Jim Christian’s first year at Boston College didn’t feature a postseason appearance, but the Eagles were often pesky and won four games in a row late in the season before bowing out in the second round of the ACC tournament.
Yet three starters from that 13-19 team graduated and Olivier Hanlan, the league’s leading scorer, turned pro after his junior season. Only two regulars returned, and Christian was left to truly start building the foundation of a program this year.
It’s proven every bit as challenging as expected in Chestnut Hill, where Boston College entered Tuesday night’s game against North Carolina with a 7-16 record. Even more glaring is the 0-10 conference record, the worst start to league play for any ACC team since 1990.
The absence of upperclassmen outside of graduate student Eli Carter and junior Garland Owens combined with depth issues exacerbated by Broughton High graduate Jerome Robinson’s wrist injury has proven a predictably trying combination. The Eagles have not played the other three teams (Georgia Tech, N.C. State and Wake Forest) buried at the bottom of the ACC standings, either.
Put it all together, and Boston College is just the eighth team in conference history to drop its first 10 league games (1954 Clemson, winless in the ACC’s inaugural year, gets off on the technicality it played only nine league contests). It isn’t a particularly flattering group of teams the Eagles have joined:
1955 Clemson: After losing their first nine ACC games the previous year, the Tigers went 0-14 in the league’s second season. Clemson finished with at least 10 league losses in half of the ACC’s 62 previous seasons (the most, by far, of any school), but the mid-1950s was arguably the program’s least competitive stretch.
1970 Virginia: The Cavaliers dropped their first 10 ACC games, only to win three of their last four and then upset second-seeded North Carolina in the league tournament. It was a precursor to considerable improvement. The Cavaliers briefly cracked the national rankings the following January and went 21-7 and reached the NIT in 1972 with Barry Parkhill.
1980 Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets’ introduction to the ACC was an 11-game conference losing streak and a 1-13 mark in the league. Although they pushed Albert King and Maryland to overtime in the ACC quarterfinals, a worse season soon awaited.
1981 Georgia Tech: If the early Clemson teams weren’t the worst in ACC history, these Yellow Jackets were. They went 0-14 in the league, losing by an average of 23.9 points per game. Overall, they were an ugly 4-23 in the last season before Bobby Cremins’ arrival.
1986 Wake Forest: It was the wrong year to be even the slightest bit down, and Bob Staak’s first Demon Deacons team paid for it with an 0-14 conference record. It was the first of five consecutive seasons Wake Forest would drop at least 11 ACC contests.
1987 Maryland: In the wake of Len Bias’ death, the Terrapins hired Bob Wade in late October and didn’t begin their schedule until after Christmas. Maryland went winless in the conference, though eight of the 14 losses came by single digits, and they would make the NCAA tournament the following year before collapsing again in 1989.
1990 Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons dropped their first 11 ACC games under Dave Odom, but won their last three to show some hope. Rodney Rogers arrived the following fall, and Wake Forest began a run of seven consecutive NCAA appearances and 16 years in a row with an NCAA or NIT invitation in 1991.
With its self-imposed postseason ban, Louisville will become only the fourth team in the ACC’s history not to participate in the league’s basketball tournament. Who were the other three?
Deacons’ long road
Wake Forest (10-13, 1-10) is a program that, much like Boston College, is mired in a rebuilding project spanning nearly this entire decade. The Demon Deacons have dropped eight in a row since toppling N.C. State on Jan. 10, and road woes continue to plague them.
Over the last six seasons, Wake Forest is 3-51 against ACC opponents away from Winston-Salem, having knocked off Boston College (2012), Virginia Tech (2014) and Notre Dame (2014 ACC tournament in Greensboro). That mark could get worse as the Deacons visit Georgia Tech, N.C. State and Pittsburgh in a seven-day span starting Wednesday.
In addition to this year’s Louisville team, 1961 North Carolina (19-4, 12-2 ACC), 1991 Maryland (16-12, 5-9) and 2015 Syracuse (18-13, 9-9) did not participate in their respective season’s ACC tournament