Date/Time: Jan. 5 12 pm
Opponent: Boston College
Site: Cassell Coliseum, Blacksburg, VA
Radio: Virginia Tech IMG Sports Network
Talent: Jon Laaser and Mike Burnop
Talent: Evan Lepler & Brian Oliver
Live Stats: HokieSports.com
Game Notes: Virginia Tech
Sirius: 99 XM: 203 Internet: 964
Look for this game on your local channels.
Win those you Should
Buzzketball takes on its second ACC opponent in the comfy confines of Cassell. This should be a fairly packed game against a rather overmatched conference opponent. The Eagles are one of the feel good stories of the ACC so far this season with their 9-3 out of conference performance but there is a major difference between feel good and talented enough to win in Blacksburg. While no conference opponent can be overlooked, this should not be a game that the Hokies allow to remain close. The Hokies absolutely have to win this game to keep itself in the current rankings posture as the Eagles are not good enough to strengthen the Hokies schedule much if the Hokies take a loss.
This will be the Thirty First meeting between the Hokies and Eagles. Boston College leads the all-time series 18-12. The Hokies have won the last four matchups. The Eagles at 9-3 have wins over Milwaukee, St Francis of Brooklyn, Wyoming, Loyola-Chicago, Minnesota, Colombia, Fairfield, Sacred Heart and Depaul. They have two really bad losses, one to IUPUI and the second to Hartford for the second time in three years. The only other loss is to Providence which is understandable with where this program stands.
The Eagles are coached by Jim Christian, who has been at Boston College since 2014. The Eagles are 57-86 under Christian, who is now 299-240 as a Head coach with other stops at Ohio, TCU and Kent State. This last season they reached the post season for the first time under Christian, finishing 19-13 after an appearance in the NIT.
Defensively, the Eagles rely on pressure to limit opponents, mostly in a man to man approach. He is big on help defense, especially in crashing the lane. Coach Christian relies on assertive defense with hands up in the passing lanes looking to disrupt opponent's game plan. His teams are usually top 50 in defensive efficiency. Boston College is currently holding opponents to 31% shooting from behind the arc but struggles more inside where opponents are hitting almost 45% of their shots. They do rebound fairly well which limits second chance opportunities. They are well disciplined, and do not foul often or allow much in the way of transition baskets.
Offensively, Boston College has made significant strides. They rarely turn the ball over, currently 34th in the nation. Coach Christian favors more traditional looking motion offense, utilizing multiple bigs more than a four guard set on the outside. If Tech goes to a zone, expect to see Nik Popovic at the top of the key controlling the attack against the zone.
It is now the Ky Bowman show now that Robinson has moved on the NBA, (#0) 6'1, 182 Lbs Junior Guard comes in averaging 20.9 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 3.5 APG and 1.6 SPG. He is shooting 34% from outside, and 83% at the free throw line. He is better known for his quick first step and ability to drive inside. So far on the season he is shooting better than 50% inside the arc. Another thing on Bowman, he is the kind of offensive player that one night he will disappear with only 10 point but then the occassional TYRONE kind of night like the loss to Hartford where he scored 44.
Wynston Tabbs (#5) 6'2, 193 Lbs Freshman averaging 14.6 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 3 APG and 1.2 SPG. He is shooting 34% from behind the arc and 45% overall. Tabbs has been nothing short of phenomenal so far for the Eagles. He has stepped right in and replaced the majority of Robinson's production from years past.
Jordan Chatman, (#25) 6'5, 190 lbs Senior Guard is averaging 12.6 PPG, 2.3 RPG, and 1.2 APG. He is almost strictly an outside shooter for the Eagles which is not a good thing so far this season for the Eagles since he is only hitting 31%. He is a terrific free throw shooter hitting from the line at an 84% clip. Chatman is on the floor so much though for his defensive abilities. His long arms and aggressive play make him an ideal player to guard athletic wings. Expect to see him match up with NAW quite often. One thing the Hokies need to be wary of though is Chatman went 9 for 11 from beyond the arc in his last game at Cassell as many fans will remember.
