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Boston College Basketball vs. USC: Final Thoughts & Predictions

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The Eagles welcome the USC Trojans to Conte Forum for the first time on Sunday, 4 p.m. (ESPNU).

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Eagles host USC at Conte Forum for the first time in program history on Sunday at 4 p.m. Let's break down the matchup.

Game Facts

Game 10 vs. USC Trojans

Sunday, December 21, 2014, 4:00 PM
TV: ESPNU
Radio: WEEI 850 AM, BCEagles.com

Preseason Opponent Preview: USC Trojans

Series History: 3-0, USC

First Meeting: USC 74, Boston College 71 (March 17, 2001)
Last Meeting: USC 78, Boston College 62 (December 8, 2013)

Roster Notes

Both Lonnie Jackson and Eddie Odio saw the floor in the win over Binghamton, though not for long. It will be good to get both extended minutes moving forward. Still no word on Diallo or Caudill. Cautiously optimistic Diallo is an any-week-or-so now situation. Just a hunch but we may have seen the last of Caudill. If it doesn't happen soon, doubt he ever gets back on the floor.

Projected Starters

G Olivier Hanlan, junior
G Aaron Brown, graduate
G Dimitri Batten, graduate
G Patrick Heckmann, senior
C Dennis Clifford, junior

Three-Point Preview

1. Hanlan breaks out of offensive funk. I think it's safe to say that Hanlan is in a bit of a funk on offense. Seems like we now have enough of a sample size (5 games) where we can say that. He didn't look great in either of the last two games, nor the games against Dayton and Marist. He does a lot of other things besides scoring though, and so long as guys like Brown, Batten and Jackson? Heckmann? contribute on offense, I'm not sure it matters when Hanlan is THE guy on offense. But it would be nice to see him take over a game again like he did down the stretch vs. West Virginia or against Providence.

2. Extend the perimeter defense. Both McLaughlin and Reinhardt are talented young guards but both are prone to streaky shooting. The Trojans have turned in some poor shooting performances in their four losses to Portland State, Akron, Penn State and Army. Hoping to see BC extend the perimeter and force the tough shot from three for both of these guys. I don't think USC has enough offensive firepower in the front court to keep up with BC, but a big performance from one or both of these guys could definitely be enough to sink the Eagles.

3. Cut down on the turnovers. Cliche, sure, but BC played a pretty sloppy game against Binghamton, committing a total of 17 turnovers on the afternoon. BC has committed more TOs in just two other games this season in losses to UMass and West Virginia. The team is getting better at breaking the press, but I'm sure they'll continue to see a healthy dose of full-court pressure throughout the season. BC can overcome committing 17 turnovers against a team like Binghamton. It can't against USC...or nearly every program left on the schedule, for that matter.

Steve Addazio* Previews USC

Well, we feel very fortunate to have been able to string together a few wins here at home against Maine and Binghamton. BC was able to follow the plan. Jim Christian's team followed the plan on offense and defense, which I thought was a good validation for the kids to be able to hang in there, fight, scratch and claw and pull away in both of those contests in the second half. It wasn't a perfect performance by any means—so it definitely gave the team something to work on this week—but an important step in the building of the program nonetheless.

BC now faces a USC team that they faced last year in Los Angeles. A team that to me is improving each and every week, despite last week's setback to Army. They've had some disappointing results early on, but have strung together a few wins now for the first time in several seasons.

Good players on both ends of the floor. It starts with Jordan McLaughlin running point. A dynamic player, highly sought after out of high school. Has done a tremendous job stepping in right away and running the Trojans offense. Six-foot-six wing Katin Reinhardt has been having a very good season for USC as well. 10.5 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game. We can talk about a guy like sophomore forward Nikola Jovanovic. Six-foot-11 out of Belgrade, Serbia. Has reached double figures in five straight games and six of the first 10 games of the season. Double-doubles in three of USC's last five games. Big physical presence that can get it done on both ends of the floor.

This is a very different team from the one BC faced a year ago. The Trojans lost a ton of production from last year's team, but that's still a very good program making the long return trip to the Heights. So it's going to take a lot of focus, a lot of great mental strain, a lot of great game prep by our team and maturity and leadership. It's going to be a formidable challenge but one that BC's going to be up for. Compete like crazy to get that fifth straight victory, which we're looking forward to that competition.

Scoreboard Watching / Out of Town Notes

Two big games on Saturday, headlined by #12 Ohio State vs. #24 North Carolina in Chicago (1:00 p.m., CBS) and Syracuse at #7 Villanova (1:00 p.m., FOX). Late Saturday night is another intriguing matchup between N.C. State and #22 West Virginia (9:30 p.m., ESPN2). The Wolfpack have racked up a bunch of wins early on, but haven't looked all that impressive doing so. How will the Pack fare against a ranked West Virginia team that BC had on the ropes down in San Juan?

On Sunday, #6 Virginia hosts Harvard at JPJ Arena at 1:00 p.m. (ESPNU). The Eagles host the Crimson in a few weeks on January 14.

Gametime Song of the Week

The Black Keys - Tighten Up

Random Factoid

Despite facing one another three times previously, USC will be making its first ever trip to Chestnut Hill to take on the Eagles. BC and USC faced each other in the 2001 and 2009 NCAA Tournaments and last year out in Los Angeles.

Dot Dot Dot

At what point do we start to worry about Olivier Hanlan's drop in offensive production? Hopefully the week off was good for him and he turns it around soon, because the schedule gets a whole lot tougher when the new year rolls around. But since he exploded onto the scene at the end of his freshman year, scoring 41 in the ACC Tournament win over Georgia Tech, I can't recall a worse stretch of games than the last few (though he did turn it on in the win over PC).

BCI Predictions

Errbody picked victories over Maine and Binghamton yay us. And I see you Kwani—the only one who's still perfect picking BC games this season.

BC-USC Score Pts. Record Picking BC
Brian Favat 74-62 9 5-2
Jeff Martyn 71-60 9 6-1
John Fidler 38-31 9 6-1
hoyaeagle 66-61 9 6-1
A.J Black 37-31 8 5-2
Dan Doolan 74-68 8 5-1
CSOM_97 69-63 8 5-2
Kwani Lunis 36-31 8 7-0
Joe Gravellese 37-31 6 5-2
Dan Rubin 37-31 5 5-1
Grant Salzano 37-31 5 3-4

Lot of low-scoring predictions this week oh—

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Leave your thoughts / predictions on Boston College-USC below. Go Eagles!

* Steve Addazio actually didn't say these things