Boston College Heads To Blacksburg

JB McCandlesCorrespondent IJanuary 21, 2010

CHESTNUT HILL, MA - FEBRUARY 17: Rakim Sanders #15 of the Boston College Eagles heads for the basket as Mamadi Diane #24 of the Virginia Cavaliers defends on February 17, 2008 at Alumni Stadium in in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. Virginia defeated Boston College 79-74.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

Boston College is coming off an impressive and much needed road win at Miami and is hoping to bring that type of play with them to Blacksburg when they take on the 15-3 Virginia Tech Hokies. 

The Eagles now find themselves headed into a very tough patch of games. After Saturday's showdown with Virginia Tech, BC will play host to Florida State, Clemson and Duke. Duke and Clemson handled BC with ease in the first meetings. BC will hit the road to take on the always tough Wake Forest, followed by another matchup with FSU. 

It's not easy to say that this will be the Eagles toughest stretch of the season because it's the ACC and there are no given games, especially when a team like BC is one of the lesser teams in the league.

Virginia Tech hasn't played the toughest schedule, but they have beaten the teams that they were supposed to, which is something BC has failed to do. Regardless of this, I think Virginia Tech has put themselves in a good spot. 

There are three Virginia Tech players to watch. Of course Malcolm Delaney, the incendiary junior guard who is averaging close to 20 points and 4 assists on the season.

But a guy that has made the biggest footprint in this series has been Jeff Allen. Allen has scored 53 points and grabbed 20 boards in just two meetings verse the Eagles last year. Allen has struggled with consistency, mainly against some of the teams that offer more size down low...that is a major problem for the Eagles.

Also, Dorenzo Hudson has been on an absolute tear. He is averaging over 15 points per game. He and Allen both won ACC player of the week last month respectively.  

Boston College and Virginia Tech have very similar teams; they aren't beasts down low, but they also don't have true perimeter threats. The one exception down low is Jeff Allen of Virginia Tech. They both rely on solid half court defense and shoot threes by committee. They are two very balanced teams that can run or play half court if they need to.

A key stat to remember in this one is that Virginia Tech is a perfect 9-0 at home. They haven't exactly played any world beaters at home, but again the Hokies have done everything that they are supposed to at this point.

All notes aside, Virginia Tech is definitely one of the most underrated atmospheres in the ACC. The Hokies have won around 70 percent of their ACC home games since joining the league. 

The Hokies have some clear cut advantages in this game. Their home court will play large, Jeff Allen has been an animal against BC, and they have given BC their share of problems over the past few years winning 4 of the last 5 meetings against the Eagles.

Back to BC...It's been a strange season to say the least for the Eagles. Suspensions and injuries plagued this team early on, but resume building wins at Providence, Michigan, and Miami (twice), followed by disastrous home losses to Maine, St. Joes, and Harvard. It's hard to paint a picture on this team, but the talent is there. 

BC hardly seems to play at their level. They have either played below (Maine) or above their level (South Carolina). Junior forward Joe Trapani has become the go to guy for Eagles. He is averaging 15 points and 7 rebounds a game. Reggie Jackson and Cory Raji are also significant contributors, while Rakim Sanders, who missed majority of the non conference season with an injury, has been wildly inconsistent.

Sanders was advertised as the team’s best player at the start of the season has yet to get back into game shape and it's evident in his poor play of late. Still Sanders is averaging 10 points a game.

BC goes to their tight flex offense that relies on patience in hopes of getting layups, but the Eagles lack of size has really hurt them all year. 

There has been a lot of talk surrounding coach Al Skinner. Many want to see him go, but last Tuesday's win at Miami may have won many hearts back from the BC faithful. Skinner has been scrutinized the past few weeks by fans, but BC has made it clear that Skinner is their guy.

This should be a very exciting game. BC and Virginia Tech split the season series last year, but in their loss to BC, Virginia Tech was left heartbroken after this .

For Virginia Tech to win this ball game, they will need a typical game from Malcolm Delaney and Dorenzo Hudson. They will also need Allen to play big because he has a clear size advantage over BC. Virginia Tech will need help from their sixth man, the raucous Hokie crowd. Remember the Hokies are 9-0 at home this season. Keep in mind, Virginia Tech has been outrebounded in all three of their losses this season.

For the Eagles, they will need to slow this game down and try to control the crowd. Southern and Dunn will need to stay out of foul trouble. BC will need multiple guys in double figures, i.e. Trapani, Jackson, Sanders, and Raji.

BC will need to come up big on the glass and slow down Jeff Allen. I wouldn't be surprised to see Trapani on Allen. Everyone knows what decides BC's fate. When they play D, they win, when they don't they lose. BC held Miami to 34 percent shooting in the second half and in turned out to be the difference. 

I’m liking the Eagles in this one. Although they have struggled of late I really liked what I saw in the second half against Miami. A BC win might prove that the tides are turning this season for BC.

Keep in mind, Virginia Tech hasn't defeated a team ranked in the top 50 of ratings (possession based stats), but they are undefeated against teams outside the top 50. Boston College is ranked 77th. Tipoff is 1:30 this Saturday.