Brian: Boston College and N.C. State are two of three teams sitting at 2-1 in conference play through three games (joining North Carolina). But the two programs have taken very different routes to get to their current conference mark.
BC eked out a pair of 2-point home victories over Clemson and Virginia Tech, while N.C. State has notched wins over Maryland (79-74) and Wake Forest. The Eagles lost on the road to then-No. 4 North Carolina in the conference opener (83-60), while the 'Pack surprisingly dropped a home game to Georgia Tech (82-71). Further, the Wolfpack is coming off a dominant performance over Wake in Winston-Salem, one in which the Demon Deacons were more or less embarrassed on their home floor. Wake Forest managed just 17 first half points en route to a 76-40 drubbing by N.C. State.
All five of N.C. State's starters are averaging more than 12 points a game, and the 'Pack currently have the largest point differential between offensive and defensive efficiency numbers in conference. After being held out of the starting lineup, C.J. Leslie returns to the starting lineup against BC.
On paper, this looks like a W for N.C. State, especially at home. So does BC await a fate similar to Wake Forest's against N.C. State this Thursday? Or are you cautiously optimistic that the young Eagles can hang with the Wolfpack? Your thoughts?
Jeff: I do think that the Eagles will hang will North Carolina State. I am not expecting a victory, but fortunately, can not rule it out either. BC has covered the spread in every conference game this season so I am hoping and expecting to see the Eagles cover again in a competitive game. But this team is simply not going to win many conference road games this season. N.C. State is also among the top half of the league this year so it would be by far the most shocking victory of the season if the Eagles can pull it out. Fortunately, though, as we have mentioned before, the only real unbeatable teams for BC this season will be Duke and North Carolina. Both of those teams will probably finish the season with 13 or more conference wins while no other team manages more than 10 or 11.
At this point, the optimistic BC fan might think the Eagles can win seven or eight conference games since they already have two under their belt, but you would have to imagine most of those would come on the road. If BC is favored in any games the remainder of the season, there are really only three possibilities. Wake Forest, Georgia Tech and Miami at home are the only games I see the Eagles being favored in. The rest of the season BC will be playing the role of the underdog.