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    ‘BC’ and ‘NCAA Tournament’ can be mentioned in the same sentence

    Boston College's Steffon Mitchell (41) grabs a rebound in front of Clemson's Shelton Mitchell (4) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Boston, Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018. Clemson won 74-70. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
    michael dwyer/ap
    BC is 3-3 in the ACC and needs to improve on that.

    The clock travels with them everywhere. It hangs in the locker room. It goes on road trips and sits on the bench. It doesn’t provide the time of day; instead, it counts down the hours and minutes until Selection Sunday, the day when the field for the NCAA Tournament will be selected.

    The idea that such a clock belongs to Boston College is surprising, to say the least. No one considered BC a possible NCAA team when the season began. I mean NO ONE.

    Coach Jim Christian had someone make the clock because he wants his players to know, as he says, “We’re playing for something. Why wouldn’t we want them to dream big? I want those guys to pursue that with everything they have. I want them to dream big.’’


    BC should be in the conversation for the NCAA Tournament. It’s a statement I never thought I would make in mid-January.

    The BC countdown clock
    The BC countdown clock.
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    The Eagles are 13-6 overall, 3-3 in the ACC, with two excellent home-court victories over Duke and Florida State. Sounds like they’re building a résumé, right?

    It was the Florida State victory Monday night that started changing my thoughts, but we need to be empirical about this, so I turned to a master, Joe Lunardi of ESPN. Lunardi invented bracketology and he’s still the best there is at it, even though many other people are involved in their own version.

    Right now, according to Lunardi, the Eagles are not in — and they have some serious work to do.

    Here’s how Lunardi sees BC at this point:


      Currently No. 84 on his board (16 spots away from the at-large cut line).

      Classic profile of an NIT team (e.g., middle to sub-middle team in great conference).

      Will finish .500 or more likely a little below in that conference, needing 2-3 conference tournament wins to be on the board.

      Has one good and one really good win, both at home, but an 0-6 record against other power teams.

      They need much more to overcome their nonconference strength of schedule (No. 299), which makes them only 6-6 against Top 200.


    Christian accepts that information as realistic but said, “It’s mid January and I think it’s fantastic that we can actually have a conversation about this. It shows we’re having a really good season, but those things change daily, they change game by game.

    “The only thing we can focus on is our two-game road swing.’’

    That starts Sunday with a noon tipoff against Louisville (Ch. 38) at the Pitino Palace, then continues Wednesday at Syracuse (7 p.m., ESPNU) in the Air Conditioner Unit.

    .   .   .

    Other games I’d like to see this weekend:


    Wichita State at Houston: The Shockers took a decisive loss to SMU at home and now face a difficult opponent on the road. The one advantage is that Houston is playing its home games at Texas Southern this season because its arena in being refurbished. The crowds are not swarming to games.

    Ohio State at Minnesota: Two teams definitely headed in opposite directions. The Buckeyes are one of the surprise teams of the season. A win in Minny’s Barn will stamp them as a possible Big 10 championship contender.

    Texas at West Virginia: The Longhorns have shown some life with victories over TCU and Texas Tech, but a trip to Morgantown might be too much to ask.

    Xavier at Seton Hall: At one time, these two were considered threats to Villanova in the Big East. That’s no longer true, but this will be a close, taut matchup in beautiful downtown Newark.

    Arizona at Stanford: Stanford has come alive in conference play but I don’t think the Cardinal are up to this challenge.

    TCU at Kansas State: TCU’s great start is going to be nullified by the knee injury to point guard Jaylen Fisher. Without him, they won’t be able to win in the Little Apple.

    Missouri at Texas A&M: A&M finally snapped out of its slump by beating Mississippi. The Aggies can’t fall back into bad habits or they’ll lose here.

    Tennessee at South Carolina: The Gamecocks are coming off a victory over Kentucky. They have to capitalize on that momentum and beat another good opponent at home.

    Middle Tennessee at Western Kentucky: Big game in CUSA. Middle needs some big numbers from Sully’s Court favorite Giddy Potts.

    Florida at Kentucky: Two talented, inconsistent teams, so it’s tough to predict, and that’s what makes it interesting. The Playaz obviously have an advantage in Lexington.

    Boise State at Nevada: First place is at stake in the Mountain West.


    Canisius at Iona: My MAAC team needs to come up big on the road. It will be a major challenge.

    Joe Sullivan can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GlobeSullivan