StLou's Previews: Boston College Eages

Boston College Eagles

BC entered this season looking to take that proverbial next step from rebuilding to 'postseason eligible.' The non-conference performance was a little underwhelming, but a win over Duke suddenly has them buzzing. Can they score yet another upset, this time on the road?

Game Details:

Date/Time: Saturday, December 30th, 2:00 PM EST
Location: John Paul Jones Arena, Charlottesville, VA

What 'They' Say

Vegas: Virginia -15.5, O/U 128.5
TAPE: Ranks BC #96, predicts a 69-51 UVA win, 96% confidence
KenPom: Ranks BC #86, predicts a 68-53 UVA win, 92% confidence


Depth Chart:


PG #0 Ky Bowman, 6-1 188, SO
36.2 mpg, 16.6 ppg, 5.4 apg, 32% 3P%
SG #1 Jerome Robinson, 6-6 191, JR 
33.5 mpg, 16.5 ppg, 3.2 apg, 46% 3P% 
SF #25 Jordan Chatman, 6-5 200, JR 
34.3 mpg, 14.3 ppg, 0.9 apg, 43% 3P% 
PF #41 Steffon Mitchell, 6-8 222, FR 
29.7 mpg, 6.2 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 41% FG% 
C #21 Nik Popovic, 6-11 243, SO 
23.4 mpg, 9.3 ppg, 6 rpg, 51% FG% 

Key Reserves


#2 Avery Wilson, 6-3 220, FR
3.6 mpg, 1.7 ppg, 0.1 apg, 100% 3P%
F #11 Vin Baker Jr., 6-7 177, FR 
9.1 mpg, 1.7 ppg, 0.9 rpg, 33% FG% 
F/C  #12 Johncarlos Reyes, 6-10 224, SO 
12.1 mpg, 3.7 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 59% FG% 
F/C #13 Luka Kraljevic, 6-10 229, FR 
6.3 mpg, 1.6 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 47% FG% 


The ABC's of BC:

A) The starting backcourt has been carrying this team. We expected the starting pairing of Ky Bowman and Jerome Robinson would prove effective. They've lived up to expectations. Bowman is BC's highest usage player, scoring 16.6 ppg and dishing 5.4 assists a night, while being very effective in the lane. Robinson is also prolific, 16.5 points, 3.2 assists a night with an enviable 46% from long range. He was a perfect 5-5 from 3 against Duke. The surprise has been Jordan Chatman, who's scoring 14 points on 43% 3-point shooting as well, so the starting guards are all weapons that must be respected. The depth behind them is nearly non-existant, so expect each of these to play at least 35 minutes, maybe all 40 if the game is close.

B) Deontae Hawkins left big shoes to fill. The redshirt senior big man was averaging over 12 points and 9 rebounds a game when he went down for the year with a knee injury (he may still be eligible for a do-over senior year a la Mike Scott). That leaves BC with a rotation of five underclassmen to eat up minutes at the 4 and 5. Popovic has been solid scoring on the blocks, though is struggling to play long stretches. Mitchell has been okay on the glass but is raw when the ball is in his hands on offense. None of the reserves are standing out, even against lesser competition. Without Hawkins, BC's margin for error in the post is very slim.

C) BC has struggled away from home. The Eagles have left Chestnut Hill five times this year, and the only wins they've found were over LaSalle (KenPom #141) and Hartford (KenPom #322). Their shooting has been ice cold in the three losses, 4-22 from 3 at Nebraska, 5-23 at Providence, and 4-16 vs Texas Tech. Facing Virginia's solid 3P% defense (30.2%) is going to be a tall task for BC's guards.

Their season to date:

Boston College is 10-3 on the year. They've lost at Providence, at Nebraska, and to Texas Tech (neutral). Their signature win is a home upset over Duke. They're on a five-game winning streak, otherwise against sub-200 competition. 

Keys to getting the win:

1) Control the glass. BC has done a lot of its damage this year on second chance points; their 35.1% offensive rebounding percentage is one of the best in the country. Even without Hawkins, they're doing well with Popovic and Mitchell hitting the boards. They grabbed 10 against Duke, 16 against Providence. Our disciplined box outs should be enough to take them out their groove here. Similarly, they've done well on the defensive glass but most of that's been against subpar competition. Duke grabbed 13 offensive boards, so the opportunities are there to do some damage if we're persistent.

2) Get to the rim. Boston College wants teams to shoot contested threes (sound familiar?), Their perimeter defense is one of their few strengths on that end, holding teams to only 31.6%. They've been using zones to goad teams into taking a ton of 3's against them; almost half of their opponents' shots (43%) are from deep, and it's been keeping them in games. The key to beating zone teams isn't to bomb away, it's to break the zone down, and it's going to be critical that the Hoos use good interior passing to do just that. This goes double when Popovic is on the bench, as both his backups (Kraljevic and Reyes) are foul prone. 

