Following a spirited but disappointing opening to the ACC campaign, Boston College is looking to get back to winning in their conference road opener against the Virginia Tech Hokies. Here, it’s not just one team that needs to get back on track after a loss: it’s both, and the home team arguably needs it much, much more.
Virginia Tech, after a surprising 7-0 start to the season, has lost five of its last seven games. The Hokies are currently on a three-game losing streak, but they haven’t just lost those games: they’ve gotten absolutely obliterated. Saturday’s game at Maryland was a smallest margin of defeat of the three – 23 points. Before that, they lost to BYU by 26 and Colorado State by 36. That’s an embarrassing average margin of defeat of 28.3 points per game, for those who failed math.
Looking for some common threads in those games, aside from “VT gave up a lot of points,” they had double-digit turnovers in all of them and didn’t shoot above 38.1%. The Hokies free throw shooting has been unimpressive during those three games (BC can relate after their performance against NC State) but defense is obviously the name of the game when you’re giving up an average of over 90 points per game. Hokie opponents shot 48.5% in their last three games, a fair amount of which came from beyond the arc. Indeed, box scores don’t tell the whole story: the natives think Virginia Tech has played awful defense lately as well.
BC has won five of their last six: wins against St. Francis and New Hampshire were shaky, the Providence win was solid, and big wins over Holy Cross and Dartmouth took care of business. Further, the Eagles played reasonably well in a loss to NC State on Saturday, but were not without some deficiencies. A large part of the story of this developing team is the freshmen: Olivier Hanlan and Joe Rahon have been better already than most of last year’s freshmen were all season in 2011-12. They have not carried the team, but they have played a significant role.
Meanwhile, Erick Green has been a lot of the Hokies’ everything so far this season. There are other familiar faces on the team to BC fans, but he’s been their driving force by far. He averages 24.6 points per game; Jarell Eddie, the #2 scorer, is ten and a half points behind. Thanks in part to Green’s efforts, the Hokies average more points per game than the Eagles, but they give up more (VT is ranked 315th in D-I in that department; BC 194).
No doubt, this is a game that the Hokies are thinking they’ve got to win with their home crowd against a so-so team. On the other side, for Boston College, this is an ideal scenario to get your first ACC road win. In fact, it’s about as ideal as it will get in ACC road play this year. One was taken away at Cassell in the closing seconds of last year’s meeting, so if the players recall that clearly, they have an opportunity to recover from the NC State loss, get some revenge, and kick Virginia Tech while they’re down. A loss here for the Eagles would be somewhat of a bad omen, given how badly the Hokies have played recently.