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Boston College hit its ceiling in first matchup against Syracuse basketball

Expect a more down-to-earth Eagles team on Saturday.

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at Boston College
Syracuse Orange guard John Gillon (4) lays the ball in the basket during the first half against Boston College on January 1.
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into this season, losing to the Boston College Eagles would’ve been the punchline of a sick joke.

Some people were projecting a Final Four run before the Syracuse Orange even hit the court for its first practice of the season. Some said it’s Elite Eight or bust and others laughed at the thought that the Orange wouldn’t be an NCAA Tournament team.

Well, on January 1, Syracuse fans realized what it felt like to be at the bottom of the league. Boston College, coming off of an 0-18 season in the ACC, beat the Orange by 15 points and nothing seemed right.

If Syracuse didn’t lose by 33 points earlier in the season to St. John’s in the Carrier Dome, I’d say it’s the worst loss I’ve seen since covering SU — but sadly, it wasn’t.

At the same time, I’d never seen Boston College play that well. Let’s be honest, BC hit its ceiling that day. The Eagles are 9-8 (2-2) and followed up their victory over SU with a 13-point loss to Wake Forest (they’ve since knocked off NC State as well, though).

Boston College shot over 60 percent from 3-point range against the Orange on New Year’s Day, and Ky Bowman went for 30 points, just three away from his career-high.

It was easily the Eagles best offensive performance of the season. Boston College played its best game of the season, and Syracuse was on the wrong end of it.

Keep in mind, this was at a time that Syracuse was badly struggling defensively.

SU had trouble defending St. John’s, Georgetown and Wisconsin — and beat up on every non-Power Five school. The Orange didn’t necessarily struggle defensively against UConn, but the offense was nonexistent.

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at Boston College
Syracuse Orange forward Tyler Roberson (21) shoots the ball over Boston College Eagles forward Mo Jeffers (15) during the first half at Silvio O. Conte Forum.
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Boston College, on the other hand, has losses to Nicholls State, Richmond, Harvard, Hartford and Fairfield — and then handled Syracuse by 15. It doesn’t exactly add up, other than the Orange struggling immensely at the time.

Other than the Eagles’ 96 points on Jan. 1, the next highest the team scored was 88 against Dartmouth. In that game, BC shot 55.7 percent from the floor and just over 52 percent from 3-point range.

Syracuse is slowly, but surely, figuring out its 2-3 zone this season. The two victories over Miami and Pittsburgh are proof, however the loss to Va. Tech was a step backwards.

Saturday will be different. And Boston College won’t come anywhere near 96 points because it was both BC’s ceiling and SU’s floor. Syracuse felt the embarrassment from its first matchup of the season -- and the Orange wants nothing to do with that again.