Boston College was the worst team in Division I college basketball earlier this season — against the spread, that is. But what goes down must come up. The Eagles crushed Virginia Tech (+6.5 away) 76-52, then covered the spread in competitive road losses to Notre Dame (-6.5) and excellent Virginia (-13). It’s easily the best basketball the Eagles have played all season.
The party ended Saturday, when No. 11 Duke came to Chestnut Hill and beat Boston College 89-68 as 9.5-point favorites. But even that game had positive takeaways for BC supporters. The Eagles fought back from an early deficit and were tied at 32 with Duke late in the first half. Then Jabari Parker took over. Arguably the best player in Division I, Parker scored 12 of Duke’s first 17 points in the second half, finishing with a career-high 29 points and 16 rebounds.
There’s no shame in losing to a team that’s 8-1 to win the national championship, though. If anything, that experience should fuel the Eagles as they hit the road to play Georgia Tech Wednesday night (live on NESN, 7 p.m.). At 3-8 straight up (12-12 straight up overall, 9-9 against the spread), Georgia Tech is a mere half-game ahead of Boston College in the ACC standings, and the early NCAA basketball lines have the Jackets favored by only four points at McCamish Pavilion.
Boston College has been playing with a little more zest the past couple of weeks. Before the game against Virginia Tech, head coach Steve Donahue had just one phrase on the whiteboard for his players: The BC Way. They got the message.
“The reality of it is, we’ve gotten ourselves in holes, and we’ve probably gotten some bad habits, relying on [leading scorer Olivier Hanlan] to get us back in the game, which he can do,” Donahue told reporters after the victory. “I’d rather us play the team basketball that I know we can play.”
That teamwork was on full display against the Hokies. Boston College dished out 19 assists while committing just seven turnovers, and four different players scored in double figures, led by Joe Rahon’s 20 points. Ball distribution has been pretty good since then, but the Eagles still have issues with rebounding. They lost the battle on the glass in each of the next three games by a significant margin.
That was also the case Jan. 21 when the Yellow Jackets came to Conte Forum and beat Boston College 68-60 as 5.5-point road dogs. All nine of Tech’s players grabbed at least two boards as the Jackets out-rebounded BC 32-20. The Eagles managed only seven assists in that game, so if they can continue the emphasis on teamwork, the result could be different this time.