If you’re like most Boston College (BC) fans, you’ve taken the last few years off from college basketball. And who can blame you? The last time anyone saw BC Basketball have a winning season was in 2010-11 when it finished 19-11 overall and 9-7 in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). It’s been even longer since BC Basketball went dancing. The last time anyone saw BC Basketball in the NCAA Tournament was following the 2008-09 season when it lost in the first round to Taj Gibson and the USC Trojans.
The Eagles have been especially bad in conference play. Heading into this season, BC was 6-38 against ACC teams in three seasons under Coach Jim Christian. That includes going 0-18 in conference play during the 2015-16 season. BC really hopes no one saw that.
This year, however, there have already been some BC Basketball sightings reported out of Chestnut Hill. BC is 1-0 in ACC play after a surprising 89-84 early season upset of then #1 Duke back on December 9th. Add a 9-3 record in nonconference play and BC has already won more games this year (10) than last year (9). For the first time in years, there’s reason to keep an eye on BC Basketball as it heads into conference play.
Fortunately it’s not too late to get caught up on the Eagle’s season. Here’s what you’ve missed so far:
11/10: BC started off 1-0 by beating Maine 85-65 at home. This game was never in doubt thanks to 18 points from both junior guard Jerome Robinson and sophomore guard Ky Bowman.
11/12: BC improved to 2-0 by beating South Carolina State 91-52 at home. Freshman forward Steffon Mitchell led the way with 21 points on 7-9 shooting including 3-3 from 3-point range.
11/14: BC improved to 3-0 by beating Sacred Heart 73-53 at home. BC was down by 1 at halftime but ran away in the second half thanks to a halftime speech by 6’8″ forward Deontae Hawkins, a graduate transfer from Illinois State.
11/18: BC dropped to 3-1 by losing to Texas Tech 75-64 on a neutral court. Texas Tech scored 21 points on 18 turnovers, outscored BC by 14 points in the paint, and outscored BC by 22 points off the bench. Yet, BC was within 2 points with less than 3 minutes remaining before fading down the stretch.
11/19: BC improved to 4-1 by beating LaSalle 82-61 on a neutral court. BC bounced back after their first loss thanks to 18 from sophomore forward Nik Popovic, 56% shooting in the second half, and a 48-30 advantage on the boards.
11/22: BC improved to 5-1 by beating Colgate 83-79 at home. Down 14 at halftime and 17 early in the second half, BC roared back behind 26 points from Robinson and 56% shooting in the second half, including 9 of 13 from deep.
11/25: BC dropped to 5-2 by losing to Providence 86-66 in Providence, Rhode Island. Bowman and Hawkins each scored 19 but the Friars shot 59.3% from the floor including 10 of 18 from 3-point range on their way to an easy win.
11/29: BC dropped to 5-3 by losing to Nebraska 71-62 in Lincoln, Nebraska. BC lost its third-straight Big Ten-ACC Challenge game. Worse yet, BC lost its starting power forward, Hawkins, to a knee injury. Hawkins was averaging 13.6 points and 10.3 rebounds entering the game. One week later, he was ruled out for the remainder of the season.
12/2: BC improved to 6-3 by beating Hartford 73-61 in Hartford, Connecticut. Hartford took the lead with less than 7 minutes remaining but BC pulled away behind 23 points from Robinson and 21 from Bowman. Of note, Hartford alum and 4x NBA All Star Vin Baker was on hand to watch his son, BC freshman forward Vin Baker Jr., take on his alma mata. Vin Baker Jr. finished with 1 assist in 10 minutes on the court.
12/9: BC improvd to 7-3 by beating #1 Duke 89-84 at home. BC’s guards scored all but 13 of BC’s 89 points as Bowman, Robinson, and Chatman scored 30, 24, and 22 respectively. This was BC’s third straight win against the #1 team in the country. Too tough to believe? Here are the highlights:
In fact, here are the highlights of the other two too:
12/12: BC improved to 8-3 by beating Columbia 81-66 at home. BC avoids a letdown after beating Duke thanks to 21 points from Robinson and 20 from junior guard Jordan Chatman.
