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Men’s Basketball Preview: Boston College @ Duke

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Are the Blue Devils vulnerable after such a long break? Probably not

NCAA Basketball: Louisville at Boston College David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston College Eagles will stay down in North Carolina for this Wednesday ACC match-up against the #21 Duke Blue Devils. The last time Duke played a basketball game? December 16th! It’s been a while since ranked Duke played a game, so expect them to be well-rested today. Boston College, in the meantime, has played 3 games since Duke last saw the court. BC has lost 6 of the last 7, including all 3 ACC contests so far. These teams are on completely opposite trajectories. Though it should be noted that Duke’s Coach K will not be at the game, as he is under quarantine for possible exposure to COVID-19.

The story of Boston College’s team so far this season has been offensive inconsistency and ineffective defense in the paint. That’s a recipe for disaster against a well-coached team that’s expected to be competing for the ACC title.

BC can only seem to get offensive production going in spurts, mostly through streaky three-point shots from some of their top scorers or the occasional drives to the basket by Steffon Mitchell and James Karnik. Size will not be an advantage for BC in this one, so once again the team will likely be looking towards the likes of Wynston Tabbs and Jay Heath, among others, to be shooting well to keep them in the game. On the season, the Eagles are only shooting 43% from the field and 32% from three, so a well-above average shooting performance will be required to pull off an upset.

On the defensive side, the Eagles have found some moderate success when playing zone, but largely stick to man defense anyway and get dominated in the paint as a result. Driving scorers, both wings and big men alike, have been able to put up good numbers against a porous BC defense on the inside. Unless Coach Christian implements a zone defense starting pretty early on in the game, don’t expect much change to these ongoing defensive struggles.

It’s tough to know exactly how well this Duke team will play without their head coach and coming out of an almost month-long break. The Blue Devils have struggled to open the season, losing to both ranked Michigan State and ranked Illinois, and tumbling down in the rankings themselves as a result. Nonetheless, they are an incredibly talented and young squad that could see a lot of improvement with the practice time they have been given this winter. #21 is probably an accurate ranking for this team, meaning BC will absolutely be fighting as the underdog in this one.

Prediction

Like I said, it’s tough to make a prediction on a team coming out of such a long break. But this BC team has been unfortunately all too predictable. My guess is that Duke will come out firing on most cylinders as they try to make an opening statement to the season’s 2nd half, while BC struggles to keep up after playing in some recent grueling losses. The Eagles tend to play up to their competition (Syracuse game being the exception), so I won’t be predicting an embarrassing blowout. But it won’t be very close.

Final Score: Duke 81 Boston College 65