Boston College Eagles
Good Wins: vs. North Carolina, vs. Virginia Tech, at Maryland
Bad Losses: at St. Louis, vs. Harvard
1. Tyrese Rice. Having a stellar point guard who can manage games with his experience has always been a recipe for NCAA Tournament success (not to mention success in general). Boston College has one in Rice. The senior is not putting up quite the same stats as he did last season (17.4 points and 5.4 assists in 2009-09), but he is also getting more help from his supporting cast. Rice has an ability to take over games; he hasn’t had to do it as much this year, but the win over UNC last season is a perfect example.
2. Taking care of the basketball. The Eagles turn it over 13.2 times per game, near the top of the Atlantic Coast Conference (trailing, not surprisingly, Duke). They don’t shoot it particularly well (especially from three-point range), so it’s important for them to get as many looks at the basket as possible.
3. Depth. Coach Al Skinner plays 10 different guys at least 10 minutes per game. Just like having the luxury of an experienced floor general, this is often a critical factor in NCAA Tournament success. Their depth could also help the Eagles make a run in the ACC Tournament, where they can all but clinch a spot in the Big Dance.
1. Three-point shooting. The Eagles have three players who can knock down shots from long distance—Rice, Joe Trapani, and Rakim Sanders. Trapani’s mediocre 36-percent average from three-point range, however, is tops on the team.
2. Picking Rice up when he’s off. As noted, Boston College is deep. Unfortunately, they are not deep behind Rice at the point-guard position. If their leader struggles, the Eagles often cannot come up with an answer in terms of scoring or running the show on offense.
The Eagles are prone to going on serious hot and cold streaks. That, of course, is not the way to go places in the NCAA Tournament, where you have to win six games in-a-row to be the last team cutting down the nets. Boston College started out 13-2, but immediately followed up a stunning win at North Carolina with a home loss to Harvard. That started a string of four straight losses (just one to a team in the Top 25). The Eagles then won five in-a-row, but just concluded their regular season by losing four of their last seven. It could have been five of seven, but a wild shot in the last seconds saved them from a home loss to ACC bottom-feeder Georgia Tech.
First round. That doesn’t sound kind, but it at least means that the Eagles make it to the NCAA Tournament. Few outside of Chestnut Hill could have expected as much after Boston College went 4-12 in ACC play last season, just like few thought the Eagles’ early-season win at North Carolina wasn’t a fluke. Well, it wasn’t. This team is good. The problem is that this team is not very good, and keep in mind that only 32 teams make it out of the first round of the Big Dance. Boston College has a chance to be one of them, but it would probably take an other-wordly performance from Rice.