Thursday, March 4, 2010

ACC Tourney: Can VaTech tune out BC again?

We know at least one Boston College player will advance to the ACC Championship Sunday at the Greensboro Coliseum - senior guard Ayla Brown, a 2005 semifinalist on "American Idol" and the daughter of U.S. Senator Scott Brown, will sing the National Anthem prior to the title game. Virginia Tech's plan is to send the rest of the Eagles packing today.

Also, congratulations again to Virginia's Monica Wright, who picked up the ACC's Defensive Player of the Year award on Wednesday. Wright earned first-team All-ACC honors on Monday and is expected to claim the league's Player of the Year award today. The Cavaliers open ACC Tournament play on Friday against the winner of today's N.C. State-Clemson first-round game.

ACC Tournament
First round

#10 Virginia Tech (15-14, vs. No. 7 Boston College (15-14), 6 p.m. (Webcast)
Two weeks ago in Blacksburg, Tech prevailed 69-64 in the lone regular-season meeting between the two. The victory snapped Tech's four-game losing streak but was actually the third straight quality performance by the Hokies after respectable showings against national powers Duke and Florida State. Tech made it four good games in a row by nipping Clemson in the regular-season finale and enter the tournament playing its "best ball of the season" according to coach Beth Dunkenberger. BC boast imposing size in 6-6 Carolyn Swords, a first-team All-ACC pick and the nation's leader in field-goal percentage, and 6-4 Stephanie Murphy. But in the teams' lone regular-season meeting, Tech actually won the rebounding battle and the best big on the floor was Tech's Brittany Gordon (14 points, 11 rebounds). It certainly helped that Swords played most of that game in foul trouble and logged just 19 minutes. But the Hokies were also able to make hay by beating the Eagles off the dribble, forcing them to help and then beating them to the offensive boards. BC coach Sylvia Crawley said the Eagles have spent a lot of time working on their one-on-one defense. But you can't become a good on-the-ball defender in a few days. We expect Tech to be able to break down the Eagles defense again. If they can keep the ball out of Swords' hands - or better yet, keep her off the floor completely like they did for long stretches of the first game - we love Tech's chances to advance. The winner will meet #2 Florida State in the quarterfinals Friday at 6 p.m.

Thursday's other first-round games

#5 Wake Forest vs. #12 Miami, 11 a.m. (Comcast)
#8 Maryland vs. #9 North Carolina, 3 p.m. (Comcast)
#6 N.C State vs. #11 Clemson, 8 p.m. (Webcast)

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