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ACC Tournament Preview Part I

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This preview is the first of a four part series leading up to the 57th edition of the ACC Tournament in Greensboro, North Carolina. In this part, we will examine the noon matchup on Thursday of #8 seed Boston College Eagles and the #9 seed Virginia Cavaliers. We will also take a look at how well the winner will matchup with the #1 seed Duke Blue Devils on Friday at noon.

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The first game of the 2010 ACC Tournament is between #8 Boston College with a record of 15-15 (6-10) and #9 Virginia, who is 14-15 (5-11). This is a game between teams that have both experienced a bad stretch of games. Boston College has won only 3 of their last 9 games while Virginia has lost 9 straight games after starting the conference year with a surprising 5-2 record.

Boston College won the only matchup between these two teams 68-55 on March 3rd. Corey Raji led Boston College with 18 points and 9 rebounds while Sylven Landesberg led UVA with 13 points and 3 assists.

Boston College will win if....they can field a team and not forfeit the game. With Sylven Landesberg and Calvin Baker both out for Virginia, it will seemingly be very difficult for Virginia to win the game. In all seriousness though, the Eagles need Joe Trapani to continue to play at a high level as he has throughout the year (14.6 points and 6.4 rebounds). Reggie Jackson has come on as of late and provided a fantastic spark for Al Skinner. The critical player very well could be Tyler Roche, who has scored 30 points twice this year when filling in for Trapani. If Roche has more than 15 points this game will not be close at all.

Virginia will win if...everything on the floor goes their way and then some. This team is in a complete free fall. After winning their first 5 of 7 games in the ACC they have lost 9 in a row and haven't been competitive in some of them (5 of those 9 losses have been by double digits). To make matters worse, their superstar Sylven Landesberg is academically ineligible for the rest of the season because he thought class at Virginia wasn't as important as sleeping. Mike Scott and Sammy Zeglinski will have to step up big time for the Wahoos to have a chance. Virginia is coming off a well played game at home against Maryland, so maybe Tony Bennett can conjure up some magic and get Virginia into the second round against Duke.

BSD Predictions

WakeJake- BC 72-60

MRickman- BC 70-62

BJohnston- BC 64-49

RaJohnston- BC 72-60

Average: BC 70-58

Our writers thought that Boston College would be too much for the Virginia Cavaliers, especially without Baker and Landesberg. Al Skinner has experienced some good success in the ACC Tournament and they should move on to Friday with relative ease unless something unexpected happens.

Whoever is lucky enough to advance to face the #1 seed Duke Blue Devils on Friday certainly has their hands full. Duke is playing for a #1 seed in the Big Dance and no matter who they face on Friday, should advance to the semi-finals on Saturday. Duke has won 8 of the past 11 ACC Tournaments and it is no secret that if they win this year the ACC Tournament may be renamed the Duke Invitational.

Led by the three headed monster of Nolan Smith, Jon Scheyer and Kyle Singler, Duke is very difficult to defend on the inside, but especially the outside. The 52 ppg for this threesome is the second most in the country only behind Notre Dame's three players. Coach K has dominated the ACC Tournament in recent years and this year will probably be no different with a relatively easy path to the finals on Sunday.

Boston College will more than likely be the team that will face them on Friday and, to have a chance to stay in the game, will need monster games from likely Roche, Trapani and Jackson. Biko Paris will have to take care of the ball better than he has been lately. On defense, they cannot allow any of the three players to get open shots early from the outside because it could be over quickly if they do. Rebounding will be critical as well, because with the Plumlees and Zoubek coming on strong Duke, has been getting more than one look at the basket.

If UVA makes it through Boston College on Thursday, I have no idea what they will do about the size inside for Duke. The Wahoos don't really have anybody that can battle inside with Zoubek and the Plumlee brothers. They would need to lockdown with their packline defense and not allow Duke to get good looks at the basket.

I think it is fair to say that neither Boston College nor Virginia has a very good chance at beating Duke because they will have already played one game the day before and they are also on the wrong side of a large talent discrepancy. I have seen Duke with 91% odds on several publication to advance to Saturday, and I do not disagree.

BSD ODDS to win ACC Tournament:

Duke - 61%

BC/UVA - ~1%