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Plenty for them to guard against

MILWAUKEE -- Boston College will be en garde for today's NCAA Tournament matchup against No. 3 seed Georgia Tech (24-9) at the Bradley Center when the sixth-seeded Eagles (24-9) encounter a Yellow Jackets squad loaded with physical and athletic guards, led by 6-foot-4-inch junior B.J. Elder and 6-3 sophomore Jarrett Jack.

"Definitely, this is going to be guard-oriented defense tactics against Georgia Tech," said BC junior guard Jermaine Watson, who was partly responsible for shutting down Utah's Nick Jacobson (8 points on 3-for-18 shooting) in Friday's 58-51 first-round triumph in the St. Louis bracket. "Obviously, the big men always help us out when the guards get in trouble, but the guards definitely have to be the ones who step up and play tenacious defense."

Said BC sophomore point guard Louis Hinnant, "I think we definitely are going to have to assert ourselves on the defensive end. They get a lot from their guards. Their guards get a lot in transition and try to get a lot of easy buckets. It's going to be up to our guards to try and stop them in transition and limit their easy buckets and try to make 'em play against a set defense."

Asked which Tech guard posed the toughest matchup, Watson said it was Elder or 6-foot junior backup Will Bynum, an Arizona transfer. "Bynum is a burst of speed out there who'll shoot the ball at any time or pull up from deep," Watson said. "But we just have to be ready to guard all of them."

See you soon BC, which will be leaving the Big East to join the Atlantic Coast Conference in July 2005, will play its third game of the season against a future ACC opponent. The Eagles suffered a 72-62 loss at Clemson Dec. 30 but rebounded with a 66-65 overtime win at home over North Carolina State Jan. 20. And while there has been a feeling in the ACC that the league helped itself in football but hurt itself in basketball by adding Miami, Virginia Tech, and BC, the Eagles are hoping to dispel any such notion. "We played a couple of ACC teams during the season and beat N.C. State, which was No. 2 in the conference," said sophomore forward Craig Smith. "Hopefully, we'll beat Georgia Tech. When we go in [to the ACC], we are going to make a strong statement." . . . If BC wins today, the Eagles will make their eighth Sweet 16 appearance (BC is 3-4 in the regional semifinals). The winner, however, could have an inside track to an Elite Eight berth after 10th-seeded Nevada cleared out second-seeded Gonzaga with an 91-72 upset yesterday . . . BC's 20 assists on 23 field goals in Friday's win marked the seventh time this season the Eagles have had 20 assists in a game . . . Steve Hailey and Smith were eager to reunite with former Worcester Academy teammate Jack. "It's going to be a pretty interesting game from that point of view," Smith said. "Going against one of your teammates and one of your friends." Said Hailey: "I remember we all used to go at it up at the old gym. No fouls. No rules. No nothing. It was all about basketball." Jack, Smith, and Hailey were part of an impressive array of talent assembled by then-coach Mo Cassara that made it all the way to the final of the New England Prep School championship, where Worcester Academy was defeated. "You know who they lost to?" asked BC associate head coach Bill Coen. "It was New Hampton Prep . . . with Rashad McCants [now at North Carolina]. New England prep schools, a lot of people don't realize that a lot of good players go through these schools."

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BC vs Georgia Tech
Game time: 2:15 p.m., at Bradley Center, Milwaukee
Records: No. 6 BC 24-9, No. 3 Georgia Tech 24-9
Last 10: BC 8-2; Georgia Tech 6-4
 AT A GLANCE: Boston College vs. Georgia Tech
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