Virginia Cavaliers vs. Boston College Eagles Pick & Prediction MARCH 14th 2024

WASHINGTON — ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi thinks Virginia is one win away from securing a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

And that could come Thursday in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament quarterfinals when Virginia clashes with 11th-seeded Boston College in what Lunardi termed a “win and in” scenario for the third-seeded Cavaliers.

Virginia (22-9) is seeking its second straight NCAA Tournament bid and third since winning it all in 2019. Returning to the tournament would be the ultimate reward for a Cavaliers team that has weathered an up-and-down conference campaign. Virginia won eight straight following a 2-3 start in ACC play, only to close the regular season with a rocky 3-4 stretch.

“We’ve gotten knocked down pretty hard about six or seven times,” Cavaliers coach Tony Bennett said Saturday. “A lot of teams … they don’t get back up. But I appreciate how these guys got back up and stayed together. You get humbled, you eat your humble pie, and then you come back and fight and live with the results, and that’s what these guys have done.”

Virginia surrenders the third-fewest points per game in Division I (59.1) and boasts two of the ACC’s premier defenders in guards Reece Beekman and Ryan Dunn. Both were named to the conference’s all-defensive team on Monday, and Beekman earned ACC Defensive Player of the Year honors.

Beekman paces the Cavaliers with 14.3 points and an ACC-best 6.0 assists per game. Meanwhile, Dunn pairs a team-best 6.9 rebounds with a conference-leading 2.4 blocks per contest.

The Eagles (19-14) have won four straight following a four-game skid. While Boston College’s only realistic path to the NCAAs is to win the conference tournament, the team is embracing the pressure of do-or-die basketball.

“This has been … an interesting journey,” Eagles coach Earl Grant said after Boston College beat sixth-seeded Clemson 76-55 in Wednesday’s second round.

“We’ve been working hard, we believe in each other and we’ve been through a lot of adversity,” he said. “So at the end of the day, we’re just happy to be playing.”

Forward Quinten Post leads the Eagles with 16.8 points and 8.1 rebounds per game, while guard Claudell Harris Jr. (13.7 ppg), guard Jaeden Zackery (11.8) and forward Devin McGlockton (10.2) round out Boston College’s double-digit scorers.

Harris and Zackery tallied 27 and 22 points, respectively, in the Eagles’ win on Wednesday, which followed their 81-65 victory over Miami in Tuesday’s first round.

Boston College fell 72-68 to Virginia in the teams’ lone regular-season meeting on Feb. 28.

–Tanner Malinowski, Field Level Media

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