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Looking Ahead: #ThePath to the postseason for Boston College

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Postseason Aspirations:

March is always a tough month to be a Boston College Basketball fan. In recent years, March has consisted of wrapping up the regular season with meaningless games, playing a game or two in the ACC tournament, and watching other teams play in the NCAA tournament. The Eagles have not qualified for the NCAA Tournament since 2009, when Tyrese Rice led the team in scoring, and Reggie Jackson was just a freshman. And while the Eagles are not particularly likely to make the Big Dance this year, there is at least some hope that they could make a run, which is far more than can be said for the past few seasons. Unless BC wins the ACC Tournament, their path to a tournament berth requires out-of-conference domination and a winning ACC record. 

 Last season without Quinten Post, BC went 6-5 before ACC play. But when Coach Grant got his star big man back on the court, the Eagles looked like a completely different team, going a respectable 9-11 in the conference. So if Post, and the rest of the Eagles’ squad, can remain healthy all season, the Eagles could see that third-year breakthrough that Grant has been harping on. With their upcoming matchup against Lehigh, the Eagles have a chance to finish their out-of-conference schedule at an excellent 9-2 record. This out-of-conference performance far exceeds what BC has done in past seasons, and keeps the window open for postseason play. If BC can continue this momentum into conference play, they are a strong candidate for a bid to the NIT Tournament, and could have an outside shot at the NCAA Tournament. 

Rest of the ACC:

Boston College’s tournament hopes will be determined by the rest of the ACC. If the conference has a down year and only gets five teams on the bracket, the Eagles will likely be on the outside looking in. But if the ACC performs well enough to get seven or eight teams in the Dance, now we’re talking. Seeing as the bulk of ACC play is yet to come, we have to rely on various ranking systems to determine where BC currently stacks up. This week’s AP Top 25 Poll includes 4 ACC teams: UNC (11th), Clemson (18th), Duke (21st), and Virgina (22nd). These four teams will likely occupy the top of the standings for most of the season, but the next 6-7 spots are completely up for grabs. 

As it stands now, Pitt, Virginia Tech, Miami, NC State, Syracuse, Wake Forest, and Boston College are all ranked between 40th and 83rd in the NCAA’s NET rankings. After BC, you have to look another 56 spots before you find Florida State. So, not there’s not much separating the middle of the ACC, and matchups between these teams could go either way. Coach Grant’s ability to win close games will ultimately decide if this team has any hope of qualifying for the tournament. 

AP Top 25 Poll (Courtesy of CBS) NCAA NET Rankings

Stats for Basketball Nerds:

Outside of the AP Poll and NET rankings, several advanced statistical models can give some more insight. Obviously, no model will be able to perfectly predict how BC will perform in the ACC, they can at least give fans an idea of where they should be. The two statitcal models I looked at were the popular KenPom rankings and lesser-known Haslametrics. As it currently stands in KenPom, BC is ranked 93rd out of 362, which is good enough for 11th out of 15 ACC teams. Based on BC’s adjusted efficiency margin (fancy word for rank), KenPom predicts that BC will win 8-9 games in the conference, which would about line up with last year’s ACC performance. An 8-12 ACC record is certainly not going to be enough to get the Eagles onto the bracket (though it might be enough for an NIT bid), many of those losses are on small margins, so a 12-8/13-7 record is not out of the question. 

Haslametrics is considerably higher on the Eagles than KenPom, and has them coming in at 55th in D-I and 7th in the ACC in “All-Play Percentage” (another fancy word for rank). Erik Haslam predicts that the Eagles will come out on top in some of those closer games, going 12-7 in their remaining 19 games. Depending on how competitive the rest of the ACC is, a 12-8 Conference record would likely at least get the Eagles in some March Madness disucssions.

Again, neither KenPom nor Haslametrics are gospel, and it’s important to remember that the games are played on the hardwood, not in the spreadsheets. If college basketball was perfectly predictable, there’d be no reason to play the games. Most BC fans would probably predict that the Eagles to finish somewhere between what the two models predict. But the fact remains that the middle of the ACC is wide open for the taking, and the Eagles certainly have the talent to put their name in the mix. 

KenPom Rankings Haslametrics Rankings

Best Case/Worst Case:

For BC to get their name on the bracket, they need a near-best-case scenario. Given the parity of the ACC, there are only two games that I’m chalking up as losses: January 13th at Clemson and February 10th at Duke. The Eagles are talented enough that they will have a shot to win every other game on their schedule. By no means am I saying that BC will finish with a 17-3 record in the ACC, but they should at least be in a position to win the rest of their games. Below, I’ve outlined my best-case scenario, likely scenario, and worst-case scenario for the Eagles’ remaining schedule. Having already dropped a winnable game to NC State, the best case scenario I see for BC is 13-7. To reach 13 wins, the Eagles have to dominate at home and steal a few on the road. This scenario assumes a healthy team, excellent execution in close games, and an ACC Player-of-the-Year type of season for Quinten Post.

