No. 9 Virginia has rebounded from its lone loss of the season with three straight runaway wins. The Cavaliers will try to carry that success into ACC play when they begin their conference slate at home against surging Boston College on Saturday.
The Eagles are the only team with an ACC win, having stunned then-No. 1 Duke earlier this month, but they will be challenged by a Cavaliers squad that has held opponents to an average of 51.7 points during its three-game run. “I think we are finding our identity,” Virginia senior forward Isaiah Wilkins told reporters after an 82-48 rout of Hampton on Dec. 22. “To me it’s the hustle plays, and things like that. We’ll grow from these types of games. ACC play is going to be tough so we just have to be ready to accept that challenge.” The win over Duke was one of five straight for Boston College, which needs just one ACC win to match last season’s total. The Eagles needed overtime to keep the streak alive its last time out against Richmond, riding junior guard Jordan Chatman’s career high-matching 30 points to a 78-73 triumph.
TV: 2 p.m. ET, NESN, RSN
ABOUT BOSTON COLLEGE (10-3, 1-0 ACC): Chatman’s big effort gives him an average of 21.8 points over the last four games, during which he is 19-for-33 from 3-point distance. He sits behind sophomore guard Ky Bowman (16.6) and junior guard Jerome Robinson (16.5) on the team’s scoring list, while freshman forward Steffon Mitchell has manned the boards of late with 32 rebounds over the last three contests. Robinson had nine points on 4-of-14 shooting with zero assists and four turnovers in last season’s 71-54 loss at home to Virginia.
ABOUT VIRGINIA (11-1, 0-0): Sophomore guard Kyle Guy leads the way with 16.1 points per game while shooting 45.3 percent from 3-point range. Wilkins tops the team in rebounding (6.9), steals (16) and blocks (14), and the Cavaliers are excited about the development of freshman guard De‘Andre Hunter, who had 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting against Hampton and has impressed on the defensive end. “I think you guys saw both sides of the ball today,” fellow guard Ty Jerome told reporters of Hunter. “You saw him defensively, spreading out. ... And of course, you saw him break out offensively, and that’s what he’s going to do when he gets the opportunity.”
1. Bowman is averaging 19 points on 52.1 percent shooting during the Eagles’ five-game winning streak.
2. Cavaliers G Devon Hall has 16 total points over his last two games after averaging 16.8 in the previous five outings.
3. Virginia has won four straight meetings, all by double digits.
PREDICTION: Virginia 72, Boston College 59