2011-12 Boston College Basketball Preview: Breaking Down The Schedule

GREENSBORO, NC - MARCH 10: The Boston College Eagles cheerleaders and their mascot Baldin the Eagle perform during the second half of the game against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons in the first round of the 2011 ACC men's basketball tournament at the Greensboro Coliseum on March 10, 2011 in Greensboro, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Last week we took a look at all the new faces on this year's Boston College Eagles basketball roster. Let's take a closer look at each of BC's 2011-12 opponents. Below, we break down the Eagles' 2011-12 slate based on results from last season. Using last year's final kenpom rankings, let's divide the schedule up into four buckets.

The Wins (kenpom 200+) -- last year's results

306 Bryant (9-21) -- W 93-77
291 New Hampshire (12-18)
271 vs. UC-Riverside* (12-19)
264 Sacred Heart (11-18)
251 Wake Forest (8-24) -- 2-0 vs. Wake
251 at Wake Forest (8-24) -- 2-0 vs. Wake Forest
232 at Holy Cross (8-21) -- W 69-54
216 Stony Brook (15-17)

Even though this BC squad is extremely young and could lose any one of these games, you have to look at these eight opponents as a chance for the Eagles to notch a few wins. That includes ACC foe Wake Forest, who returns three starters and gets from last year's 8-24 squad. The Deacons also get Tony Chennault back from injury. The Eagles will only face the UC-Riverside Highlanders if they lose their first round game against Saint Louis in the 76 Classic out in Anaheim.

Boston College should conceivably win every one of the above non-conference games and hope for a split with Wake Forest, who will be better than last year. If BC loses to Saint Louis in the 76 Classic Opener and 'Nova handles UC-Riverside, I'd imagine the Eagles could knock off the Highlanders, too.

The Lower Tier (kenpom 94-195) 

195 Massachusetts (15-15) -- W 76-71
171 Boston University (21-14) 
137 vs. Oklahoma* (14-18)
122 vs. Saint Louis (12-19)
120 Rhode Island (20-14) -- L 69-67
111 vs. Santa Clara* (24-14)
96 at Providence (15-17) -- W 88-86
94 at Virginia (16-15) -- 2-0 vs. Virginia

In this group, we have all three of the Eagles' more local rivals -- Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Providence -- as well as a game against Boston University (and former Donahue assistant Joe Jones). The Eagles could draw either Oklahoma or Santa Clara in the third round of the 76 Classic (Washington State and New Mexico are the other two).  

Although Virginia comes in at #94 on this list, the Cavs are projected to finish fourth in the ACC this season, though I'll believe this when I see it. The Eagles only have one game against the Cavaliers this season after sweeping the regular season series last year.

The Upper Tier (kenpom 47-91)

91 N.C. State (15-16) -- W 75-66
91 at N.C. State (15-16) -- W 75-66
89 Georgia Tech (13-18) -- W 86-75
89 at Georgia Tech (13-18) -- W 86-75
83 Harvard (23-7) -- L 78-69
62 vs. Washington State* (22-13)
58 Miami (21-15) -- 0-2 vs. Miami
58 at Miami (21-15) -- 0-2 vs. Miami
47 vs. New Mexico* (22-13)

The good news in this group is that of the three home-and-home series in the ACC, all three opponentswill be breaking in first year head coaches. The bad news is that the cupboard is certainly not bare down in Miami, where Jim Larranaga takes over for Frank Haith. Even worse, the Eagles went 0-2 against the Canes last season, and that was with a roster full of seniors. 

Harvard is back on the schedule for the fourth consecutive year and the Eagles will look to break a three-game losing streak to the Crimson. Let's hope that Harvard getting in BC's head has left with the outgoing senior class.

If the Eagles end up facing either Washington State or New Mexico in the third round of the 76 Classic, they are doing something right.

The Hail Marys (kenpom 2-37)

37 Penn State (19-15)
36 at Maryland (19-14) -- 2-0 vs. Maryland
34 Virginia Tech (22-12) -- 2-0 vs. Virginia Tech
34 at Virginia Tech (22-12) -- 2-0 vs. Virginia Tech
33 vs. Villanova* (21-12)
31 Florida State (23-11) -- L 67-51
22 Clemson (22-12) -- 0-2 vs. Clemson
12 at North Carolina (29-8) -- 0-2 vs. North Carolina
2 Duke (32-5) -- L 84-48

Frankly, it would be pretty notable if the Eagles can pull off the upset in any of these games. This year's schedule breaks favorable for the Eagles when you consider that BC draws Duke, North Carolina, Florida State and Clemson -- teams that this program went 0-6 against and were generally non-competitive, with the exception of the second UNC game -- just once this season. BC also benefits from getting Duke, Clemson and Florida State at home this year. 

The Eagles will also look to maintain their perfect record in the ACC-Big Ten (or Big Ten-ACC, lost track) Challenge as they host the Penn State Nittany Lions, a program that also has a significant amount of roster turnover.

But like I said, it wouldn't surprise me if this team goes 0-8 or 0-9 against this slate of opponents. BC could steal a game in this group when you consider Penn State and Maryland are breaking in new coaches, and Virginia Tech loses a bunch of talent to graduation, but I wouldn't expect many, if any, wins against these teams.

Overall

While some may bemoan the lack of a home game against a quality non-conference opponent or a soft sched both in conference and out of conference, I am perfectly fine with this schedule. I think this is a solid schedule considering where this program is at. This should give Donahue and his young team an opportunity to notch a few wins early and build some confidence heading into conference play.

A double digit win total, including 3-4 wins in ACC play probably isn't out of the question. The Eagles may very well play the role of spoiler against one of the conference's better programs, especially given Donahue's style of play. As Donahue's Disciples would say, citing scripture, "And then God said, 'Let there be 3s,' and the 3s were good." Steve 1:3.

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