Opening Round Preview: BC And Virginia Look To Advance To Quarterfinals

The 15-15 Boston College Eagles and the 14-15 Virginia Cavaliers kick off the 2010 ACC men’s basketball Tournament Thursday down in Greensboro, NC. The 8th seeded Eagles face the 9th seeded Cavaliers for the right to advance to the ACC Quarterfinals against top-seeded Duke.

The Eagles lost a bit of momentum in their regular season finale, falling to N.C. State at the RBC Center 66-54. BC went into the game with N.C. State winners of three of their last four games, including a win over Virginia.

As for Virginia, after a fast 3-0 start in conference play, the 'Hoos are on a season high 9 game losing streak. The Cavaliers enter the ACC Tournament having lost 9 straight ACC games and 11 of their last 13. In addition, UVA will be fighting an uphill battle as they will be without the services of leading scorer Sylven Landesberg, who has been suspended for the rest of the season due to academic issues (class attendance). Even without Landesberg, the Cavs showed some spark in their regular season finale, pushing Maryland to the limit in a 74-68 loss.

Not only will Virginia miss Landesberg, but they will also miss senior guard Calvin Baker. According to coach Tony Bennett, Baker will not travel with the team to Greensboro and will miss the rest of the regular season due to personal family reasons. A member of his family is ill and he is headed home to be with his family. Baker, a William & Mary transfer, averaged 3.0 points and 1.9 rebounds per game in 25 games.

In the only meeting between the two teams - that occurred a little over a week ago - the Eagles knocked off the Cavaliers 68-55. Corey Raji paced the Eagles with 18 points and 9 rebounds, while Mike Scott led the Cavaliers with 13 and 9. Landesberg also scored 13 in a losing effort. Virginia holds a two game edge in the all-time series, leading 6-4.

This season, it hasn’t been the offense that’s been a problem for BC. BC ranks fourth in the conference in offensive efficiency (100.7) and has received solid contributions from Joe Trapani (14.6 PPG), Reggie Jackson (12.7) and Corey Raji (11.6). Instead, the Eagles have struggled mightily on the defensive end, with a defensive efficiency rating good for 11th in the ACC. In contrast, Virginia ranks 11th in the ACC in offensive efficiency (96.6) and 8th in defensive efficiency (103.9).

In order for the Eagles to win, they'll need solid contributions from Trapani and Raji, and excellent PG play from Reggie Jackson. Getting Raji going, in particular, will be critical for the Eagles. Raji left the N.C. State game with a shoulder injury. Skinner says that Raji will miss a bit of practice this week but should be ready to play tomorrow. For Virginia, the Cavs will have to get F/C Jerome Meyinsse involved in the offense, exploiting the Eagles weakness down low. Meyinsse has scored in double figures in each of his last four games. Guards Jeff Jones and Sammy Zeglinski will also have to put together solid performances to lead the Cavs past the Eagles.

GAME NOTES: Boston College is 5-4 all-time in ACC Tournament play, and one of only three other teams with a winning record in Tournament play (along with Duke, North Carolina and N.C. State). Virginia is 30-54 all-time in tournament play, and 3-3 in the tournament’s first round. Virginia has won one ACC Tournament title in 1976.

FACTS & STATS: Site: Greensboro Coliseum (23,500) - Greensboro, North Carolina. Television: Raycom. Home Record: Boston College 11-6, Virginia 11-6. Away Record: Boston College 3-7, Virginia 2-8. Neutral Record: Boston College 1-2, Virginia 1-1. Conference Record: Boston College 6-10, Virginia 5-11. Series Record: Virginia leads the all-time series 6-4.

Thursday, March 11th, noon ET (Raycom)

(Unabashed homer) prediction: Boston College 65, Virginia 57


Brian Favat and Jeff Martyn write about the Boston College Eagles at BC Interruption.

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