Boston College

The Acc

November 18, 2005|By PAUL MCMULLEN

Coach: Al Skinner, ninth season at school (147-100), 18th overall (285-226)

2004-05 record: 25-5, 13-3 (tied for first in Big East; NCAA second round)

Returning starters: Junior F Jared Dudley, senior G Louis Hinnant, junior G Sean Marshall, senior F Craig Smith

Sun prediction: NCAA Sweet 16

Why it will happen: Miami and Virginia Tech, bottom feeders in the Big East, had an easier-than-anticipated transition to the ACC, and BC is better equipped to make that jump. Dudley and Smith are regarded by many as the nation's top forward combination, as they combined for 34.5 points and 16.0 rebounds last season. Smith is 6 feet 7, but 250 pounds, and with an abundance of inside savvy. Marshall is a three-year starter on the wing. All three are from Southern California and comfortable in strange gyms, one reason the Eagles had been the toughest team on the Big East road in recent years. Hinnant is a four-year starter at the point.

Why it might not: BC started 20-0 last season and got to No. 3 in the rankings, but it went .500 the rest of the way and lost to 12th-seeded Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the second round of the NCAA tournament. Sean Williams, a 6-10 sophomore who had a school-record 63 blocks last season, was suspended from school for the first semester, so the team that comes to Comcast Center will probably have Smith at center. That game will be a homecoming for Hinnant, who played his high school ball in Prince George's County. If he shoots 33.3 percent from the field, as he did last season, opponents will pack it in on Smith even more.

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