounds, and his shooting percentage has
taken a significant dip as well.

The Eagles really need Rakim Sanders to step up. Sanders is a big guard who
is capable of scoring, but he missed much of BC’s non-conference schedule with
an ankle injury. He is just now rounding into basketball shape, and his ankle is
still probably not 100% healthy. Sanders is averaging 10.4 points per game, but
he is shooting just 35.5% from the field and 28.6% from three-point range.

In ACC play, things have been even tougher on Sanders. In his four conference
games, his shooting percentage has dipped to 26.1% from the field and just 11.8%
from three-point range. He’s averaging just seven points per game, and his
confidence level probably isn’t very high right now. Boston College needs him to
get going, because they are a much better team with Sanders playing well.

Josh Southern is BC’s wide-bodied center. He only plays 18 minutes per game,
and he’s not particularly athletic, but he is one of the ACC’s biggest players.
The Eagles can also go with a small lineup, sliding Joe Trapani down into the
post and taking Southern out of the game.

BC could also start Reggie Jackson (6-3, 200, So.) at either guard spot.
Jackson is a good scorer, averaging 13.6 points per game, which is second on the
team. In conference play he is actually leading the team in scoring, averaging
15.6 points. Jackson is a versatile offensive player. He can knock down the open
jumper, he can beat defenders off the dribble to get to the basket, and he’s
also good from midrange. If he doesn’t start against Virginia Tech on Saturday,
he’ll likely be the first player off the bench.

Biko Paris is a competent player who does a solid job running the point, but
he’s not a big scoring threat. He is also averaging over three turnovers per
game in conference play.

The Eagles have a three-point specialist in former Virginia Tech
recruiting target Tyler Roche (6-7, 218, Sr.). Roche is at Boston College for
one reason: to hit jumpers. He is shooting 40.8% from the outside this season.

Overall however, this isn’t a very good shooting team. In fact, the Eagles
find themselves near the bottom of the conference standings in many categories.

BC ranks either 10th, 11th or 12th in all four major offensive categories:
scoring, field goal percentage, three-point percentage and free throw
percentage. They’ll be facing a Virginia Tech team that has been very good
defensively this year. The Hokies have allowed just 51.8 points per game in
Cassell Coliseum this year, and only one team has scored more than 66 points
against Tech in Cassell.

in Conference Play
Category Stat ACC

Scoring Off.
62.4 12 10

Scoring Def.
71.8 8 4

40.3% 11 12

FG% Def.
47% 12 6

23.2% 12 4

3Pt.% Def.
34.2% 10 2

65.6% 10 11

Rebounding Margin
+2 4 7

Turnover Margin
-2.4 11 2

Assist/TO Ratio
1.0 4 9

9.4 6.7

That’s a major advantage in Tech’s favor, but the big question is whether or
not they’ll be able to take advantage on the offensive end. The Hokies are
actually below the Eagles in two offensive categories. Tech is the only team in
the ACC to shoot less than 40% from the field in conference games (38.9%), and
they are also just behind BC in free throw shooting. Tech is also 10th in
scoring average. However, they are fourth in three-point shooting thus far, and
the Eagles have been just as bad defensively as they have been offensively.

The one major advantage the Hokies have over BC is in turnovers. Tech is
excellent with the basketball, and they also get their hands in the passing
lanes and force turnovers. BC on the other hand has struggled to retain
possession this year. With a struggling offense, the Eagles have to maximize
their possessions, and they haven’t been doing that.

With Jeff Allen, the Hokies have an advantage in skilled talent on the inside
as well. Florida State wasn’t a great matchup for Allen, but BC is. He has
dominated the Eagles on the inside throughout his entire career.

Allen vs. BC
Date Points Rebounds

Jan. 31, 2009
23 11

Jan. 17, 2009
30 9

Feb. 26, 2008
13 10

22 10

Those are some big time numbers. Particularly impressive was Allen’s 30 point
performance against BC in Blacksburg last season in which he went 11-of-16 from
the field, while also finishing with nine rebounds, three blocks, three steals
and two assists.

BC does have some height on the inside with Southern, but he plays less than
half the game on most nights, and he’s not athletic enough to guard Allen.
Overall, this could be Virginia Tech’s best inside matchup in ACC play this

Allen desperately needs to get things rolling for the Hokies. In three
conference games, he’s averaged just seven points and 6.7 rebounds. If Tech
wants to seriously contend for an at-large berth in the NCAA tournament, they
need better production from their best inside player. With a good matchup this
weekend, it’s a perfect time for Allen to get it going.

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