Preview: Boston College at Virginia

UVA is the clear favorite in front of their home crowd

Boston College at Virginia

Wednesday, 2/19/20, 8:00pm EST


It’s getting to be crunch time in the ACC, making Wednesday’s meeting between the Virginia Cavaliers and Boston College Eagles a critical game for both teams. Despite being the reigning national champs, Virginia is squarely on the bubble at 17-7 overall and 9-5 in conference play. Meanwhile, Boston College is just 13-13 overall and 7-8 inside the ACC, although they could position themselves for a deep run in the ACC Tournament if they finish strong and improve their seed. Let’s take a closer look.

The Cavaliers struggled throughout most of January, but they seem to be finding their stride in February. Virginia has won five of its last six games, putting the Cavs in a position to play their way into the tournament. To the surprise of no one, Virginia is getting it done with defense, conceding just 52 points per game, which is the second-lowest total in the country. In their last 12 games, only four teams have scored more than 60 points against them, and two of those four games went to overtime. Of course, Virginia’s problem most of the season has been a lack of consistent scorers on the offensive end. Mamadi Diakite is the one exception, as he leads the team with 13.7 points per game. Even second-leading scorer Kihei Clark has had games when he doesn’t do much scoring, although he makes up for it by averaging 6.1 assists per game. The Cavaliers rely on at least one of their X-factors having a big game. Junior Tomas Woldetensae is a serious three-point threat when he gets hot. He averages just 6.9 points per game but is coming off an 18-point performance against North Carolina. Center Jay Huff is another potential difference-maker, although he isn’t always able to take advantage of his 7’1’’ frame inside the paint.

As for the Eagles, they also struggled in January but have found a way to steady the ship with four wins in their last seven games. That stretch includes road wins over North Carolina and Virginia Tech, so Boston College shouldn’t be intimidated to take on last year’s national champions away from home. The Eagles are also similar to the Cavs in the sense that they often struggle to score consistently. Senior Derryck Thornton leads the team with 13.1 points and 3.6 assists per game. He’s the engine that makes Boston College run, so when he struggles, the Eagles struggles. When Thornton scored just six points against Miami last week, Boston College lost 85-58. However, he went off for 22 points against NC State over the weekend in a 71-68 win. The X-factor these days for Boston College is senior Nik Popovic, who missed a few games due to injury but is back in the lineup. He gives the Eagles a much-needed inside presence and a player who draws extra attention from opposing defenses.

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