The date was March 15, 1781 and American General Nathaniel Greene had his back against the wall.
General Cornwallis of the British army was closing quickly and set to meet Greene at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse--modern day Greensboro. The battle was short and the Americans were ultimately defeated; however, the battle was pivotal to American success in the Revolution due to the heavy casualties inflicted on Cornwallis’ forces bent on taking the South.
It is on these hallowed grounds in Greensboro, North Carolina that the Boston College men’s basketball team will seek to inflict a similar blow on the rest of the ACC. They are the underdogs, the bottom feeders of the conference, and the second to last seed in a stacked tournament; they are the 0.03%.
That is the mathematical chance of BC winning the ACC tournament. Some research can put the rest of the tournament in perspective if you find that hard to believe:
40.25% chance of getting to the 2nd round
8.67% chance of getting to the quarterfinals
1.07% chance of getting to the semifinals
0.19% chance of getting to the championship
Oh, and we have 500 to 1 odds of winning the entire NCAA tournament. So if you're a gambling man, I’d say throw a couple chucks on the Eagles and you may come out rich.
But in all seriousness, there is certainly a chance for the Eagles to follow General Greene’s example and cause some havoc on some superior foes. First, they meet Georgia Tech, a team that knocked off BC on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer. Olivier Hanlan is coming off a 29-point effort in a loss to NC State and seems poised to make this season worth at least something.
This season has been overwhelmingly disappointing for Coach Donahue’s 8-23 squad, with only one notable bright spot being the upset of Syracuse. Donahue has implored fans and his players to buy into a system that he believes will pay off, but the results are not there.
The talent gap between BC and other teams of the ACC is becoming more and more evident, hard work just isn’t doing the trick anymore. There is NBA talent 9 teams deep in the ACC and in recruiting, BC finds itself on the outside looking in. Donahue’s future with the team could hang in the balance if the Eagles make an early exit from the tournament.
That being said, the Eagles are playing for pride this week. This team is better than the four conference wins on its record, and they have played enough close games to realize that. 10 of the 14 losses have come by 10 points or less, and five of those by 5 points or less. If they can sneak past Georgia Tech, they will then face Clemson, who they lost to by only two points early in conference play. Then it’s Duke and the rest of the heavy hitters. However, at this point in the season, all of the favorites have shown some vulnerability or been upset (Maryland over Virginia, Wake Forest over Duke and UNC, and BC over Syracuse). So I’m saying there’s a chance.
This Saturday, March 15, as is the custom, smoke will fill the air as Revolutionary period rifles fire in the annual re-enactment of the Battle of Guilford Courthouse.
At the same time, just 6.6 miles down Battleground Avenue, the semifinals of the ACC men’s basketball tournament will be played at the Greensboro Coliseum.
The odds are against Boston College to still be playing on Saturday, but with smart basketball and a little bit of luck, the Eagles have the potential to topple some giants.
Follow @BCGavelSports on Twitter for the latest updates on Boston College athletics.