Still seeking its first ACC win, Boston College men’s basketball has flown south to take on North Carolina State in Raleigh. The Eagles (7-22, 0-16 Atlantic Coast) are riding a significant cold streak, dropping their last 16 contests, with the most recent loss coming at the hands of Georgia Tech in a closely fought battle at Conte Forum. The Eagles have been playing without their two best forwards down the stretch of their difficult ACC schedule: freshman phenoms Jerome Robinson and A.J. Turner. With just two conference games remaining, BC is hoping to avoid becoming the first program since the World War II era to go winless in conference play in both football and men’s basketball in the same season.
NC State (14-15, 4-12), a perennial tournament contender, has suffered through an underwhelming season, sitting just above BC and Wake Forest in the ACC’s basement. The Wolfpack began the year with an incredibly promising start, accruing 10 wins through its first 13 games. NC State’s play faltered once ACC competition began, however, as it has managed just four conference wins, and have dropped its last two bouts to North Carolina and Syracuse, respectively. The Pack will be looking to get a convincing home win to build some sort of momentum heading into the uphill battle of the ACC tournament.
Last Time They Played: The last matchup between the Eagles and the Wolfpack dates back to Mar. 2, 2015 when an equally lackluster BC squad pulled out an impressive 79-63 victory over an NC State team that would go on to reach the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament. Former BC standout and NBA draft pick Olivier Hanlan led the charge for the Eagles, going 7-of-11 from the field and 3-of-4 from deep en route to a 24-point night. Despite Hanlan’s impressive stat line, it was ultimately a team effort that secured the BC win, with all five BC starters finishing with double digit points.
Three Keys to the Game:
- Contain Anthony Barber State’s junior guard Anthony Barber has been one of the lone bright spots for a mediocre Wolfpack team this season. The ACC’s leading scorer averages 23.2 PPG and boasts the best nickname in the conference, “The Cat.” A former high school All-American, Barber is a likely NBA draft pick should he choose to forgo his senior season. “The Cat” lives up to his name with lightning quick speed that will pose a challenge to the less than agile Dennis Clifford under the hoop. He has the ability to find the bottom of the net from almost anywhere on the court, and is not afraid to shoot the ball. Against No. 7 UNC, he racked up 32 points on an astounding 26 attempts from the field, more than double the attempts of any other member of the Wolfpack. BC needs to devout extra defensive attention to containing Barber in order to limit his shot attempts.
- Get Matt Milon More Involved Offensively: The Eagles’ freshman sharpshooter has struggled to find his footing thus far into his BC career. Primarily coming off the bench, Milon is averaging just 5.2 points per game despite boasting an impressive .481 3-point percentage. Injuries to Robinson and Turner, however, have opened the door for Milon to begin making major offensive contributions. Despite his inexperience, Milon is the Eagles’ only real threat from behind the arc, having made 37 triples in very limited playing time this season. He flashed his potential as a shooter in a 25-point effort against Syracuse, hitting 5-of-7 from deep. Given the depleted lineup and the general feeling of hopelessness that enshrouds this team, it would be extremely beneficial for Christian to begin preparing for the future by adding an offensive dimension that has been sorely lacking from this Eagles this year.
- Ball Security and Limiting Turnovers: Unfortunately for the Eagles, these have been common points of emphasis throughout the season. As stellar as the play of Eli Carter has been, he has struggled with his ball security, turning it over an unprecedented 101 times this season, including 10 turnovers last week against Georgia Tech. Granted, he has accounted for twice as many points and shot attempts of anyone else on the team, but that does not excuse his cavalier handling of the ball. Carter needs to be more of a facilitator, drawing in defensive attention in the paint, then looking for open options on the wings or up top. BC will be able to diversify its offense by getting more scorers involved while limiting turnovers and fast break points.
Featured Image by Nick Lisi / AP Photo