With the regular season in the rear view mirror, the Boston College Eagles Men’s basketball team will now try their shot at a run in this year’s ACC tournament with their first contest coming against the Pittsburgh Panthers.
Needless to say, the viewership of this game should be rather low as both teams are certainly bottom feeders in the ACC table. Both teams finished with 6-14 records in the conference but BC edged out the higher seeding one as their overall record sits at 11-19 to the Panthers’ 11-20.
The Eagles do have some familiarity with Pittsburgh as they have faced against them twice this season and split the series. In the first contest, John Hugely proved to be a menace for the Panthers as he dropped 32 points and was the primary catalyst behind Pitt’s success. Even still, the Eagles brought the game down to the wire but The Panthers were able to hold on for a 69-67 victory.
In the second showing in Conte, it was all Eagles as they took a double digit lead into the locker room and never looked back. The Langford brothers showed out this time around combining to score 38 of BC’s 69 points in a 69-56 rout of the Panthers.
Going into this first round of the tournament, the same game-plan needs to be applied that allowed the Eagles to have success in their second showing against Pitt. That plan: halt John Hugely from scoring. In their win at home, BC was able to hold Hugely to just 9 points in the game effectively stalling the Panther’s from getting any offensive momentum.
Hugely is by far Pitt’s best player averaging 14.9 PPG and shooting 46.7% from the field. He also leads the team in rebounds with 7.9. If the Eagles are able to stifle Hugely as they did in their last performance, this will force the Panthers to rely on someone else to step-up on the team and, quite candidly, there are not many solid options outside of Hugely. If the Eagles are able to do this effectively on the defensive end, they should be able to find enough success offensively to get them to get past the Panther’s with some ease.
Both teams are on losing streaks going into the tournament with the Eagles dropping their last three and the Panther’s their last four. However, the key difference in those losses is that Panthers have lost their last three by more than 20 points. Granted they were against solid competition in Notre Dame, Duke and Miami, but nonetheless losses of those margins certainly can reduce the morale of a team.
Obviously, it is March after all, and no win is guaranteed. However, in the games that I have seen BC play this season against Pitt this year I strongly believe that the Eagles have the upper-hand in this one. As long as we can put the clamps on Hugely and muffle him for most of the game, this game should belong to the Eagles.
Prediction: Boston College 74 vs. Pittsburgh 66
Tip-off for the game is scheduled for 2 EST on ACCN