Boston College has had an up-and-down start to its season, winning two close contests against Cornell and Detroit Mercy before dropping a disappointing game to Maine. With injuries to Quinten Post, Donald Hand Jr., Prince Aligbe, and possibly DeMarr Langford Jr. (he apparently was only cramping towards the end of the Maine game), getting healthy is the Eagle’s top priority.
This weekend, they head off to the sunny U.S. Virgin Islands to play in the Paradise Jam Tournament. They will play three games, and here we preview the other seven teams:
George Mason Patriots:
Overview: The 2-1 Patriots play in the A 10 Conference, and have victories against Longwood (who made the NCAA tournament last year) and American University, though they were badly beaten by #13 Auburn. They average 69.3 points, 38.0 boards and 4.0 steals per game. BC takes them first at 8:00 PM on Friday.
Team Strength/Weakness: George Mason can score. They’ve got three players averaging double digits, and in their two wins they averaged 78 points. They are shooting 47.2% from the floor and 40.6% from beyond the arc.
As for weaknesses, as a team they are averaging almost 14 turnovers per game. That is something BC will look to take advantage of come Friday.
Player to Watch: Victor Bailey Jr. is averaging 15.0 points, 4.3 boards and 1.7 assists this season. The 6’4 guard is shooting 50% from downtown.
Overview: The 1-2 Bulls are looking to right the ship after some bad losses to JMU and UConn. They take on Drake in the first round of the tournament, and they average 71.3 points, 26.7 boards, and 11.7 assists per game.
Team Strength/Weakness: Despite the aforementioned blowout losses, Buffalo is still generating almost 12 turnovers per game. They’ll look to break out in transition off of those turnovers.
In terms of weaknesses, the Bulls are struggling with efficiency. They are only shooting 43% from the floor and a ghastly 25% from three point land.
Player to Watch: Guard Zid Powell is tied for the team lead with 11.3 PPG, and he’s also collecting 4.7 boards, 3.0 assists and – most importantly – 3.0 steals per game.
Overview: The Bulldogs will come into the tournament feeling good, as they are 2-0 on the season while scoring 80 in both of their contests. They also collect 37.5 boards and 6 blocks per game.
Team Strength/Weakness: Drake has a very deep roster. They have three double-digit scorers, two of whom average over 17 a game. They have nine guys who average at least 14 minutes. Such a deep roster keeps legs fresh deep into games.
However, despite all of its scoring ability Drake is only averaging 30.3% from beyond the arc. They are struggling to shoot the ball well.
Player to Watch: 6’7 guard/forward Tucker DeVries is averaging 18.0 points and 8.5 boards per contest. He presents matchup difficulties for opposing teams given his scoring touch and size.
Overview: Howard sits at 2-3 on the season. The MEAC team blew out Gallaudet University 108-56, but also has some tough losses to JMU and #4 Kentucky. They are averaging 80.4 points, 31.0 boards, and 17.6 assists per game.
Strength/Weakness: This team is an excellent offensive group. They’ve got five scorers in double digits, and are still averaging an excellent 80 points per game despite some ugly losses.
However, this team is not the deepest. Only six guys see more than 15 minutes of time on the court per game; this could hamstring them over the course of the tournament.
Player to Watch: Bryce Harris is a 6’4 sophomore guard who’s averaging 11.0 points per contest while also leading the team with 5.6 rebounds per game.
Overview: The Cowboys started the season 2-0 before falling to SE Louisiana, so they will be looking to put their season back on track. They average 84.3 points, 42.3 rebounds, and 17 assists per game.
Strength/Weakness: The Cowboys are, like Butler, another high-octane offense. Led by Brenden Wenzel and Hunter Thompson, 84.3 PPG is nothing to laugh about. They feature five double-digit scorers per game.
On the other hand, they are very much a run-and-gun squad. Despite putting up all those points, they are only shooting 41.7% as a team, which is not a pretty mark.
Player to Watch: 6’7 guard/forward Hunter Maldonado does it all, averaging 13.3 points, 6.3 boards and 5.7 assists per game. He’s the engine of the Cowboys.
Overview: Tarleton State comes into the tournament 1-1 after a 95-49 beatdown KS Chrisitan. The team competes in the WAC and averages 77 points, 40 rebounds and 15.5 steals per game.
Strength/Weakness: Man, this team can force turnovers. No doubt these stats are inflated by the season being so young, but without a doubt Tarleton State is looking to push tempo and break out in transition.
Unfortunately for the Texans, they do not protect the ball that well, averaging 16.5 turnovers per game. That’s a lot of empty possessions and likely easy buckets for their opponent.
Player to Watch: Forward Gary Clark has only played in one game so far, but in only 15 minutes he dropped 14 points. He can find a groove on offense.
Overview: The Bruins sit at 1-2 on the season so far. They are averaging 73.0 points, 29.0 rebounds and 7.3 steals through three games. They compete in the MVC Conference.
Strength/Weakness: The scoring of Ben Sheppard (18.3 PPG) and Cade Tyson (17.0 PPG) are what make this team go. They are a nasty one-two punch for a team to guard.
As a BC fan, I watch a lot of painfully bad free throw shooting. The Bruins are shooting just over 50% from the charity stripe. That’s bad. Really bad.
Player to Watch: In addition to his 18.3 PPG, Sheppard also averages 6.7 boards, 5.0 assists and 1.7 steals. If Belmont makes some noise in the Virgin Islands, expect Sheppard to be behind it.
Boston College tips off against George Mason at 8 PM on Friday. Roll Eags.