Home Preview: Virginia faces do-or-die game with Boston College on Wednesday

Preview: Virginia faces do-or-die game with Boston College on Wednesday

Chris Graham
reece beekman
Photo: UVA Athletics

Two weeks ago, Virginia, on an eight-game winning streak, was, per the bracket experts, playing more for NCAA Tournament seeding.

Going into Wednesday’s game at Boston College, the ‘Hoos are firmly on the tournament bubble, which is almost certain to burst with another uneven performance.

And it’s hard to see how UVA can get things turned around, on the heels of back-to-back-to-back offensive meltdowns in which the Cavaliers couldn’t get out of the 40s in the scoring column.

The latest, a 54-44 loss to North Carolina on Saturday, feels like an opportunity lost, a great defensive effort against the Tar Heels, holding them to a season-low in points, wasted.

The Boston College game will be a challenge in three respects – one, it’s a 9 p.m. game, the first for Virginia this season; two, BC home games, no matter what the time for the opening tip, draw sparse crowds, so you’ve got to be able to create your own energy; and three, this Eagles team is not bad.

BC is coming in off a pair of road losses last week, at Florida State and NC State, but the Eagles are 15-12 overall, 6-10 in the ACC, and when you look at their schedule, they’ve been in every game.

BC rotation

You’ll remember a few of these names from the BC team that manhandled Virginia last February in Chestnut Hill.

Starting with 7’0” senior center Quentin Post (15.9 ppg, 7.7 rebs/g, 3.0 assists/g, 50.8% FG, 44.3% 3FG), who, as his numbers demonstrate, can do a little bit of everything.

Post lit up Virginia in a BC loss at JPJ early last season, going for 24 points on 8-of-15 shooting in a 76-57 loss.

The other starting big is 6’7”, 230-pound sophomore Devon McGlockton (10.6 ppg, 6.7 rebs/g, 58.6% FG, 33.3% 3FG), a big fella at the four spot.

The starting backcourt:

  • 6’3” junior Claudell Harris (13.7 ppg, 42.1% FG, 37.6% 3FG) is a Charleston Southern transfer who has had no problem making the move up.
  • The point guard is 6’2” junior Jaeden Zackery (11.7 ppg, 4.3 assists/g, 47.8% FG, 35.6% 3FG), and dude is thick – 220 pounds – which can make him a tough cover.
  • The third guard is 6’4” senior Mason Madsen (8.5 ppg, 47.2% FG, 46.9% 3FG).

One bench guy getting nice minutes of late has a familiar name – 6’5” sophomore Donald Hand (5.6 ppg, 38.8% FG, 37.7% 3FG), the son of, yep, you guessed it.

In his last four games, Hand is averaging 7.5 points in 14.3 minutes per game.

He had 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting, 3-of-3 from three, in 22 minutes in the 81-70 loss at NC State over the weekend.

How Virginia matches up

BC is not anything resembling a top-shelf defensive team, ranking 144th in KenPom (1.051 points per possession) nationally, and in ACC games, the Eagles rank 12th (1.106 PPP).

Post, as much a weapon as he is on offense, is a liability on the defensive end, which, honestly, is why a guy with his skill set on the offensive end is still in college as a senior.

Virginia could attack Post in ball screens with Reece Beekman (13.8 ppg, 5.8 assists/g, 44.6% FG, 30.9% 3FG) and Jordan Minor (4.4 ppg, 3.1 rebs/g, 49.5% FG).

Minor had 12 points and 10 rebounds in the loss to UNC on Saturday, more than holding his own in a matchup with All-ACC center Armando Bacot.

Virginia could also try ball screens with Beekman and Ryan Dunn (8.4 ppg, 6.9 rebs/g, 56.5% FG), who hasn’t been doing much of late – averaging just 4.0 points per game over his last eight games – but that’s primarily because he hasn’t been used right.

Dunn should be a screen-and-roll monster; all he’s been asked to do of late is set screens or catch passes on the perimeter, where is decidedly not a weapon (21.4% 3FG).

And how about some slip screens with Isaac McKneely (12.2 ppg, 42.2% FG, 45.1% 3FG) and Jake Groves (7.2 ppg, 48.7% FG, 48.7% 3FG)?

Make the two and four on defense choose which of those guys they want to leave open, basically.

Virginia should be able to get the offense back on track in this one, but it’s going to take some creative thinking schematically, which I’ve been harping on for a few days now.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].