Chris Herren Jr, (#4) 6'3, 174 Lbs, is the third Freshman contributing important minutes to the Eagles so far this season. He is averaging 5.7 PPG, 1.4 RPG, and 1 APG. Herren is the only Eagle shooting better than 40% from outside so far this season, something the Hokies should be prepared for.
Nik Popovic, (#21) 6'11, 243 Lbs Junior Forward from Bosnia. He is averaging 13.7 PPG, 7.5 RPG and 1 APG. He comes in shooting 62% from the inside the perimeter and 63% of his free throws. He still experiences foul trouble at almost 2.6 per game. If he can stay out of foul trouble, expect the Eagles to utilize his size quite often against the Hokies.
Jairus Hamilton, (#1), 6'8, 234 Lbs Freshmen Forward is averaging 6 PPG, 5.3 RPG, and 1 APG. He is the second of three freshman contributing important minutes to the Eagles this season. He is playing about 20 MPG so far.
Steffon Mitchell, (#41), 6'8, 222 Lbs, Sophomore Center is averaging 5.8 PPG, 9.1 RPG and 2.1 APG across 31 MPG playing time. He shoots about 53% from the inside and only 59% at the free throw line.
What to expect from Boston College?
The Eagles rely on a rotation of eight to ten players with a renewed focus this year of getting to the basket, as they only hit about 5 three pointers per game. This is a much different offense than most the Hokies have seen this season. One area they must be careful of is to avoid reach in fouls as the Eagle guards drive into the paint. The Eagles force opponents into 20+ fouls per contest so far this season albeit against mostly inferior defensive skillsets. This also contributes to the almost 25 free throw attempts per contest the Eagles are currently averaging.
Boston College has five players that average more than 2 fouls per game and against much less athletic, aggressive offensive players than the Hokies bring to the floor. If that happens today, they will be forced to rely more on their bench players which would be a huge boost for the Hokies. Scoring goes down, talent goes down, and pressure goes up.
The Eagles will look to expose weaknesses in the lane. Don't be surprised to see quite a few alley oops or high lobs over the top to a big under the basket for an easy score after initial dribble drive penetration by a guard. This will usually be with Popovic in the game, so getting him in foul trouble could simplify things on both ends of the court.
Tech needs to drive inside to get fouled. Controlled drives right at Nik Popovic. They need to disrupt the BC offense that relies so heavily on having at least two bigs on the court at any point and time. Early foul trouble could give the Hokies a window to work up a significant early lead.
The Hokies defensively need to prevent interior passing and also disrupt dribble penetration from the Boston College guards. They need to be aware of quite a few back door follow up drives by BC shooters. This is one of the games where Horne and his knack for shutting down the baseline could be very important as the Eagles use the baseline drive quite often.
Ahmed Hill and Ty Outlaw need to have a good day at the office tonight. Shooting from the arc needs to probably be around 45% for the Hokies to stretch a decent lead to a blowout. This could be one of the few ACC games where the bench gets involved.
Defensively, expect to see Bede matched up on Bowman, NAW on Chatman, Robinson on Tabbs, Outlaw or Hill on Mitchell/Hamilton, and Horne/Blackshear on Popovic.
Boston College is going to look to pound the paint either by pass or by drive. The Hokies have to find a way to keep the ball out of the interior. Expect to see a lot of 1-3-1 zone with Horne blocking his big counterparts from the front. This will be one of the only ACC teams the Hokies face with such a focus on scoring inside the perimeter. That said, the Hokies always have to be wary of letting someone get hot from outside the perimeter.
The offense has to be operating at a fluid clip. The Hokies should have mismatches at almost every position in terms of speed/talent on the offensive end so using that to their advantage and getting the Boston College bigs in foul trouble could play a key role in a Hokies win. They must also be cognizant of the open shooter outside as they penetrate the BC defense.
Hokies overcome some early sloppy play and win 85-71.
Around The ACC
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#9 Florida State at #4 UVA ESPN2 3PM – This should be a real test for the Wahoos.
Clemson at #1 Duke ESPN 8PM
Miami at Louisville ESPNU 6PM