BC Basketball: Re-evaluating the Ceiling?


There is no longer any lingering doubt that the freshman-laden Boston College men’s basketball team has improved from the beginning of the season until now. Fans often were not convinced of it during non-conference play, but with two wins in BC’s first three ACC games, the Eagles are suddenly looking like they’re about to put it all together. Few, if any, are under any impression that anything will come of the 2011-12 campaign, and a losing record still seems all but certain, but given two unexpected (at the start of the season) victories to open conference play, is it time that we re-evaluate BC’s ceiling in ACC play?

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After all, Boston College came into this season with media expectations that they might complete an 0-16 conference season, thereby making them the worst ACC team of all time. A month or so ago, when the Eagles were getting crushed by the likes of UMass and Holy Cross, and giving up 21 offensive rebounds to a 2-12 Rhode Island team, the prognosis was not good.

Though neither of BC’s two conference wins to this point have been dominant efforts, however, the Eagles have played hard and apparently taken a step forward. In particular, players like Dennis Clifford and Ryan Anderson have demonstrated that they are capable of performing at an ACC level, while others like Lonnie Jackson, Matt Humphrey, and Jordan Daniels have contributed. There is no more questioning if these guys can win on this level, because they’ve already done it twice. Even if they go out and lose their last 13 ACC games, which appears unlikely, and pack it in on day one of the ACC Tournament, they still have multiple conference wins, and those cannot be taken away. They are proof that the Eagles are not completely hopeless now, and that they may not be completely hopeless for the future.

Boston College is 2-1 in the ACC; winning a majority of their remaining games is a tough sell given how there are some very good teams waiting in BC’s schedule. How many can they win, though? These are BC’s remaining games and the teams’ current records:

at NC State (13-5, 2-1)
Wake Forest (10-7, 1-2)
at #17 Virginia (14-2, 1-1)
Miami (9-6, 0-2)
NC State (13-5, 2-1)
at Georgia Tech (8-9, 1-2)
Florida State (11-6, 2-1)
at Virginia Tech (11-6, 0-3)
at Maryland (12-4, 2-1)
#6 Duke (15-2, 3-0)
at Wake Forest (10-7, 1-2)
Georgia Tech (8-9, 1-2)
at Miami (9-6, 0-2)

By my count, there are as many as seven winnable games. Wake Forest (2), Georgia Tech (2), Miami (2), and Virginia Tech are not significantly better than the Eagles at this point in time, if at all, and of course BC has already beaten one of those teams. Assuming the other teams are too far out of reach, though we need not concede any games, the Eagles could go 9-7 if all goes perfectly. I do not expect things to go perfectly because it is a young team and they are bound to make mistakes, so for the sake of argument, let’s give BC three of those seven. That’s a 5-11 ACC year and ten overall wins heading into the ACC Tournament. I ask you, BC fans, when you saw the Eagles get dismantled by UMass, would you have taken 5-11 in the conference? Of course you would have.

It would be a disappointment if the Eagles were only to win one, or worse yet none, of the remaining conference games. Indeed, it would seem they are definitely capable of picking off two or three more teams, and anything beyond that is gravy. It is important for fans not to get too far ahead of themselves and predict a winning season given what the Eagles have been through to this point, but several more wins are absolutely possible.