Postseason Preview: Boston College vs. Georgia Tech, ACC First Round

Also see the Postseason Preview for BU-American in tonight’s Patriot League championship game.

The game: 14. Boston College (8-23 overall, 4-14 ACC) vs. 11. Georgia Tech (15-16, 6-12); 7:00 Wednesday, ESPN2.

In-league efficiency: BC: -.08 (1.09 pts/poss, 1.17 allowed); GT: -.08 (.99 pts/poss, 1.07 allowed)

One key chart:

Worst_conference_defenses_2013-14(Data via KenPom.com)

Only four teams in the nation posted a worse defensive efficiency in their respective conferences than BC’s 1.17 points allowed per possession: IUPUI, Cornell, Tennessee-Martin, Presbyterian and UC-Davis. Suffice to say, none of those teams had quite the same lofty preseason expectations that the Eagles did. Boston College entered the season hoping to be an NCAA tournament contender, and they’ve been half of an at-large-caliber team — but the defensive half has been barely Division I-caliber. Poor defense has always plagued Steve Donahue teams, at Cornell and at BC, which is the main reason why he’s not expected back for a fifth season.

Superior mascot: Donkey Kong 64 featured several types of dangerous enemies and bosses, and yet the one creature that gave me the most anxiety was one of the earliest to appear and easiest to defeat — the bees. I haven’t been stung by a bee in 15 years, and yet I still freeze in fear anytime I hear one buzzing around. What I’m saying is, I wouldn’t pick Yellow Jackets over the Orange, much less over BC’s Eagles.

Critical matchup: Ryan Anderson and BC’s front line vs. Georgia Tech’s rebounding. The Yellow Jackets swept the season series, and rebounding was a big reason why. In the first meeting, Georgia Tech held the Eagles to a 14% offensive rebound rate while collecting 30% of their own misses; in the second, the Yellow Jackets collected more than half of their own misses.

History: March 21, 2004: Georgia Tech 57, Boston College 54. When these two teams met in the postseason 10 years ago, it came under considerably better circumstances — the second round of the NCAA tournament in Milwaukee, where Jared Dudley and the 6-seed Eagles nearly upset Jarrett Jack and the 3-seed Yellow Jackets. BC took a 54-53 lead into the final minute, but Jack scored the game’s final four points. Georgia Tech would advance to the national final, where it lost to Connecticut.

One thought on BC: The Eagles’ win at then-unbeaten Syracuse in February might not be the biggest upset of the past few years, especially in the wake of the Orange’s struggles since then (including a home loss to the Yellow Jackets). But it might be the most unlikely, in terms of how it happened. Given BC’s defense, it seemed the visitors’ only path to an upset was to shoot the lights out … and then they held Syracuse to 50 points in regulation, and 59 in 63 possessions for the game, BC’s best defensive efficiency against any Division-I team this year. Basketball is weird.

One thought on Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets’ two best offensive performances of conference play both came against BC. Georgia Tech scored 68 points on 58 possessions at Conte Forum, shooting a blistering 8-for-15 on three-pointers; in Atlanta, it held off a similarly hot BC outside-shooting performance with 74 points on 58 possessions, thanks to 60% shooting on two-pointers and a 52% offensive rebound rate.

Winner gets: In the first year with a 15-team ACC tournament, the winner of Wednesday’s game would still have to play four more games to win the title. Next up would be #6 Clemson in the second round, for the right to face #3 Duke. BC lost to the Tigers 62-60 at home, while the Yellow Jackets were swept by Clemson, including an ugly 45-41 affair.

Prediction: Georgia Tech is a one-point favorite, in Vegas as in KenPom, but I think BC is more talented than it’s shown this year, and some of that will come out in the postseason. BC’s forgettable season is extended by another day, with a 72-66 win.

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