Whether we want to be or not, the Syracuse Orange and Boston College Eagles men’s basketball teams are rivals. And by decree of the ACC, we’re playing twice per season until the end of time. Lucky for us, SU’s won 10 of the last 12 games in this “rivalry,” though. So not the worst squad to face with some frequency.
SU comes in at 3-1 after a loss to Rutgers on Tuesday. Meanwhile, BC is 1-4 after suffering three straight losses to St. John’s, Florida and Minnesota, respectively. Now that you know that, what else are we watching out for when these teams take the court on Saturday at 1 p.m. ET (and on ESPNU)?
Christian: The frontcourt battle
Because Boston College has faced tougher opposition to begin the season, a blueprint is starting to form on how to beat the Eagles. The paint is going to be the key area, and perhaps this might be another game where Bourama Sidibe’s influence is sorely missed. BC is only grabbing 33.4 boards per game and is getting out-rebounded by about three boards per game. In addition, opponents are shooting just under 50% from the floor. That comes with the caveat that BC’s opponents have only shot just under 30% from three.
What this means is that Syracuse’s guards might have another game where scoring from range will be limited. That means a lot of emphasis is going to be placed on the forwards of ‘Cuse dominating the paint on offense and crashing the boards on both sides of the ball. The Orange can’t afford another weak rebounding performance like they had against Rutgers.
Kevin: How does Syracuse defend BC’s backcourt?
The Eagles top three scorers are Wynston Tabbs, Jay Heath and Rich Kelly. All three are shoot first players (combined they average less than 5 assists per game) but they are going to challenge the top of the Orange zone. With Buddy Boeheim just coming back after his quarantine it might take him time to readjust to game speed so the wings might have to be ready to challenge the shooters. Syracuse has to do a better job at stopping penetration at the top of the zone as BC is averaging 27 attempts from behind the 3-pt line so far this season.
James: The return of Buddy
Buddy Boeheim returned to practice on Thursday for the first time in almost two weeks. Can he shake off the rust immediately? Boeheim has scored in double-figures against Boston College in every game of his career. He’s scored 13, 16, 22 and 21 points against the Eagles in four games.
John: Alright, some pressure has to be on Joe Girard to produce at this point
It’s been a pretty rough start to the season for Girard, who’s hitting just 26% of his shots over four games. And with the shooting prowess of BC’s guards, he could very well be a defensive liability once again. What keeps him on the floor — and maybe gives SU a win — is whether or not he can end the cold streak. If he can’t, you’ll see an increasing amount of Kadary Richmond out there (which wouldn’t be a bad thing at all).