Last Saturday, the Boston College Eagles picked up what might be their most signature win in the last four years, beating #1 Duke 89-84.
Currently, the Eagles are 8-3 after winning only nine games a year ago. They had two conference wins in the 2016 season, against Syracuse and North Carolina State.
While the Eagles seem to be much improved in 2017, can they make a run in the super talented ACC?
The Eagles three losses this year have come against Texas Tech, a trendy surprise team as well, Providence and Nebraska. All three teams are in the top 60 for RPI. Their next best win? La Salle, who sits at 61 in the RPI, and have played Northwestern, Miami and Villanova moderately close, with all losses coming by 11 points or fewer.
Other than Duke and La Salle, the Eagles have played the likes of Maine, Sacred Heart, Colgate and Columbia, just to name a few.
This is a team that shouldn’t struggle to put points on the board, with a high-powered backcourt in Jerome Robinson and Ky Bowman (featured).
Robinson is shooting 48% from three after only hitting 33% of his threes a year ago. It’s unlikely that he’ll shoot close to 50% from deep all year long, but if he can maintain a 40% stroke, NBA teams will take closer looks at the 6’6” guard.
Bowman on the other hand has seen his shooting numbers nosedive. After slashing .492/.449/.712, his field goal percentage and three-point percentage have fallen to .428 and .324, respectively. He’s still scoring 16.3 points per game, as well as chipping in 6.9 rebounds per game, despite standing just 6’1”. In the victory against Duke, Bowman had 30 points, ten rebounds and nine assists. He was able to blow by Marvin Bagley time and time again, as well as knocking down a couple of tough mid range jumpers.
Not to be forgotten, however, is junior Jordan Chatman, who’s chipped in 12 points a game and had 22. He’s a solid third option for the Eagles if Robinson or Bowman has an off game.
While the backcourt has been excellent, the frontcourt will be tested. Grad transfer Deontae Hawkins was averaging 12 and nine, but he’s lost for the season after suffering a right knee injury in the loss against Nebraska.
Hawkins’s injury means more playing time for sophomores Nik Popovic, an import from Bosnia & Herzegovina, Johncarlos Reyes, and freshman Steffon Mitchell.
The starting five will be under much pressure throughout the year, with such an extreme lack of depth.
The ACC season doesn’t truly start until the end of the month, with a showdown against #16 Virginia. That game should be a more realistic barometer for where this team stands. As the schedule is now, BC has eight more games against teams in the top 15, including two against #19 Florida State, #18 Notre Dame and #6 Miami. This team does have to travel to Chapel Hill to face #7 North Carolina.
It’s unrealistic to think the Eagles can go 7-2 against top-25 competition, but if they can grab four wins against the ACC’s elite, and avoid any terrible in-conference losses to Pittsburgh, North Carolina State or Clemson, they could sneak into the NCAA Tournament.
They match up well against Miami, as both teams are guard oriented, even though Miami has more raw talent. Getting a split against the Hurricanes would be ideal. Virginia usually struggles to score the basketball, but nothing about BC suggests they’ll be able to limit Kyle Guy or Devon Hall.
Remember, Wake Forest got into in First Four round of the NCAA Tournament with a 9-9 record in ACC. If Boston College can hit that .500 mark, the committee will have a hard time leaving them out due to the strength of the ACC. Keep a close eye on the Eagles in the coming month to see if this team has what it takes to shock the ACC and college basketball.
Featured image via BC Interupption