If you told me at the beginning of the season that all Wake Forest has to do to make the NCAA Tournament is defeat Boston College in #therivalry, I would have called you crazy, probably laughed a bit, and then once I realized you were serious, jumped up and down at the sheer thought of it.
Well...here we are.
The No. 10 seeded Wake Forest Demon Deacons (18-12, 9-9...man that felt good to type) take on the No. 15 seeded Boston College Eagles (9-22, 2-16) today at approximately 2:30 in the first round of the ACC Tournament,
The game will air on ESPN2, or the WatchESPN app, and it will also be broadcast by your local ACC affiliate if you are in the ACC Footprint.
I’m not going to mince words here, if Wake Forest wins today they are almost certainly in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2010. Defeating Boston College would eliminate the chance for a bad loss through the rest of the season, and would guarantee 19 wins, and also at least a .500 conference record.
The Deacs have already defeated Boston College twice this season, but the Eagles didn’t make it easy. Back on January 3rd Wake managed to win 79-66 in Winston-Salem behind 17 points and 7 rebounds from John Collins. The Deacs trailed 37-35 at the half before shutting down BC in the first ten minutes of the second half to get out to a lead that they would not relinquish.
On the return trip four weeks later, Boston College trailed at the half 36-33, but mounted a strong “third quarter” of their own to take a 64-58 lead with under ten minutes remaining. This is where John Collins really flexed his muscles and put the team on his back, compiling 26 points and 16 rebounds in 31 minutes to help Wake comeback and win 85-80.
I’m not going to lie to you, I’m already pretty damn nervous about this game. Wake Forest is by far the better team, has everything to play for, and has been playing very good basketball lately, while Boston College is on a 14 game losing streak. Despite the records, Wake simply must win today to make sure they get in, if they trip up then it will be a long wait until Sunday.
The gameplan should be pretty simple—-get the ball to John Collins every single chance you get. Boston College simply cannot defend him, and Mo Jeffers has fouled out both games against him this season.
This game matches up the 9th ranked Wake Forest offense against the 161st ranked defense of Boston College. On the flip side, BC has the 173rd ranked offense compared to the 129th ranked defense of Wake Forest.
Boston College is very good at securing defensive rebounds, so they will have to play to that to limit Collins on the glass and get stops. They also shoot at a decent clip from behind the arc at 37.5% on the year.
The guard play from Jerome Robinson and especially Ky Bowman has been promising for the Eagles, and they will be a fun backcourt to watch for the next two years. Bowman is shooting 45% from the 3-pt line on the season, and has become effectively THE GUY for them this year.
It is probably just the eternal pessimist (realist?) in me that expects bad things to happen to Wake Forest, but I do think we will get the win today. It may be closer than we want, or that we will be comfortable with, but once again, just win and we should be in.
KenPom likes the Deacs 88-75, and Vegas opened at Wake -10. That line has gone up to -12 or -13 depending on where you look.
I’l take Wake 90-75 behind a big game from Bryant Crawford and John Collins. I do think Boston College will be within striking distance at the half, but the interior play of Collins will wear them down as the game goes on.
As always, Go Deacs! This is a big one!!!