Previewing Boston College

Steve Donahue didn't want to have to say it, but it was pretty obvious to anyone around his young team.

"I think right now, unfortunately, we're running on fumes," the BC coach said after the Eagles were hammered at Miami in the final game of the regular season.

The loss was the 21st of the season for BC, matching the most defeats in a season by the program. Barring the most incredible run to an NCAA championship, these Eagles will instead set the school record for losses by themselves.

The final loss should come Thursday in Atlanta, when BC, which finished last in the ACC as the loser in a four-way tie for ninth place, meets fifth-seeded North Carolina State in the first round of the conference tournament.

The Eagles were 0-2 against the Wolfpack during the regular season, losing a close one at home Feb. 1.

BC lost five of its last six and followed a 2-1 start in conference play with 11 losses in their last 13 games. The Eagles did beat Georgia Tech in the first game of the final week, posting their fourth win of the season in the league, all at home.

Now, the grind is almost over.

"I think we've gone through almost everything you can go through," freshman forward Ryan Anderson said after the Miami game. "We've played more basketball than most sophomores in college have played, so I think we're really confident and we have a good foundation that we've built this year and we're going to be fine moving forward."

-- BC finished 4-12 in the ACC, and wound up as the 12th seed after losing out in a tie-breaker with Wake Forest and Georgia Tech. That left the Eagles as a No. 12 seed and matched up against No. 5 North Carolina State in what was likely to be the Eagles' only game at the ACC tournament.

But remember this: the Eagles did win four games in conference play, and did have a legitimate shot at a handful of others. So anything can happen in Atlanta.

-- The Eagles went 0-8 on the road in conference play and have won only one game away from their home floor all season, beating UC-Riverside in the 76 Tournament in California way back on Nov. 25.

-- The next, and final, loss for this team will make this version the team with the most losses in BC history. Strangely, Steve Donahue is in his second season, which is where Al Skinner was when, with a depleted roster, his 1998-99 team went 6-21.

BY THE NUMBERS: 56 -- The exact number of points scored by BC in each of its last three regular-season games. The Eagles won one of those games.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think what you saw was a microcosm of what we went through the entire season. Once again, they get the lead, these young kids get flustered and the lead goes out the window." -- Coach Steve Donahue after his team almost blew a 17-point lead and then hung on for an ugly win over Georgia Tech.

--vs North Carolina State, ACC Tournament, March 8
On paper, it's easy to look at this game and this matchup and see a one-and-done for BC, which comes in with a 9-21 record, while N.C. State is 20-11 and has two of those wins over BC.

The winner gets fourth-seeded Virginia, which actually finished in a three-way tie with N.C. State and Miami for fourth place, all with 9-7 league records.

The Eagles played the Wolfpack tough in Boston on Feb. 1, but that was during the stretch of games when BC was playing everyone tough and then falling apart late.

Remember, the history of the ACC Tournament is filled with upsets.

FUTURES MARKET: We stick with freshman F Ryan Anderson, even though he had a rough regular-season finale at Miami, where he shot 2-for-9 from the floor and finished with six points and 11 rebounds.

Still, over the last seven games, he was at 15.4 points and 8.6 rebounds per game, something that makes you look ahead at more than just a role player.

For the season, he is averaging team-highs of 10.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game.

Junior G Matt Humphrey led the Eagles with 16 points in the regular-season finale at Miami, adding three rebounds, three assists and four steals to the cause.

-- Freshman swingman Patrick Heckmann returned from a seven-game absence caused by mononucleosis, played in the final three games of the regular season, but played only 39 total minutes, scoring seven points. Remember, this kid had 32 points in a win over UC-Riverside Nov. 26.

-- C Dennis Clifford had 11 points and three rebounds at Miami, but also had five of his team's 17 turnovers in the game. For the season, he was averaging 9.2 points and 4.8 rebounds per game.

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