Previewing 2017-18 Men’s Basketball: Syracuse

Boston College men's basketball

In its final home game of the season, Boston College men’s basketball has a chance to not only avenge a blowout road loss earlier in the season, but further dash visiting Syracuse’s postseason chances. The Orange (18-11, 7-9 Atlantic Coast) has lost two straight and has fallen out of ESPN analyst Joe Lunardi’s bracket, currently sitting in the “first four out” category. A loss to the Eagles (16-13, 6-10), barring an impressive run in the conference tourney, would all but ruin Syracuse’s chances at getting in off the bubble. A win, however, would clinch the 11-seed over BC in the upcoming ACC Tournament—and bode well for chances at the “Big Dance.”

Who is BC playing?

Syracuse

When is BC playing?

Tuesday, Feb. 28, 9 p.m.

Where is BC playing?

Conte Forum, Chestnut Hill, Mass.

How to Watch:

The game will be available to livestream on WatchESPN.

By the Numbers:

BC:

1) It’s to nobody’s surprise that Jerome Robinson has been one of the most efficient players in conference play this season. Against ACC foes, the junior boasts a 65.1 effective field goal percentage and averages 25 points per game, both of which lead the conference.

2) The Eagles rank outside the top 11 in conference play in every major defensive category—opponent effective field goal percentage (13th), 3-point percentage (12th), 2-point percentage (12th), block percentage (12th), and steal percentage (11th).

3) Guard Jordan Chatman has struggled lately, hitting just 5-of-21 from beyond the arc in his last three games—all BC losses. When Chatman is held to two or less 3-pointers, the Eagles are two games under .500 at 6-8. Get him going, and BC is 10-4 with three-plus from the sharpshooter.

Syracuse:

1) The Orange trio of Tyus Battle, Frank Howard, and Oshae Brissett have continued to play heavy minutes for head coach Jim Boeheim. All three rank in the top 10 in percentage of team’s minutes played, with Battle leading the country (95.3 percent).

2) At 7-foot-2, center Paschal Chukwu has emerged as a force on the glass on both ends of the floor. Not only does he rank 12th in the country in blocks per game (2.7), but he creates space inside that aids the Syracuse offense‚ his 114.7 offensive rating in conference play is 14th in the ACC.

3) Ranked ninth in the country in defensive efficiency (93.8), the Orange is coming off an impressive outing against Duke, the second-ranked team by offensive efficiency. The Blue Devils were held to 60 points for the first time this season, shooting just 11.1 percent from beyond the arc and turning the ball over 11 times.

Last Meeting:

The Eagles struggled mightily on defense, allowing a Syracuse team that entered with the worst field goal percentage in the conference to erupt, and falling 81-63. The Orange shot a season-high 60.4 percent from the field, en route to the 18-point win as Battle and Howard combined for 42 points. BC struggled to defend penetration from the guards and turned the ball over 17 times in the loss—offsetting the fact that they had early success against Boeheim’s zone.

BC wins if…

It protects the ball and plays Howard and Battle tighter. The duo pushed the ball inside at will in the last meeting, so if the Eagles are able to crowd the lanes and force Syracuse to settle for perimeter shots (317th in 3-point percentage), there’s a good chance the Orange doesn’t clear 70 points. If Robinson and Ky Bowman, meanwhile, can do the reverse—get inside with regularity—perimeter shots could open up and the offensive firepower could be enough.

BC loses if…

Turnovers pile up and it suffers a repeat of last game’s defensive breakdowns. The Eagles were awful on the defensive side, simply put, as Syracuse was able to shoot a season-high percentage from the field and take advantage of miscues. If BC can’t protect the ball and its perimeter shooting isn’t up to par, this could ultimately be another disappointing loss down the stretch—the fourth straight—for the Eagles.

Featured Image by Keith Carroll / Heights Editor

About Bradley Smart 131 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.