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Boston College Vs. McNeese State: Getting To Know The Cowboys

Tonight, the Eagles face the Southland Conference's McNeese State Cowboys down in Lake Charles, La. in the First Round of the NIT. So just who are the McNeese State Cowboys?

McNeese State is a public school located in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and home to roughly 9,000 undergrads (a little bit smaller than BC's undergrad population). The school was founded in 1939 as a junior college as a division of Louisiana State University, and became known as McNeese State University in 1970. 

McNeese State's basketball program began play in 1946 and has played every year since. McNeese State started as an NAIA school, winning an NAIA Championship in 1956, and slowly worked its way up to Division I. McNeese State was a member of the Division II's Gulf States Conference until 1971, before joining Southland Conference and Division I in 1975. 

The Cowboys' most notable basketball alum is Joe Dumars. You may have heard of this guy ... 

Dumars played for McNeese State from 1981-1985 and holds the school's career records for points scored, field goals, free throws, as well as the freshman, sophomore and junior year scoring records. 

Dumars would go on to have a Hall of Fame career that spanned 15 seasons, all with the Detroit Pistons. In Detroit, Joe D was coached by the late Chuck Daly, who also coached on the Heights from 1969-71. Here is your requisite Boston College-McNeese State connection.

McNeese State will be making just its the third ever appearance in the NIT, having previously made NIT appearances in 1986 and 2001. The Cowboys have also made the NCAA Tournament twice as champions of the Southland Conference -- in 1989 and 2002.

Fast forward to present day. Tonight's game at Burton Coliseum will be the first ever NIT contest hosted at the arena. McNeese State's only other home NIT game was played at Lake Charles Civic Center. Another first: Boston College will become the first ever ACC school to play at Burton Coliseum.

McNeese State won the Southland's East Division and regular season title with a conference record of 13-6. The Cowboys would be playing in this week's NCAA Tournament if not for a 75-72 loss to Texas-San Antonio in the Southland Conference Championship Game.

The Cowboys won 15 of 16 games at home this season, dropping their only game at home to Southeastern Louisiana (81-74), 13 days ago on March 2. 

The Cowboys have four starters that averaged double digit points this year -- Patrick Richard (15.9 PPG), Diego Kapelan (15.0), Stephan Martin (10.4) and P.J. Alawoya (10.3). 

As for what to expect tonight, sounds like McNeese State has a similar style of play to Boston College. Here's what coach Dave Simmons had to say following McNeese State's 75-72 loss to UTSA in the Southland final:

"The biggest thing is that we're a perimeter oriented team. We shoot the basketball and get to the line. Tonight we didn't have our A game from perimeter. I'm proud of this team. We didn't quit and we had a chance to go up by one with a few seconds left and then we had a chance to tie it.

"It was a game in which we struggled early against their zone."

In the Southland final, McNeese State attempted 67 field goals, 30 of which were threes (45 percent). In BC's loss to Clemson, the Eagles attempted 50 shots, 24 of which were from beyond the arc (48 percent). Over the course of the season, 44 percent of BC's field goal attempts were threes (764-1749), while McNeese State only averaged 33 percent (614-1843).

Still, sounds like this one is going to be a three fest. First one to 60 wins?