Next, the most likely scenario that I foresee for the Eagles is 10 wins in the ACC. In this scenario, the Eagles take care of business against lesser teams such as Louisville, Notre Dame, and Florida State, and take a few other miscellaneous games. In this scenario, the Eagles beat who they’re supposed to, win some close games, and drop some heartbreakers. Since they performed so well out of conference, 9-10 wins in the ACC would likely be enough to earn a spot in the NIT, but not in the NCAA Tournament.

Lastly, I have the absolute worst case for the Eagles ACC schedule as 5 wins, and no postseason play. In this scenario, the Eagles might see some extended injuries to Post or Jaeden Zackery, or perhaps they struggle to execute late in games and are unable to close out several winnable games. Whatever, the case, the floor of this Eagles’ team is far higher than it has been in year’s past, and I struggle to see a scenario where Eagles’ fans see another 3-4 win ACC season. 

Closing Thoughts:

As I mentioned in the beginning of this article, March Madness is a long shot for this Eagles team, but not at all an impossibility. While BC has dropped a couple of winnable games, the mere fact that BC is six weeks into the season, and a tournament berth is still on the table is as much as any Eagles fan could have wished for. But, first things first, the Eagles must take care of business against Lehigh this Thursday, before gearing up for a competitive matchup against Wake Forest on January 2nd. Due to the holiday break, the next two games in Conte likely won’t have many fans. But if the Eagles can get some momentum heading into that January 15th matchup against Notre Dame, you could be looking at some long lines to get in the building.

Scenarios for BC’s remining schedule (courtesy of Jack Seiberlich)

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DiMauro: All in all, a solid year for BC sports

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If you are reading this, chances are your primary means of remaining connected to Boston College runs through athletics.

Oh, and we’ve been tortured souls, too, especially in recent years. We are idealists and fatalists, demanding yet forgiving, loyal and resilient, even if sometimes it feels as though we make the long trek up the cliff to Lovers Leap … only to get shoved.

All of which makes the sports year of 2023-24 a time to celebrate. Boston College did itself proud, no small occurrence given that in this unsteady (perverse?) time of expansion and realignment, schools like BC must always look their Sunday best, with no overt warts or love handles.

Women’s lacrosse, BC’s working definition of pride and joy, capped the sports season with the national championship Memorial Day weekend in Cary, NC. It was the program’s second natty in four years, a three-hour infomercial for the entire institution and more proof that, yes, it can be done at BC with the right coach.

Acacia Walker-Weinstein – you’ll note that only the letter “W” separates her from “Einstein” – not only hung a banner, but helped BC earn a distinction few other athletic programs in the country could trumpet. How many other schools made national championship games (both televised by ESPN) in two different sports fewer than two months apart?

Think about that one: Men’s hockey, during an otherwise memorable season, fell short in the national championship game. But the Sons of Greg Brown did the school proud all season. Not a bad accomplishment to see “BC in the national finals” on the ESPN scroll in mid-April (hockey) and late May (lacrosse). It’s hard to buy that kind of advertising, particularly when and if realignment and expansion happen again.

Football won a bowl game over a ranked team at Fenway Park, returns a dynamo in Thomas Castellanos and then made the splash of a cannonball, hiring Bill O’Brien as head coach. Three other women’s sports showed promise as well: field hockey (11-7, made the ACC Tournament); softball (30-24, made the ACC Tournament) and volleyball, which continues to improve steadily under coach Jason Kennedy, finished 19-13 and made the ACC Tournament.

Otherwise, baseball gets a pass as new coach Todd Interdonato assimilates to the ACC and establishes his culture; the soccer programs (3-9-5 and 3-9-6) were lousy; and I remain concerned about men’s and women’s basketball. Put it this way: Sure feels as though better players are leaving than are entering.

Off the field, “Friends Of The Heights,” BC’s Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) collective, grew massively, keeping BC competitive in a cutthroat environment. Friends Of The Heights also homered into the upper deck, hiring veteran athletic administrator Jim Paquette as its new Chief Development Officer. Paquette will advise the Board on overall development strategies, using his 16 years as an administrator at BC that specialized in fundraising.

BC’s overall cachet also made a splash on social media when Forbes Magazine named it one of the country’s “New Ivies.”

Based on its researchForbes, the century-old national business magazine, reported that American companies are souring on hiring Ivy League graduates, instead preferring high achievers from 20 other prominent universities – “Private and Public New Ivies.”

