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Boston College Basketball Roundtable Predictions for the Year

Under Armour Reunion Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

What is your prediction for this year’s team?

Matt: Being overly optimistic, I would say middle of the pack in the ACC. Returning all of their top players besides AJ Turner and adding Teddy Hawkins, the Eagles could be more dangerous than in recent years. Looking at the rest of the ACC, I could see BC finishing in front of Clemson, NC State, Pitt, Georgia Tech, and at least one of Syracuse and Wake Forest. If everything goes perfectly, they could have a chance at topping one of Virginia or Virginia Tech as well.

Toppin: I think Matt’s being very optimistic here. I don’t see BC topping a powerhouse like UVA (and yes they are a powerhouse). If there’s a good sign for BC, it’s that Robinson and Bowman are a legitimate contender for best backcourt in the league. I’m also extremely high on Hawkins, as he fits into a team better than some previous year’s grad transfers who shall rename nameless. I would predict top 10 in the ACC on the aggressively optimistic side, and not bottom on the conservative side.

Katie: I think the team can take a step forward this year. ‘Tis the season for unbridled optimism, but the 2-16 conference record from last season helps to sober my outlook. I feel confident that the backcourt duo of Ky Bowman and Jerome Robinson will be one of the best in the ACC, and that the Deontae Hawkins transfer will make up for the loss of AJ Turner. I also think Nik Popovic can take a step forward and make more of an impact this season. I’ll say they grab 6 ACC wins this year, and inch closer to .500 overall.

What outcome would make you happy?

Matt: I would have to think that finishing top 8 in the ACC puts you on the bubble for the NCAA tournament and gets you into the NIT regardless, which I would like to believe is possible if everyone stays healthy and if the team plays to its potential. While being a bubble team for the NCAA tournament would be great, a realistic building block would be getting to the NIT.

Toppin: Short answer is NIT. I don’t expect to be a powerhouse or contending for a spot at the big dance, I just want growth from previous last year. Aside from that, I think I would love an upset or two over a top fifteen team to build some excitement around the team. This seems possible, as there’s been a few chances to win against team’s like UNC in previous years that were undone by youth. I think this is the year that the Eagles finish those games.

Katie: I would be thrilled with a NCAA tournament bid, but I won’t get too carried away. I would be very pleased with a 15-win season and the kind of slow and steady improvement that makes BC a more attractive destination for recruits.

Who will be the best 5-man lineup the Eagles can put on the floor?

Matt: Bowman, Robinson, Chatman, Hawkins, Mitchell. Not an overly big starting five, but one that offers four legitimate shooters, defensive versatility, and good slashing ability. Mitchell can defend the interior and can really rebound, two things the Eagles struggled with last year. If he alone can help in those two areas, BC could be much better than last year.

Toppin: Same as matt. Bowman, Robinson, Chatman, Hawkins, Mitchell is the best five that BC can trot out talent wise. It offers the best shooting and the ability to switch pretty well, but is light on defense and size. That’ll be the biggest issue for BC this year: size. Mitchell is the biggest dude out there and he’s listed at 6’8” so he’s hardly going to be able body a UNC big inside (especially as a freshman).

Katie: I’ll say Bowman, Robinson, Chatman, Hawkins, and Popovic. I might be too high on Popovic but his length and rebounding are going to be valuable against bigger teams.

Who will be the team MVP(s) this year? Most Valuable Defensive player? Biggest X Factor?

Matt: Bowman and Robinson will be the MVP’s. They’re the two best players on the roster. Teddy Hawkins was quoted this offseason as saying those two are future NBA guards. If that’s true, they could each average close to 20 PPG and 3-5 APG. Mitchell will be the most valuable defensive player. We’ve already seen Ky’s ability to defend point guards, but if Mitchell can hold opposing post players in check and control the glass, the defense will be much more sturdier. The Eagles’ biggest deficiency last year was allowing too many second chances, which Mitchell’s rebounding should alleviate. Teddy Hawkins will be the biggest X-Factor. The hottest grad transfer on the offseason market, Hawkins will bring his 40% 3-point stroke to the Heights and allow the Eagles to really stretch the floor and provide more space for Bowman and Robinson to get to the rim.

