The Eagles welcome both Harvard and Virginia to the Heights for a pair of home games this week. Let's take a closer look at the matchups.
Game 15 vs. Harvard Crimson
Wednesday, January 14, 2015, 7:00 PM Eastern
Radio: WEEI 850 AM, BCEagles.com
Series History: 32-15, Boston College
First Meeting: Harvard 42, Boston College 6 (January 15, 1906)
Last Meeting: Harvard 73, Boston College 58 (January 1, 2014)
Last Meeting at Conte Forum: Harvard 79, Boston College 63 (December 4, 2012)
Game 16 vs. Virginia Cavaliers
Saturday, January 17, 2015, 2:00 PM Eastern
Radio: WEEI 850 AM, BCEagles.com
Series History: 10-7, Virginia
First Meeting: Virginia 79, Boston College 69 (December 11, 1970)
Last Meeting: Virginia 77, Boston College 67 (February 5, 2014)
Last Meeting at Conte Forum: Boston College 53, Virginia 52 (March 3, 2013)
No changes for BC. Caudill, Diallo, Hicks and Jackson are all done for the year. Harvard and Virginia are both at full strength basically.
G Olivier Hanlan, junior
G Aaron Brown, graduate
G Dimitri Batten, graduate
G Patrick Heckmann, senior
C Dennis Clifford, junior
1. Get the bigs involved on offense. The Eagles have had little success getting their big men involved on offense over the last few BC-Harvard games, save for some big performances from an out-of-position Ryan Anderson. With BC's bigs a non-factor, the battle of the backcourts has gone the Crimson's way the last few outings. The two power conference opponents Harvard has faced this year both exploited mismatches down low. Both resulted in Harvard losses. The offense needs to get guys like Clifford and Magarity going down low and both those guys have to finish strong around the basket.
2. Hit The Perimeter Shots. While they haven't lost yet this season, when they do, it's often because the opponent gets hot from the perimeter at some point during the game. That's because Virginia HC's Tony Bennett's pack-line defense allows the other team to shoot from the perimeter. The perimeter / protecting the paint risk/reward favors BC with the Eagles' weak inside game.
3. Create Opportunities at the FT Line. The Eagles have really struggled to get to the charity stripe the last three games. Not coincidentally, those three games were all losses. BC only attempted 10, 9, and 10 free throws over the last three games, and didn't even attempt a single free throw until the second half of the OT loss to Pitt. BC only got to the line 10 times vs. Miami, and missed five attempts. They would go on to lose by 4 and even had a chance to tie late.
Steve Addazio* Previews Harvard and Virginia
As we head into these two game, we are anxious to get back in the win column after dropping three straight. We're playing two really good opponents. Harvard is the class of the Ivy League -- right in BC's backyard, a program BC is very familiar with. And then there's Virginia, unbeaten and ranked 2nd in the nation. Both boast two of the top defenses in the country. Virginia ranks third in the nation in AdjD. Harvard is right there too at #9.
Tremendous amount of respect for Tommy Amaker and the Crimson men's basketball program. Obviously Harvard has won six straight over BC and Jim Christian's boys will be looking to reverse that trend. Siyani Chambers, Harvard's point guard, is one of the best point guards in the nation. He's a heck of a player, has great vision and distributes the ball really well. Wesley Saunders is averaging 16.2 points per game to lead the Crimson. Extremely talented. Very active guy. We certainly have our hands full with Harvard visiting the Heights tonight.
Then there's Virginia. 15-0 and ranked #2 in the nation. They've beaten ranked Maryland and Notre Dame teams, both on the road. That speaks for itself. Just an outstanding defensive team. They run Tony Bennett's pack-line defense, and I think they are outstanding. Physical, quick, dominate down low and make life difficult for shooters on the perimeter. They are rolling in here with a lot of confidence and it will be a great challenge for us. Obviously we have to play at a high level here at home and we have to continue to improve. We'll be looking to speed things up a bit where we can. We don't want to slow things down as it plays right into Virginia's strength on defense. Jim Christian's kids are looking for to it. Despite the recent three-game losing streak, they have a great attitude, and are anxious to get going.
Scoreboard Watching / Out of Town Notes
Syracuse keeps winning close games and it's starting to piss me off. A road game against a sneaky good Clemson team awaits the Orange this Saturday (4:00 p.m., ESPN3). Regardless, BC is fast approaching the first of two regular season #OrangeEagle showdowns (Jan. 20 in Syracuse) and the game appears more winnable than it did at the beginning of the year, even with the first of two on the road. The weekend is highlighted by a top 10 matchup between Duke and Louisville, though that game has lost the slightest bit of luster as the Blue Devils have now lost two straight after racing out to a 14-0 start to the year.
Gametime Song of the Week
Beck - Cellphone's Dead. While not as good as his earlier work, Beck's put out some pretty decent songs in recent years. This is a song off his The Information album. No other significance to this week's games. Just a fun and catchy tune ... and one truly bizarre music video. I'll be the dude in the yellow hoodie and sunglasses should BC beat Harvard. Plus the opening riff reminds me of a cross between Herbie Hancock's Chameleon and the soundtrack to the video game Toejam & Earl.
Interestingly, Harvard and Virginia played one another earlier this season back on December 21, a record-setting 76-27 victory by Virginia. The then-11-0 Cavaliers held the Crimson to an NCAA-record tying one field goal in the first half, building a 39-8 halftime lead. Only Savannah State, with one field goal in the first half in a 2008 game against Kansas State had done that before (since the shot clock was implemented in the 1985-86 season, anyway).
Dot Dot Dot
Even though it's a non-conference game, the Harvard game still feels pretty important. Vegas expects a close game (BC +3.5) so it would seem as good a time as any to end the losing streak to the Crimson. The whole losing-to-the-Ivy-League thing started before Donahue got here, but I'll always associate the recent futility against Harvard, in particular, to him. It would be huge if we could finally flip the script in these BC vs. Ivy League games. As a bonus, we seem to have infected both PC and UConn with the lose-to-Ivy-League bug this year.
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Leave your thoughts / predictions on Boston College-Harvard and Boston College-Virginia below. Go Eagles!
* Steve Addazio actually didn't say these things