3) Outlast them. They're 331st nationally in bench minutes, only a combined 46 minutes a night go to reserves, and that's including blowouts over bad teams. In tight games, the starters are playing almost the entire game. In last week's OT win over Richmond, the bench logged a combined 27 minutes (12%). Bowman and Chatman played all 45 minutes. The stats were similar for the Duke game. We have to grind them down over these 40 minutes, don't let them rest (though the zone defense is designed to allow that), make them work on offense, so that we can separate in the second half.

Jumping Off Stage Two

Updated on December 29, 2017 by Seattle Hoo

It's Go Time!  The ACC Campaign starts with Boston College invading Charlottesville, fresh off a victory against Duke. Their confidence should be sky high after dismantling #1 Duke. They won't find the senior-led Hoos quite so easy to confuse.

Boston College beat Duke by confusing them with switching defenses and a lot of crossing actions on offense that forced Duke's freshmen to make decisions. Switching led to bad matchups and good ball movement caught the Devils in bad rotations. On the other end, Duke looked hopelessly confused by what BC was doing on defense, and their offense was a series of individual plays and offensive rebounds. Talent was not able to overcome inexperience. BC coach Jim Christian put together a masterful game plan for Duke and his team executed it with inspiration.

Christian is sure to have a different game plan for Virginia, but expect it to be similar in looking to find a matchup they can exploit, or an action that they expect to disfigure the Virginia defense and create openings. They most likely have one thing they think will work and plan to go to it repeatedly.  It most likely will involve ball screens or a weave, both of which they showed against Duke and both of which figure into most "beat the PacklineTM" strategies. Such strategies rarely work for long, and Virginia's defense has been as cohesive this season as I've ever seen it.

As for matchups, Isaiah Wilkins (#ZAY) should find himself almost all game matched up against a freshman of similar height. BC starts Steffon Mitchell at the 4. As StLouHoo told us, expect him to play most of the game. BC does not really have the wherewithall to go 4-small, because they only have 3 experienced, high quality guards and all of them start. So expect #ZAY to feast on the talented and game but raw Mitchell and backup freshman Vin Baker, Jr.  Yes, Vin Baker.  This edition is 6-7, 177, making him skinnier than Jay Huff. Kyle Guy might even outweigh him.  And he is supposed to go up against the ferocious #ZAY?  Look for #ZAY to roam and help a lot on defense and seek opportunities to isolate on his defender. I don't care that Mitchell is listed at 222 pounds, he's no match for a grown ass man, which is what #ZAY has become.

The BC guards are nasty and tough to control, and if they are going to have any hope to win, it is going to rest on those guys getting the better of the Hoos guards.  Look for Devon Hall to lock horns with Jerome Robinson. The 6-6, 191-pounder gets to the rim and shoots the three, so he requires Virginia's best defender. That will be Hall, backed up by Hunter.  The 6-5 Hall will need to be focused, because Robinson is going to play the whole game.  I would like to see Hall attacking down the gut of the defense from top of the key, and along the baseline, both of which are strengths of his and could rack up some fouls on the BC guards and big man Nik Popovic.

As for the other senior, Nigel Johnson, the 6-1, 188-pound Ky Bowman looks like the natural opponent.  Having Johnson's quickness on Bowman could be an advantage for the Hoos that gets him a lot of time.  It will be interesting to see what Bennett does, because Bowman is also the best matchup for Kyle Guy, who gives up a lot of size to both Robinson and the 6-5, 200-pound Jordan Chatman, who had a big game against UVA last season.  Bowman will foul and nearly fouled out of the Duke game, so Nigel will want to be aggressive with the dribble, and some iso plays could be in order. Bennett does not feature the iso normally, but there is precedent, namely the 2013 win over Duke when Jontel Evans ran it repeatedly, usually with a ball screen from Akil Mitchell.  This could be a good way to attack Bowman.

As StLouHoo wrote, BC is a zone team. They use a lot of it, which could alter what was said above about the offensive end. However, going zone against UVA is fraught with danger and no opponent has stayed in one for long against this team. They share the ball so well and have so many deadly three-point shooters that BC will probably be forced to play man-to-man more than Christian wants.


This is a better BC team than we're accustomed to. This team should win a half dozen ACC games this year and make the NIT, and that's a respectable step towards relevancy for the Eagles (who are playing without any seniors). But I'm just not convinced they can shoot well enough away from home to stay in this, and Tony's had a long break to work on attacking their zone. If we can be patient with our passes, break their zone down, then this game should be comfortable towards the end. 

Hoos Win - 68-55