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Boston College Men’s Basketball Preview: Running with the USF Bulls

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The Eagles look to grab the bulls by the horns

NCAA Basketball: ACC Conference Tournament-Boston College vs Pittsburgh
Eagles look to maintain their winning ways as they travel to Tampa to play South Florida
Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The Eagles are flying high after a strong opening night victory over conference foe Wake Forest. BC’s young squad showed a lot of talent and grit as they held off a late run by the Demon Deacons. BC hopes to carry that momentum with them to Tampa for this Sunday’s matchup with the University of South Florida Bulls. The Bulls, who are returning plenty of talent from last year’s team, provide the Eagles with an early season chance to demonstrate their potential.

Previewing USF

The Bulls are a relatively young program, having only started playing basketball games in 1971. USF finished 8th in the AAC last year, with 8-10 conference record and a 24-14 overall record. USF has not reached the NCAA tournament since 2012 but they did win the College Basketball Invitational this past season.

The Bulls will be without 2019’s AAC Freshman of the Year, Alexis Yetna for the rest of the season due to a knee injury. Yetna led the conference in rebounds with 9.6 per game and fifteen double-doubles. He also led the team with a field goal percentage of 53.9%. However, the Eagles will still have plenty to contend with.

Even without Yetna, the Bulls have a dynamic duo in the form of guards David Collins and Laquincy Rideau. Collins was USF’s leading scorer last season with 15.9 pts per game and Rideau was their second leading scorer with 13.4 ppg. Rideu also led the team in assists and steals last year. With the loss of Yetna, Collins and Rideau have become the main cogs in the USF offense machine. Between the two players they are leading the team in points (Collins), rebounds (Rideau), blocks (Collins), steals (Rideau), and assists (Collins)

Player to Watch Out For

With all that talk about Collins and Rideau, I believe the player to watch is Justin Brown. Brown is currently second on the team in scoring and tied with Collins for the most rebounds, with four. Brown is also shooting 57.1% from the field and an impressive 60% from 3. I believe the Eagles have the talent at guard to keep Collins and Rideau in check, so it is likely that USF will look to Brown to make up for any decreased output from the duo. It will be down to Steffon Mitchell and the rest of the Eagles’ forwards to keep Brown in check.

How Does BC win?

With USF’s talent at guard, the Eagles will need bigs like Nik Popovic to control the paint at both ends. With no news (at the time this article was written) about the status of Jairus Hamilton who seemed to injure his knee against Wake Forest, we may be looking for CJ Felder’s to take on a bigger work load. If the bigs can hold down the paint, then the Eagles’ guards can focus on Collins and Rideau. Heath and Thornton need to continue to play well, and I’d like to see Felder step up to fill the void if Hamilton cannot play.

Predictions:

BC 74 – USF 69