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Men’s Basketball Preview: Boston College vs. Louisville

Eagles start the new year with a matchup against ACC power Louisville

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at Boston College Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston College Eagles let a late lead slip away from them as they lost on the road to the NC State Wolfpack. The Eagles don’t have much time to lick their wounds as they welcome the Louisville Cardinals into Conte Forum on the second day of 2021. Louisville sits in a four-way tie for second in the ACC with a 1-0 conference record and an overall record of 6-1. The Cardinals are coming off a nail-biting victory over in-state rival Kentucky.

BC has not had the same type of luck as they have struggled at times to win close games. BC surrendered a 9 point second half lead to Villanova, a 15 point lead against Minnesota, and two leads late against NC State Wednesday night. The Eagles also lost a close game to St. John’s earlier in the season. Wins are already hard to come by in the ACC but if the Eagles can’t finish games then their outlook in the conference becomes much bleaker. The Eagles did a better job rebounding against the Wolfpack a good sign given the Eagles ranked last in the ACC in rebounding. Despite forcing 17 turnover the Eagles also surrendered 17 turnovers of their own continuing a trend that has hurt them throughout the season (BC is averaging the second most turnovers in the ACC this season). I believe this team is better than their record and I have been a supporter of Jim Christian but he needs to figure out BC’s late game troubles, particularly the turnover issue.

The Cardinals got off to a fast start winning their first four games including a victory over Seton Hall before having two games cancelled/postponed due to Covid. Louisville’s only loss of the season came against 12th ranked Wisconsin. Senior guard Carlik Jones, who’s two late free throws and 20 points helped Louisville hold off Kentucky, is the Cardinals leading scorer averaging 16.7 points per game and also leads the team with 5 assists per game (the 2nd most in the ACC). Jones forms a dynamic guard tandem with sophomore David Johnson who leads the team in steals but is also second on the team in scoring, averaging 13.6 points per game, and was also a big factor in the Cardinals win over Kentucky. Jae’lyn Withers is the Cardinals most impactful big man and their leading rebounder. It’ll be very much a battle of strength against strength with the Louisville point guards versus those of BC.

Prediction:

The Eagles are a team that live and die by the 3 point shot. They lead the ACC in 3 point attempts per game and attempts total (they also rank 6th in field goal attempts) while only being 10th in terms of 3 point percentage. As mentioned above they are last in rebounding while Louisville is sixth in the ACC in terms of rebounding per game. What am I trying to say? The Eagles cannot afford to miss shots if they want to have a chance to win this game, because they don’t rebound well and unless they’ve solved their turnover issues in the last three days they’re going to leave the door open for the Cardinals. Louisville is not a high scoring offense (tied for 13th in the conference) so if BC can take care of the ball they have a chance to build a lead like they have at times this season.

If BC is shooting north of 40% from beyond the arc and only have 10 turnovers or less, the game is theirs because I don’t think Louisville’s offense can keep up with them scoring wise if the Eagles are hot from three. But that’s a very big IF. If the Eagles are cold then the Cardinals rebound advantage comes into effect and the game will be tight. I don’t fancy the Eagles chances in a tight game given their history this season.

Final: Boston College 71 Louisville 75