Toppin: The MVP should be Jerome Robinson. The SG is probably going to lead the Eagles in scoring. Though Bowman might be the more exciting player, this team is going to need to rely on Robinson's’ veteran leadership so that when BC inevitably does lose games they don’t get caught in a rut. Matt already named my X-factor in Hawkins, so I’ll go with Nik Popovic. If the sophomore can improve on his 3.5 rebounds off the bench it would be a huge addition to the team. DPOY for the Eagles will probably Bowman. The dude just loves to ball and gives his full effort every night, and at the end of the day that effort (combined with his athleticism) is the key to good defense.

Katie: I’ll second the Matt on Bowman and Robinson as co-MVPs. They not only have the most talent, they make eachother better. I’ll go Jordan Chatman as my X-factor. He nearly broke the ACC record for 3s made in a game vs. Va Tech last year. With Bowman and Robinson drawing a lot of attention from opposing defenses, Chatman should be able to get open. He’ll be a huge boost to scoring when he gets hot from behind the 3-point line. I hope that Mitchell will be a defensive spark, but I think Bowman will probably be the most valuable defender. Robinson will outscore him, but Bowman is the better two-way player.

What would cause the Jim Christian’s seat to get red hot?

Matt: Another disappointing non-conference portion of the schedule and not taking care of business in the ACC. We aren’t expected to beat the best teams, but if we can beat the teams that we should be better than and show continuous growth, that will go a long way.

Toppin: More of the same will get him fired. I don’t expect BC to be a powerhouse, but these teams have not been good. I know that the cupboard was bare when he got here, but if there’s not a serious step forward this year I think Jarmond will really think about changes.

Katie: A successful football season could warm up Jim Christian’s seat somewhat before his team even tips off. Martin Jarmond may be looking to shake things up at BC and with Addazio seemingly righting the football ship, the young AD might turn his sights to Christian if his squad underperforms this season.

Who is the freshman you’re most looking forward to seeing?

Matt: Mitchell, for all the reasons mentioned above. I’ve also heard that Avery Wilson and Luka Kraljevic have looked good and if they can prove to be valuable backups, the team will be much deeper. Depth is a huge concern for the Eagles this year and the deeper the team, the more successful they’ll be.

Katie: Kraljevic’s size could get him in games if he performs since the team doesn’t have quite the same consistency in talent in the front court as they do at guard. Mitchell seems like he could be the most exciting and ready to take the floor this year.

Where do Bowman and Robinson rank as a backcourt in the ACC? Nationally?

Matt: In my biased opinion, they’re the second best backcourt in the ACC and a top-5 national backcourt. Trey Duval, Grayson Allen, and Gary Trent, Jr. could be better by the end of the year, but going in, I’ll take Bowman and Robinson with their combination of explosiveness and experience. However, right now, I’d take Miami’s dominant backcourt of Bruce Brown, Lonnie Walker, and Ja’Quon Newton as the only ACC backcourt better than Ky and Jerome. On a national level, I would probably take Davonte Graham and Malik Newman of Kansas, Rawle Alkins and Allonzo Trier of Arizona, and and Marcus MacDuffie and Landry Shamet of Wichita State over Bowman and Robinson. Needless to say, Bowman and Robinson will still keep the Eagles in plenty of games, even against more talented teams.

Toppin: Homer time: I can’t name a better returning backcourt. There’s more talented backcourts made up of 5-star freshmen, but those are unknown quantities. The two have everything you want: slashing, shooting, length and athleticism. These two make it worth tuning in and showing up to games regardless of what else happens.

Katie: Jerome told reporters at ACC media day that they are “definitely” the best backcourt in the ACC, so I think we better take his word on it.

Biggest X-Factor to winning games this year?

Matt: Controlling the glass. Last year, BC gave up way too many second chances. Not allowing second chances takes the air out of the opponents and leads to many more empty possessions. On the other hand, giving up too many second chances can be frustrating and tiring.

Toppin: Student section. The best game I saw last year was against UNC when the house was packed. If they can get a serious home-court advantage, it’ll make a world of difference.

Katie: Resilience and leadership from returning players. The Eagles have had teams heavy with underclassmen in recent years and it’s easy for a group like that to get spooked by a few early losses and having to face an ACC juggernaut like Duke or Louisville. Bowman showed a lot of composure last season as a freshman and Robinson has a few seasons of experience to lean on. If they are up for embracing the leadership role, the team will be able to stay confident and scratch out some more wins.