BC joins private school “New Ivies” Carnegie Mellon, Emory, Georgetown, Johns Hopkins, Northwestern, Rice, Notre Dame, Southern California and Vanderbilt. Ah, to be judged by the company one keeps.

One school year hasn’t produced this much for BC in years. And it’s significant. The idea now is to build, not regress.

Full disclosure: There are many things I still don’t like. I’m told Father Leahy neither attended the Frozen Four nor the lacrosse Final Four. It is disrespectful to the players, coaches and alumni to have a leader who acts as if so much about what makes BC great is beneath him. And we still seem to have these spasms of tone deafness, such as patrolling the parking lots like stormtroopers the day of the spring football game.

But 2023-24 was an encouraging year for BC in many ways. Yes, we always want more. But we were getting less for a long time. Not this year. A tip of the cap to athletic director Blake James, his staff, the coaches and the kids.

We pause now to enjoy summer and await Labor Day night in Tallahassee. Here’s to 2024-25, hollering “Mr. Brightside” again with the kids from the crowded bleachers.

Mike DiMauro, a columnist in Connecticut, is a contributor to Eagles Daily and a member of BC’s Class of 1990. He may be reached at m.dimauro@theday.com or @BCgenius 

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Boston College lands commitment from transfer Roger McFarlane

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Earl Grant and his staff continue to rebuild the roster, landing their fourth commitment from the transfer portal in Roger McFarlane out of SE Louisiana. The guard comes to the Eagles with one year of eligibility and posted an impressive 14.8 points per game to go along with 8.6 rebounds a contest. Additionally, McFarlane impressed with an early season matchup with Auburn, posting 25 points and 11 rebounds. The Fort Lauderdale native recently visited Temple before ultimately choosing Chestnut Hill as his final collegiate destination.

Additionally, McFarlane now becomes the third guard BC has signed through the portal, joining UMBC’s Dion Brown and Clemson’s Josh Beadle. Rounding out the transfer class is center Chad Venning out of St. Bonaventure. Along with three incoming freshman, there is now one remaining scholarship spot left.

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Roster Revamp: Kany Tchanda’s Late Commitment Nearly Completes the Eagles’ 2024-25 Team

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Tchanda Showcasing his Elite Athleticism for Sunrise Christian Academy

After a wild couple of weeks in the world of college basketball, with thousands of players leaving their schools, the transfer portal buzz has finally started to cool down. And the Boston College basketball roster has undergone some major reconstruction, even by today’s standards. The Eagles saw six of their key returners enter their name in the portal: Jaeden Zackery, Mason Madsen, Claudell Harris Jr, Prince Aligbe, Devin McGlockton, and Armani Mighty. And, in relatively short order, brought in three names to replace them: Chad Venning, Josh Beadle, and Dion Brown (and nearly one more that I won’t mention). However, after the flurry of transfers in and out, the Eagles were left with three roster spots yet to be filled. 

And earlier this evening, one of those three spots was filled, as Boston College landed a late Class of 2024 commitment from Kany Tchanda, a forward from Wichita, Kansas. The 6’9 forward adds depth to the Eagle front court, with some much needed length and athleticism. 247Sports has Tchanda as the 3rd-ranked player from Kansas, the 31st-ranked center, and 205th-ranked overall player for the Class of 2024. For reference, 247 gives Tchanda an 88 “Player Rating”, which would put him right between Chas Kelley’s 86 and Prince Aligbe’s 89. While recruiting rankings are by no means a reliable predictor of collegiate success, Tchanda certainly has the potential to be a contributor down the line. 

In his three years at Boston College, Coach Grant has shown a willingness to take on long-term projects in the front court. Most notably, under his tutelage, Quinten Post became an NBA-caliber talent and Devin McGlockton went from an unranked recruit to one of the better forwards in the ACC. But even freshman Elijah Strong exceeded his (albeit low) preseason expectations, and has many Eagles fans excited about his future with the program. And last season, Grant red-shirted Jayden Hastings, the highest-rated recruit in the Eagles’ 2023 Class, opting to give him a full year of development before trotting him onto the court. Perhaps Grant has similar plans for Tchanda, who certainly looks the part of the slept-on, high-upside forward.

With Kany Tchanda’s signing, the 2024-25 Boston College roster is starting to take shape, as they have just two scholarships remaining. Last season, the program opted to use just 12 of their 13 scholarships, so don’t be shocked if they bank on this season in hopes of a larger 2025 Class. 

For more Boston College Hoops updates, follow along @EaglesDailyBC and @JackPSeiberlich on Twitter, as we eagerly await the final pieces of the Eagles’ 2024-25 roster to come together. 

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