Boston College staggers into ACC Tournament date with Pitt
Pitt players, coaches and fans won’t offer Boston College sympathy, but perhaps there’s another team in worse shape than the Panthers heading into the first round of the ACC Tournament.
Pitt already shoved Notre Dame into last place with a 56-53 victory Saturday at Petersen Events Center. Next up is Boston College. No. 14 seed Pitt and No. 11 BC will meet at 7 p.m Tuesday in the last of three first-round games at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, N.C.
The winner gets No. 6 seed Syracuse at 9 p.m. Wednesday. Then, it would be No. 3 Duke on Thursday in what is expected to be ACC Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year Zion Williamson’s first game since suffering a knee injury Feb. 20.
Boston College ended its regular season in embarrassing fashion Saturday, losing at home — on Senior Day — to N.C. State, 73-47. It was BC’s lowest scoring output of the season and its fifth loss in the past six games.
Coach Jim Christian was brutally honest in his assessment of his team’s performance.
“I thought it was the worst effort we’ve put in all year long,” he said. “We played with no passion on Senior Day, which is sad.”
Then, Christian confirmed to CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein that freshman guard Wynston Tabbs, who missed the last 13 games of the regular season with a knee injury, will remain out through the duration of the tournament. Before his injury, Tabbs was averaging 13.9 points and 3.9 rebounds.
Boston College was 4-9 without Tabbs, but one of those victories was against Pitt at Chestnut Hill, 66-57, on Feb. 12.
Pitt coach Jeff Capel wasn’t happy about his team’s play that night. Pitt trailed by only one point until the last four minutes but ended up shooting 29 percent from the field.
Capel was near the height of his frustration at the time, trying to find a way to stop a losing streak that eventually reached 13 games.
“It was obviously a very poor offensive performance by us,” he said. “We didn’t shoot the ball well. That’s an understatement.”
But the victory against Notre Dame might give the Panthers a small boost they can carry into the tournament.
On the eve of the tournament Monday, Pitt guard Xavier Johnson was named to the ACC All-Freshman team, along with high-profile stars Williamson, RJ Barrett and Tre Jones of Duke and Coby White of North Carolina.
Johnson is the first Pitt freshman named to the team since the school joined the ACC in 2013. He holds the Pitt freshman scoring record (485 points) while leading the team in points and assists per game (15.6 and 4.6).
Capel inserted Johnson and freshman classmates Trey McGowens and Au’Diese Toney into the starting lineup while trying to counter roster deficiencies and recover from a winless (0-19) ACC season last year.
Capel is encouraged by the fact the Panthers (13-18, 3-15) kept most of the games close.
“The fans of this program are appreciative of how we’ve fought,” Capel said. “Everyone knows we’re undermanned. That’s reality.”
At least Pitt knows its coach is returning next season. Boston College (14-16, 5-13) can’t be so sure.
Christian, who was on Ralph Willard’s Pitt coaching staff from 1996-1999 and was an undergrad at Rhode Island in the ’80s at the same time as Pitt football coach Pat Narduzzi, has been under fire in recent seasons.
He will be trying to avoid his 100th loss in his fifth season at BC.
Notes: North Carolina’s Cam Johnson, who transferred from Pitt two years ago, was named to the All-ACC first team. … Clemson’s Marcquise Reed, a transfer from Robert Morris, was named to the third team. … Pitt’s Jared Wilson-Frame received three votes for ACC Sixth Man of the Year, won by Florida State sophomore Mfiondu Kabengele.
Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .