Syracuse vs. Boston College: Getting To Re-Know The Eagles

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Brian from BC Interruption stops by to fill us in on the Eagles before they take on the Orange tonight.

The Boston College Eagles are back in our lives again now that we're playing them at Conte Forum tonight in ACC action. When last we left these intrepid foes, we were beating their football team (and just about all the rest of their teams to boot). But what of their basketball squad? What can we expect from them? I've enlisted the help of Brian from BC Interruption to find out more about BC before we tip (and I answered his questions as well).

TNIAAM: I'm going to posit a hypothesis to you. Boston College is better than North Carolina. Prove me right. GO.

BCI: Boston College is 1-2 in ACC play while North Carolina is 0-3.

or

Boston College defeated Virginia Tech 62-59, which beat Miami 61-60 (OT), which beat North Carolina 63-57. Therefore, Boston College is better than North Carolina by a combined score of 186-176. / transitive property'd

TNIAAM: What went right in the Virginia Tech victory that hasn't gone right in the other games?

BCI: I'm not sure if things went right in the Virginia Tech victory that didn't go right in other games. As Syracuse knows Virginia Tech isn't all that good this year and BC nearly gave that game away in the game's final minute. Still there were a few noticeable differences in the Virginia Tech win over some of the other stinkers from earlier this year.

The biggest difference is the return of 7-foot center Dennis Clifford. Clifford wasn't all that active on the offensive end of the floor, but has proven to be a difference-maker on the defensive end. Clifford is one of the few bigs on the roster and he was effective in disrupting the Hokies offense in the paint. Clifford altered a bunch of shots and was even contesting threes on the perimeter and has been a spark on the defensive end of the floor. Having Clifford on the floor also allows Ryan Anderson to slide over to his more natural position at the 4.

Lonnie Jackson was the other pleasant surprise. Outside of BC's two stars Olivier Hanlan and Ryan Anderson, few players have really stepped up to take control of a game this season. Jackson, who's only averaging 5.4 points a game this season, exploded for 17 points, including 5-of-8 from beyond the arc. BC isn't going to win many (any?) games unless someone other than Hanlan and Anderson heats up.

TNIAAM: BC is 319th in the nation in rebounding. Why?

BCI: BC likes to shoot the three ball. Lots of three balls. Most of the time Donahue will play four guards at a time and the offense resembles what BCI affectionately refers to as a windshield wiper offense (think: passing the ball around the perimeter looking for the open look from three). The team just doesn't have the height or muscle to dominate teams on the glass as the offense is predicated first on trading two points for three.

The other reason is a general lack of height, especially with Clifford out. Centers Will Magarity and KC Caudill are the only other players on the roster taller than 6-foot-8, and both average roughly 10 minutes or less a game.

TNIAAM: Who is BC's "random (possibly white) guy who seemingly comes out of nowhere to hit nine three-pointers against Syracuse"?

BCI: If he continues his hot streak from the Virginia Tech game, my first guess is Lonnie Jackson. Jackson is a three-point specialist and arguably the team's best three-point shooter. Many times, as in the Virginia Tech game, he'll shoot better from three (5-of-8) than he will from the floor (6-of-11).

Not random, but Olivier Hanlan, last year's ACC Rookie of the Year, also has the ability to straight up take over a game. See also: his 41-point performance in the first round of the ACC Tournament vs. Georgia Tech (8-of-10 from three, 14-of-18 from the floor).

TNIAAM: The Steve Donahue Era started out fairly well but things had tapered off a little bit. What's the prognosis? Is he still the coach in 2015?

BCI: Right now, my guess is that Steve Donahue will ... NOT be the coach of the Eagles next year. At the beginning of the season, most expected marginal W-L improvement and a trip to a postseason tournament (more NIT than NCAA). Those expectations were based on a strong finish to last season, where BC won four of its final five games and put a scare into eventual champ Miami in the ACC Quarterfinals.

Donahue opted for a very difficult non-conference schedule this year in the hope that this would help boost the Eagles' postseason tournament resume. That plan has backfired in spectacular fashion. BC is probably a slightly better team than its 5-11 record would indicate and should the Eagles have played a non-conference schedule more similar to the one Clemson, Wake Forest and Georgia Tech played this year, they'd probably be much closer to .500 or better than they are now.

I'm not sure how you spin this year's regression to the point where Donahue keeps his job. Despite the more difficult schedule, BC is going backwards and Donahue is no closer to solving a significant scholarship imbalance than he was when he arrived on the Heights.

TNIAAM: How's this gonna go down? And how is BC's season gonna play out?

BCI: Caveat here is ACC basketball is totally nuts this year, so this prediction is bound to be completely wrong. I want to believe that BC will keep this close for at least a half. Perhaps one of BC's random (possibly white) guy's heats up from range early and the Eagles go into the locker room down a couple points. In the second half, Syracuse's front court starts to assert itself more in the paint and the Orange pull away early in the half to win by 15.

As for the rest of the year, any sort of postseason tournament hopes are basically dashed at this point. That said, I'm hopeful that BC can still make some noise in conference play. Other than Syracuse, no other program has really separated itself from the rest of the pack in the early going and the league seems to be as wide open as it's even been since BC joined the conference. Call it, 5-13 in conference play, first round exit in the ACC Tournament and new coach in 2014-15.

Check out BC Interruption for more about the BC Eagles.

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