Previewing 2017-18 Men’s Basketball: Virginia

Boston College men’s basketball hits the road for the first time since the start of December on Saturday to take on its second ranked foe of the season—No. 9 Virginia. The Cavaliers (11-1) are the nation’s top defensive team and a perfect 8-0 at home. The Eagles (10-3, 1-0 Atlantic Coast) knocked off then-No. 1 Duke to open ACC play, and will look to tie the number of conference wins they had all of last season with a win in Charlottesville.

Who is BC playing?

Virginia

When is BC playing?

Saturday, Dec. 30, 2 p.m.

Where is BC playing?

John Paul Jones Arena, Charlottesville, Va.

How to watch?

The game will be televised on RSN/NESN and livestreamed on WatchESPN.

By the Numbers

BC:

1) Jordan Chatman has become one of the most efficient scorers in the ACC, posting the seventh-highest offensive rating (131.7), despite ranking outside the top 80 in percentage of possessions used (15.6). He’s coming off a career-high 30 points in an overtime win against Richmond.

2) The Eagles have struggled to force turnovers, posting a steal rate of 6.3 percent that ranks last in the ACC and 328th in the country.

3) BC struggled on the glass against Richmond, losing the rebound battle by nine. It was an uncharacteristic performance for the Eagles, who are 36th in the country in offensive rebounding, a 35.1 percent mark.

UVA:

1) The Cavaliers slow the game down to the crawl, sitting last in country in adjusted tempo—a measure of the number of possessions per 40 minutes—at 60.9. They’re almost a full three possessions slower per game then the second-to-last team.

2) UVA’s pack-line defense is tough to crack. Opponents are averaging just 52.3 points against the Cavaliers. They’re holding opponents to a 2-point field goal percentage of 39.3, third in the country, while also posting above-average marks in opponent turnover percentage and 3-point percentage.

3) Senior forward Isaiah Wilkins is the prototypical player under Cavaliers head coach Tony Bennett, filling up the stat sheet. Per game, he’s averaging seven points, seven boards, two assists, and a steal and block apiece.

Last Meeting:

Last January, No. 16 Virginia came into Conte Forum with a deep, balanced roster and rolled to a 71-54 win. The Cavaliers had nine players play 18-plus minutes, building a 17-point halftime lead before taking their foot off the gas. Jordan Chatman played a team-high 33 minutes and led BC in scoring with 16. The Eagles shot just 38.5 percent from the floor and turned the ball over 16 times.

BC Wins if…

It can break through against Virginia’s stiff defense. Last season, it lost the turnover battle by double-digits and wasn’t in the game from the very beginning. The Eagles were held under 40 percent from the field and didn’t really have much of a chance. If the trio of Ky Bowman, Jerome Robinson, and Chatman can get open and knock down their shots, they have the firepower to outscore a less efficient Cavaliers offense.

BC Loses if…

UVA’s defense and depth is too much to overcome. It frustrates opponents almost every game, forcing season-lows in shooting and points per game. The Cavaliers have beaten the Eagles by double-digits each of the last four games, and that’s been a product of the defensive scheme. It clogs the inside, protects the paint, and prevents dribble-penetration. If UVA’s defense proves too much to overcome, it’s tough to see BC winning this one—especially with the Eagles lacking depth and an inside presence, as they’ll flounder if its trio of guards are out of sync.

Featured Image by Kaitlin Meeks / Heights Staff

About Bradley Smart 157 Articles
Bradley is the associate sports editor for The Heights. He believes that America does truly run on Dunkin, March is the best month, baseball teams should always wear stirrups, and being down 3-1, in anything, is never cause for concern. You can follow him on Twitter @bradleysmart15.