Typically when things don't go well, teams have a tendency to snap back in the complete opposite direction. We've seen this with the program's new assistant coaching hires and now with the non-conference schedule.
On Wednesday, the Boston College men's basketball team released the 2014-15 non-conference portion of the schedule. A year removed from "doing all the maths" and assembling a challenging non-conference schedule in the hopes that it would push BC onto the right side of the NCAA Tournament bubble -- only to have that plan backfire in spectacular fashion -- this year's non-conference schedule is much more manageable and frankly, appropriate for the roster of talent returning.
The Eagles will play eight (of 12) non-conference games within the friendly confines of Conte Forum. This is a welcome change from last season, where BC played just four home non-conference games -- one of which was against a Division II program and all of them were on odd days and strange start times.
Even better, the Eagles will not play a true road game in non-conference play. The remaining four games are all neutral site contests -- three in Puerto Rico as part of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, and the fourth, the Commonwealth Classic vs. UMass at TD Garden. Last year, BC went 3-11 in road games -- Syracuse tho -- and just 1-4 in neutral site contests.
The most difficult portion of the schedule will come in late November/early December. Boston College will travel to Puerto Rico for the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, where the Eagles will play three of Dayton, Connecticut, Texas A&M, New Mexico, George Mason, West Virginia and Charleston. That's a pretty solid holiday tournament field, headlined by the defending national champs but also including Dayton and New Mexico, both NCAA Tournament teams from a season ago. If I had to wager a guess, another BC-UConn matchup in the first round of the "Classic" seems all but assured.
In a strange twist, the Eagles replacement game for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge matchup is a home contest vs. Marist. Last month, ESPN's Jeff Goodman reported that former coach Steve Donahue turned down an offer to coach the Red Foxes. Marist finished the year 12-19 overall, 9-11 in the MAAC.
The difficult late November/early December stretch of games concludes with a home game against Ed Cooley and the Friars, the 109th meeting between the two long-time New England rivals. Providence won last year's contest, 82-78, in overtime.
I don't understand the insistence on playing UMass at the Garden in the Good for New England (TM) game. That game needs to return to campus ... any campus. I also don't understand why you'd put the game on a Sunday afternoon with a 3 p.m. tip, competing directly with the NFL's afternoon games. The Pats play at the Colts in the Sunday night game, but still. BC and UMass should play annually; just not in front of a 1/4 (at best)-filled Garden. The two programs deserve better.
The season begins on November 14, with a home date vs. New Hampshire. Providence (12/5), Maine (12/11), Binghamton (12/14), USC (12/21), UMass-Lowell (12/29) and Harvard (1/14) all come to Conte Forum as well. Nitpicky, but hate to see the USC game fall over winter break. At least the PC and Harvard games will be played when students are on campus.
Overall a very manageable non-conference schedule; one that's wholly appropriate for where this team is at under first-year coach Jim Christian. This is a pretty solid scheduling blueprint to follow for the next 1-2 years as Christian brings his guys into the program. Hopefully the non-conference portion of the schedule only ramps up from here.
11/14 New Hampshire
11/16 vs. Massachusetts @ TD Garden
11/20 vs. Charleston / Connecticut / Dayton / George Mason / New Mexico / Texas A&M / West Virginia in San Juan, P.R.
11/21 vs. Charleston / Connecticut / Dayton / George Mason / New Mexico / Texas A&M / West Virginia in San Juan, P.R.
11/23 vs. Charleston / Connecticut / Dayton / George Mason / New Mexico / Texas A&M / West Virginia in San Juan, P.R.
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