Boston College went 5-7 against tourney teams on the season (Texas finished 7-9 vs. the NCAA field), beating automatic qualifiers and 16-seeds Boston U and Holy Cross (twice) plus five-seed Miami (twice). The Eagles lost to three-seed Pittsburgh (twice), nine-seed St. Johns (twice), one-seed Duke and two-seed UConn (twice). Boston College gave the Blue Devils a run for their money, exploding for 52 points in the second half in the 88-78 loss in Boston. The Eagles, as the Horns managed twice, took one of the nation's top teams to OT before losing, falling on the road to the Huskies 79-77.
After a 12-1 start, the Eagles dropped 10 of their final 18, including four losses in their last seven games to finish at 20-11 and at No. 42 in the final RPI (UT, with an identical overall record, came in at No. 22). During that season-ending stretch, all of BC's losses came to tourney qualifiers. Over those final seven games, the Eagles struggled from the floor, hitting below their season average of 42.1-percent from the field in six of those contests.
Unlike Texas, Boston College had line-up continuity throughout the season, using the same starting line-up -- 6-1 G Troy Bell, 6-2 G Ryan Sidney, 6-5 F Kenny Walls, 6-8 F Uka Agbai and 7-0 C Nate Doornekamp -- in all 31 games. Bell, a first-team All-Big East performer this season and a second-team All-American in '00-'01, leads the Eagles in scoring with a 21.4 points per game average, the 14th-best mark in D-I hoops. Sidney (14.2), Walls (13.0) and Agbai (11.9) also average in double figures. Walls (35.4-percent from beyond the arc), Sidney (36.6-percent) and back-up forwards Andrew Bryant (38.2-percent overall and a scorching 48.1-percent in Big East play) and Brian Ross (36.4-percent) are BC's most accurate outside shooting threats. Overall, the Eagles hit 33.9-percent of their treys (an average of 6.7 per game) and 42.1-percent from the field. Boston College, which finished fourth in the Big East's East Division, averages 74.1 points per game and gives up 70.5. Surprisingly, perimeter player Sidney leads the Eagles in rebounding at 7.8 per game, followed by Agbai (6.0), Walls (4.4), Bell (4.0) and Doornekamp (3.5). For the season, opponents outrebounded BC by a slight margin.
The key to a Longhorn win may lie with the UT D and its efforts vs. the Boston College guard combo of Bell and Sidney. In BC's 20 wins, Bell averaged 23.4 and shot 45.8-percent from the field while Sidney averaged 15.9 points and shot 47.8 percent from the field. In the Eagles' 11 losses, Bell averaged just 17.9 points and shot 32.1-percent while Sidney averaged 11 points and 39.7-percent. When Bell and Sidney combines for 40-plus points, BC won 10 and lost just one game. High scoring contests tend to favor the Eagles as well. Boston College has an 11-0 record this season when topping 80 points.
If the game comes down to a free throw shooting contest, the Horns would be wise to avoid putting Bell on the line. The junior knocked down 88.5-percent of his charity stripe attempts on the season.
BC is not an extremely deep team. Four of the Eagles' starters -- Bell (37.5), Sidney (33.8), Walls (34.6) and Agbai (33.7) -- average 33-plus minutes per game. T.J. Ford, UT's minutes leader, averages 32.4 per game. Boston College is getting an average of 11.6 points per game from its bench.
The Eagles are a salty 9-2 all-time in the first round of the NCAA Tournament and 17-13 overall. Boston College went into the '01 tourney as a three-seed and bowed out in the second round after an opening game win over 14-seed Southern Utah.
Hoops notes: Friday's Midwest Regional match-up between Texas and Boston College will tip at approximately 9:25. Mississippi State and McNeese State square off in the opening game of the evening session at American Airlines Arena in Dallas. Oklahoma takes on Illinois-Chicago in a West Regional game earlier that afternoon in Big D. . . . UT's season-closing eight-game stretch included games against seven tournament teams. The Horns finished 4-4 overall and 3-4 against NCAA qualifiers over those eight games. For the season, the highest-seeded team Texas defeated was six-seed Texas Tech (twice).