Teams: Syracuse Orange (9-7, 2-3) vs. Boston College Eagles (9-7, 3-2)
Date & Time: Wednesday, January 15 at 6:30 p.m. ET
Carrier Dome, Syracuse
TV/Streaming: ACC Network
Odds: ESPN’s matchup predictor says Syracuse has an 86.5 percent chance to win this one. Guess that’s what a win over Virginia gets you. But wait, didn’t BC just beat Virginia too? Hmm...
Radio: Cuse.com, TK 99/105, WAER 88.3
Rivalry: 49-26, Syracuse
Current Streak: 2, Syracuse
First Meeting: Way back in 1959, Syracuse basketball faced off against Boston College on January 30th. Boston College would end up winning the game, 78-71, but the big story for the Orange was Jon Cincebox, who grabbed 19 rebounds, scored 12 points, and almost single-handedly willed the Orange to victory with his tenacious effort on the boards.
Last Meeting: A 67-56 win for the Orange last year, and a much needed one at the time. Syracuse basketball went into the game off the back of a blowout loss to Florida State, but were able to right the ship against the Eagles. Led by 21 points from Tyus Battle, the Orange controlled the tempo throughout and were never in real jeopardy of letting it slip away, even with Ky Bowman equaling Battle with 21.
Head Coaches: Syracuse - Jim Boeheim (44th year; 1,054-386 at SU) | Virginia - Jim Christian (6th Year, 71-107 at BC)
Coach Bio: Jim Christian is in his sixth year at Boston College. So far he has had just one winning season with the Eagles, and has never won more than seven ACC games. I don’t mean to bash the guy, but I’m actually surprised he is still the coach this year. It seems like he’s been on the hot seat forever. Regardless, the Eagles are actually having a solid start to this season and, as mentioned, are also coming off a recent victory over Virginia.
Overall, Jim Christian is 313-261 as a head coach, including two seasons at Ohio, four seasons at TCU, and six seasons at Kent State. He’s made it to the NCAA Tournament twice, losing both games as head coach for Kent State. He’s also won two MAC tournament championships and five regular season first place finishes while coaching the Eagles.
Last Year: With major injury problems including multiple starters missing more than 40 percent of the ACC season, the Eagles did the best they could last year. Led by Ky Bowman, the team finished the season 14-17, and 5-13 in the ACC. Shockingly, that was their highest ACC finish under Jim Christian in six years: 11th place. Perhaps that gives a bit of perspective to some of the more vocal “Boeheim bashers.”
Last Game: Boston College got blown out by Georgia Tech. Yes, the same Georgia Tech that Syracuse trounced on the road less than a month ago. In the game, BC had just two players score 10 or more points, were out-rebounded 40-34, and shot just 16.7 percent from the three-point line.
”Fear Me, I’ve Killed Hundreds of Timelords”: Let me say this right off the bat, Boston College is not a good offensive team. They average 65 points per game, so my pick here isn’t their number one scorer. In fact, it’s their sixth leading scorer, Steffon Mitchell.
Why, you may ask? Rebounding and defense.
Steffon Mitchell leads Boston College in three categories: rebounds (8.8 per game), steals (2.4), and blocked shots (1.2). He’s 21st nationally in steals, and first in the ACC. He’s not the offensive juggernaut that is going to dominate the game, but he has all the intangibles and will be a pest on the glass while also playing lock-down defense against whoever he is guarding.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see him match up against Elijah Hughes at times. At 6-foot-8, Mitchell has the size to impact Elijah’s shots. The question is, does he have the foot speed to keep up? We’ll find out soon enough.
If Syracuse Loses: The win over the Hoos gave us all warm fuzzies, but that would evaporate quickly with a loss. If Syracuse wants any shot at even sniffing the bubble, they need to get a win over Boston College. This is still the “soft” part of the schedule in an already soft ACC, so the Orange need to capitalize.
Also, how frustrating is it to think that Syracuse is about three possessions from being 4-1 in the ACC right now? Ugh.
Fun Fact 1: There were six different seasons where Boston College and Syracuse played three times while members of the Big East.
Fun Fact 2: Tyus Battle has been the leading scorer for the Orange in five straight games against the Eagles, a stat that is guaranteed to change after this meeting.