Your Boston College Eagles avoided day one of the ACC Tournament to line up a match against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. The teams have split the season series with one-point wins for each of them. The Eagles’ win was the first at Notre Dame since 1997, while the Irish won just eight days ago on a last second basket by TJ Gibbs. Neither of these teams have any real shot of making the Big Dance, so this one is solely for bragging rights.
#10 Seeded Boston College (13-18, 7-13 ACC)
#7 Seeded Notre Dame (19-12, 10-10)
Wednesday March 11, 2020
7 pm EST
Greensboro, North Carolina
How to Watch
You can watch this game on ESPN2, so please refer to your local listings or just get the stream here!
How to Listen
WEEI 93.7 FM
Previewing the Irish
The Irish have never made it easy on the Eagles this year, even in their loss when they nearly came back despite trailing since early in the first half. That’s primarily because of First Team All-ACC F John Mooney, a redshirt senior who feels like he’s been around since 2004. Mooney’s averaged 19 points and 15 rebounds against the Eagles this year, bullying any player the Eagles have sent against him in the post. Mooney’s inside presence has paved the way for TJ Gibbs, another senior, who is shooting over 42% from deep this year. Gibbs, however, has been streaky all year, often following up 20+point performances with single digit duds. BC will have to hope for the latter.
Notre Dames does a few things well as a team. First, they don’t really foul (or at least they don’t get called for fouls. I watched that last game between these two teams) – opponents average just 12 FTA per game against them. They also pass the ball around incredibly effectively, with all three of their primary guards averaging over 3 assists per game . Over half of their field goals are assisted, and they’ve got the third best turnover percentage in the game at just 12.4%.
Player to Watch
John Mooney has torn this team asunder every time they have played, and I see no reason to think that it won’t happen again. To make matters worse, Nik Popovic is projected to be out with his back injury, and both Jairus and Jared Hamilton were questionable as of earlier this week with leg injuries.
BC’s Best Chance to Win
I have no idea. This team needs a serious injection of momentum, and quite frankly I can only see that happening if they come out on fire from three and can sustain it for the entire first half. When the shots inevitably stop falling, the lead has to be big enough to weather the storm (this is basically how they’ve won all their games year).
It’s not impossible. In the last game, it took 7-points off of three terrible plays (a stolen inbound bass for buzzer beater three by Rex Pflueger, and BC saving the basketball underneath their own net twice for two easy buckets by the Irish) for Notre Dame to win by one, so a win isn’t out of the question.
Derryck Thornton and Jay Heath will both have to cut down turnovers to virtually zero to keep up with ND’s ball security. I’d also want to see BC try to get Mooney into foul trouble early (a challenge, given Notre Dame’s penchant for avoiding whistles) if only because they cannot defend him on the other end.
The Eagles are outmanned (again), but they lost the last game by one despite Popovic playing the worst I’ve ever seen him and with no Jairus Hamilton. If one of the bench players can step up to play at a Jared Hamilton-esque level all game, and the team can avoid stupid mistakes, they absolutely have a chance.
63-59 Boston College, a prediction I’d have a lot more certainty in if this team had any momentum whatsoever. But outside of Gibbs and Mooney, this Irish team isn’t anything particularly good.