12/15: BC improved to 9-3 by beating Central Connecticut 84-65 at home. BC brought their record against Blue Devils to 2-0 thanks to Chatman, Bowman, Robinson, Mitchell, and Popovic all scoring in double figures.
12/23: BC improved to 10-3 by beating Richmond 78-73 in overtime at home. Chatman led the way with 30 points, including 5 of BC’s 12 points in overtime. Chatman shot 10 of 16 from the floor, 3 of 6 inside the arc and 7 of 10 from outside the arc.
After 13 games, a few things are clear. BC’s strength is it’s guards. Bowman, Robinson, and Chatman lead BC in points per game at 16.6, 16.5, and 14.3 points per game respectively. BC’s weakness is it’s depth. With Hawkins out for the season, BC moved a third guard, Chatman, into the starting lineup. The next guard off the bench is true freshman Avery Wilson, who averages 3.6 minutes and 1.7 points per game. It also takes away almost all of BC’s experience down low. The only non-freshman left who are 6’8″ or taller are Popovic and redshirt sophomore Johncarlos Reyes. Finally, BC’s unknown is whether it can win away from Chestnut Hill. BC is 8-0 at home, 1-1 on a neutral court, and 1-2 on the road.
Now that you’re caught up on BC’s season so far, here are some games to pay attention to going forward (full schedule available here):
12/30 (this Saturday): BC heads to Charlottesville to take on #9 University of Virginia (UVA) at 2:00 on the ACC Network. UVA only gives up 52.3 points per game, which is the best in college basketball. BC will have to hold Virginia’s offense in check to keep this game close and prove they can hold their own against good competition on the road.
1/9: BC heads to Chapel Hill to take on #13 North Carolina at 8:00 on the ACC Network. Regardless of what the UVA game says about BC’s ability to play on the road, it’s always worth tuning in for games against one of college basketball’s elite programs.
1/31: BC hosts Virginia Tech at 9:00 on the ACC Network. With the exception of the 2004-05 season, BC and Virginia Tech have been in the same conference since Virginia Tech joined the Big East prior to the 2000-01 season. Virginia Tech is off to a 10-2 start and has been better than BC the last couple seasons, winning the last three matchups. A win would be a good sign that BC is getting back on track.
2/10: BC hosts #15 Miami at 2:00 on the ACC Network. Everything that applied to Virginia Tech also applies to Miami except that Miami joined the Big East prior to the 1991-92 season, is off to an 11-1 start, and has won the last 12 matchups. That’s right: 12. BC’s last win over Miami was January 19, 2010. A win would be a great sign that BC is getting back on track.
2/17: BC hosts Notre Dame at 4:00 on the ACC Network. Notre Dame was voted to finish 3rd in the ACC and Notre Dame senior forward Bonzie Colson was voted the ACC Preseason Player of the Year by the ACC preseason media poll. This game is also a sort of homecoming for Colson who is originally from New Bedford, Massachusetts. It’s safe to say he’ll be ready to go. It’s also safe to say that this would be a big win for BC.
2/28: BC hosts Syracuse at 9:00 on the ACC Network. This game is not about Syracuse’s 11-2 start. Syracuse was voted to finish 10th in the ACC by the ACC preseason media poll. Beating a 10th place team is not a game changer for any program. Then again, Syracuse is not a normal program. Syracuse and BC were original members of the Big East, which was designed in 1979 around basketball. These schools play football but their athletic programs were built on basketball. A win against Syracuse is about more than a winning season; it’s about a winning tradition.
Regardless of how many of those six games BC wins, two things are already clear. First, BC’s win over Duke proves that it can beat anyone in Chestnut Hill this year. Second, BC’s 10-3 start proves that a winning record is in play for the first time in six seasons. Whether in a big game or for the season, BC Basketball has its eyes set on winning and BC fans should be there to see them do it.
So good riddance 2017. Here’s to BC Basketball in 2018!