Welcome back to another installment of Boston College Eagles basketball. This weekend, the Eagles will host their first game of the season at Conte Forum against a familiar ACC opponent, the Syracuse Orange.
Syracuse is off to a decent start to their season - they currently hold a 3-1 record with their only loss coming against #21 Rutgers. As for their wins, they come against some mid to low-tier opponents. This includes a close win in the season opener against Bryant and two blow out wins against Niagara and Rider. Keeping in mind their opponents, Boeheim’s defense has been one of the best in the NCAA. The Orange have only given up 65 PPG on average, with their best defensive performance coming against Niagara, where they only gave up 45 total points. A lot of that credit has to be given to forwards Alan Griffin and Quincy Guerrier who combined have an eye-grabbing stat line of 34.3 PPG | 16.8 RPG | 2.1 STL through their first four games. However, the highlight of this team from an offensive perspective is Boeheim Jr. (Buddy Boeheim) who is playing ~38 minutes a game and averaging 21 points per contest.
When it comes to their one loss of the season, Boeheim was quick to blame his defensive lapses. He chalked up the loss to poor transition defense and costly turnovers as the catalysts in propelling Rutgers to their fourth victory of the season. Interestingly enough, however, Rutgers had a wider margin in turnovers for the game with 17 to the Orange’s 12. The Orange were also not able to get anything going from beyond the arc in the loss, shooting a meager 26.9%.
The Eagles will have to take notes from the Rutgers game if they want any chance of getting their first ACC win of the season. This means capitalizing in transition offense, dominating the pace of the game and not giving Boeheim’s squad a chance to set up their infamous zone defense. Ky Bowman was able to find success against this defense in the past with his speed to the cup and I would expect Langford, Heath and Tabbs to be effective in cutting through the defense to the hoop in this contest. The issue will really lie in ball security in those cuts to the hoop. Currently, the Eagles average 15.2 TOs per game which simply is not going to cut it if this team has any chance of flipping the script on their season. Tabbs holds the lead for the Eagles in the turnover department averaging 3 a game - definitely not an accolade he is proud of. Boston College will need to keep from rushing their shots, which has unfortunately become a common occurrence. The Eagles also need to not give up the ball as frequently as they have been in order keep the Orange from striking in transition.
Also, can I point out that BC is shooting horrendously from the line? As of today, the Eagles are shooting at 64.5% on free throws. In ACC basketball that is something that NEEDS to change against these top-tier division rivals.
I hope you chose to side with me on my betting against Minnesota last time out, as both of my predictions hit for the first time this season! So I am running the gamblers high and willing to offer my betting advice again with a prediction on the outcome of this game. Vegas currently has BC as a small underdog at +4 with an O/U of 148.5 at the time of this writing. Both of those lines seem pretty on par based off of Boeheim’s style of play and BC’s inconsistency in the scoring department. With that said, I plan on taking the points and the under in this one. Given it is BC’s first ACC match of the season and the Eagles are finally under the lights of their home court, I have a feeling that BC will be able to squeak a win past the Orange. It will be a tough defensive matchup for both sides and the winner will come down to who can limit their turnovers, win in transition and shoot effectively. Coach Christian has seen Boeheim’s defense for years now and has foiled it a few times in his tenure at BC. I expect him to come out ready and hand an upset to the Orange.
Prediction: Boston College 72 - Syracuse 68