Brian: My boy Joe Trapani - pictured above - put up 22 and 11 in an Eagles rout of the San Francisco Dons Monday night - 84-62. The Eagles have one more non-conference game tomorrow against Sacred Heart before opening up conference play with, umm, No. 1 North Carolina. Ouch. Last season the Eagles started the season with a 9-4 out of conference record, losing to Kansas, Providence, Massachusetts and a WTF loss to Robert Morris. Two seasons ago, the Eagles also notched a 9-4 out of conference record, but managed to get to 19 wins adding 10 ACC victories. Last year, the Eagles sputtered down the stretch, starting 3-0 in conference but finishing on a 1-12 skid to end the ACC regular season.
Long story short, this season the Eagles will likely take a 13-2 record (assuming wins over Sacred Heart and Harvard) into ACC play. So two questions Jeff: is this season's regular season out of conference record a sign of improvement, and what, if anything will be different this season in ACC play?
Jeff: The early out of conference play this season has been a success. We survived with no WTF losses and might have one or two wins against teams that will ultimately make the Dance. As you pointed out we failed to make it through 13 games without any WTF losses so you should be excited about the BC men's basketball team this year. The team's last two games have also shown signs of improvement because they have won both games without the outcome ever being in doubt. Earlier in the season BC was beating teams that we expected them to beat but did not necessarily lead throughout the game.
I have been trying to tell you to get excited about the basketball team this year and now that we are getting to conference play I will soon finally have some concrete evidence to make you believe. Unfortunately, the Eagles opens at North Carolina which will almost certainly be a loss and a bad loss at that. After that the schedule doesn't really ever get easy playing in the ACC with Wake Forest coming to Chestnut Hill for our third conference game. After that we might be almost through January or into February before BC has an above .500 conference record and people start getting excited about BC and talk about them making the dance.
To answer your question, BC is a much, much improved team from last year so you should look for some significant improvement in ACC this season compared to last. Last year, BC wasn't quite as bad as their record but the young team gave up once it was clear that they were not going to have any postseason whatsoever. 8-8 or better in conference is very realistic this season.
Brian: 8-8 might be a bit optimistic at this point considering we have 5 games with this week's ranked ACC teams (North Carolina, Duke, Clemson and Wake Forest x2) and four more against teams getting votes in the AP Poll (Maryland, Florida State and Miami (FL) x2), but I like your enthusiasm. And while I don't think it will happen, the Eagles still have two more opportunities for a WTF loss in Sacred Heart (today at 2pm) and January 7 against Harvard.