The Syracuse Orange men's basketball team plays host to an old Big East Conference rival, which now is a new Atlantic Coast Conference confidant, as the Boston College Eagles visit the Carrier Dome (7 pm. on ESPNU).
The Orange (13-5, 4-1 ACC) are looking to rebound from a disappointing showing at the Clemson Tigers, who handed SU its first conference loss on Sunday, 66-53. The loss snapped a seven-game winning streak by the Orange, who got another fantastic 21-points, 10-rebound performance from senior center Rakeem Christmas. It was the eighth consecutive game Christmas recorded at least 14 points and eight rebounds.
The Eagles (8-8, 0-4) lost to the No. 2-ranked team in the country, the visiting Virginia Cavaliers, their last time out, 66-51. Boston College led by five points early in the second half, however, UVA used a 10-0 run in a six-minute span to take a 43-38 lead with 8:34 to go. From there, the Eagles couldn't overcome their defensive-minded opponent to drop their fourth game in five tries. Junior Olivier Hanlan led all BC scorers with 18 points.
Christmas' performance against Clemson on Sunday helped him earn ACC Player of the Week honors for the second time this season. The senior is the only player in the league to earn the honor twice this season.
During league play, Christmas is leading the ACC in scoring (21.0 ppg), is fourth in rebounding average (9.4) and is second in blocks per game (2.2). He is making a very strong case for ACC Player of the Year.
Teammate Trevor Cooney is coming off his worst league performance, as he scored just five points in the loss to Clemson. Cooney failed to make any field goals (0-for-7), which included him missing all five of his 3-point attempts. Entering the contest against the Tigers, he was averaging 19.0 ppg in his first four games of ACC play.
Also being held in check Sunday was junior swingman Michael Gbinije, who scored 11 points on four of 12 shooting. Freshman point guard Kaleb Joseph seemingly found some confidence in a 12-point performance that featured him making five of his 12 shots and turned the ball over just once.
Meanwhile, sophomore forward Tyler Roberson is continuing to do a fantastic job on the boards during league play, as he tied for second in the ACC in rebounds per game (10.6).
For the Eagles, junior guard Olivier Hanlan has been the team's best player as he is averaging 17.0 points and 5.6 assists per game in the team's last seven games. Also during that span, he is 9-for-31 from behind the 3-point line (33%) and is making 71.8% of his free throws. On average he had been making just 22.7% and 61.4%, respectively.
Currently, Hanlan is one of just two ACC players–the second being Miami's Angel Rodriguez–that is ranked in the top 10 in scoring, assists and steals.
BC's roster features two grad-student transfers in Aaron Brown (Southern Miss) and Dimitri Batten (Old Dominion). Both players have been big contributors to the Eagles. Brown netted 16 points in a 69-60 victory over Providence, while Batten added 11 points and six boards.
Meanwhile, Patrick Heckmann scored nine of his 14 points in overtime in BC's last victory, which came against Ivy League favorite, the Harvard Crimson, 64-57, on Jan. 14. Hanlan tallied a team-high 17 points.
Junior Dennis Clifford will have the task of guarding Rakeem Christmas inside.
Coaching the Eagles will be first-year man Jim Christian, who perviously coached at Ohio. Christian won the Mid-American Conference Head Coach of the Year honor twice during his time with the Bobcats.
|Record||13-5, 4-1||8-8, 0-4|
For the second straight game the Orange will play an ACC opponent ranked near the bottom in a bunch of offensive categories, as Boston College owns the second-worst points per game average (64.9%), fourth-worst 3-point shooting percentage (29.7%) and assist-to-turnover ratio (0.93).
The Eagles aren't a great rebounding team either, as they have the second-worst rebounding average (32.8 per game) and rebounding margin (+0.4).
Syracuse, believe it or not, continues to have one of the best turnover-to-assist ratios in the league, as it is ranked second behind the Louisville Cardinals at a +2.72. However, the Orange are near the bottom when it comes to scoring offense (10th), field goal percentage (11th), 3-point percentage (10th) and 3-pointer made (10th).
Game Time: 7 p.m.
Television: ESPNU–Tom Hart (play-by-play), Len Elmore (color)
Radio: Syracuse IMG Radio Network
RPI Rankings: Syracuse–58; Boston College–133
What A Win Means For Syracuse: The Orange can avoid another huge hit to their RPI Ranking, which dropped over 10 points after falling to the Clemson Tigers on Saturday. If SU wants to stay above the NCAA Tournament cutline it can't lose games against Boston College, which is one of the worst teams in the ACC.
Meaningless Prediction: Syracuse 71, Boston College 58
Call me an optimist, but SU should have itself a nice rebound game against its former Big East rival. Now, the Orange aren't built to blow anyone out, especially if the opposing team can shutdown Cooney like Clemson did, so don't expect that. Do expect Christmas to do his usual thing on offense, maybe be more aggressive on defense, and get his 18 points and 10 rebounds. Also, this might be a nice game for Kaleb Joseph to flash some of that aggressiveness he's been talking about.
With all that said, still take your aspirin before the game to prevent a heart attack.
|At North Carolina||Mon., 1/26||7pm||ESPN|
|Virginia Tech||Tues., 2/3||9pm||ESPNU|
|At Pittsburgh||Sat., 2/7||4pm||ACCN|
|At Boston College||Wed., 2/11||7pm||ESPN2|