Boston College takes on old rival Providence in the NIT

Boston College performed well enough in one three-letter tournament to qualify for another.

The Eagles (19-15) rolled over Miami and Clemson before falling to No. 3 seed Virginia 66-63 in overtime in the quarterfinal round at last week’s ACC tournament at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C.

The two ACC tournament wins got BC an invite to the NIT’s field of 32 teams announced on Sunday night. The Eagles will revisit their Big East roots when they take on No. 3 seed Providence College (21-13) in a regional match-up on Tuesday (7) at the Amica Mutual Pavilion in Providence, R.I.

BC had a long run in the Big East (1978-2005) before joining the ACC and this will be the 113th meeting between the two programs.

“I played there once years ago when I was with Winthrop,” said BC third year coach Earl Grant. “That was a long time ago but it was very loud and it’s going to be a big challenge.

“But it’s March and we wanted to play in March. That is the challenge we’ve got and we have to come up with a plan so that we can be excited about the game.

“That’s where we are and I’m happy we don’t have to get on a plane. I know it is a big rivalry from years ago and it is just a great opportunity.”

The Eagles closed out the regular season with road wins at Miami and Louisville, an 11th-hour effort that earned them a more favorable placement in the ACC tournament. Grant’s coaching mantra is “be playing your best basketball in March” and his players bought in, earning BC’s 13th NIT bid and first since 2018.

Providence had a similar run in the Big East tournament under first year coach Kim English. The Friars knocked off Georgetown and Creighton before falling to Marquette in the semifinals.

“We wanted to finish strong and be playing our best in March,” said Grant. “We’ve got five games left and you are either going to win them or lose them. Against Virginia, we were in position to win that one. I was happy to finish the way we did.”

Grant has a short turnaround to get his club ready to face a formidable opponent in a hostile house against a team with a glacier sized chip on its shoulder. The Friars were outspokenly put off at being snubbed by the NCAA tournament selection committee on Sunday night.

“You have got to do the best you can,” said Grant. “Both teams got a short turnaround and they are really hard to guard and we are hard to guard too.

“I think it is a prep for both teams in short period of time. But when you are playing in the post season, that is what you are going to experience. I would rather be playing than sitting at home watching these games.”

Both squads will put a dominant player from their respective conferences on the floor. BC 7-foot pivotman Quinten Post was a second-team All-ACC performer who started 33 games and averaged 17.0 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. Post describes himself as a “modern big” and he has 48 made three-point shots and 99-of-121 free throws to make his case.

PC guard Devin Carter was a Big East first-team selection who started 33 games and averaged 19.7 points per game and made 84 three-point shots.

“He is going to be one of the best guys we’ve seen,” said Grant. “You have to put him in that category as one of those really special guards.”

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