Previewing 2018-19 Men’s Basketball: Providence

boston college men's basketball

Another fantastic matchup is brewing on the Heights as Boston College men’s basketball prepares to welcome Providence on Tuesday night. Looking to improve to 7-1 for the first time since the 2007-08 season, the Eagles (6-1) will take on their longtime New England and former Big East rival. The Friars (6-2) are consistently one of the better teams in the nation on a year-to-year basis. Their two losses in 2018 have not come from lowly opponents by any means—they suffered a three-point defeat to Wichita State in the Veterans Classic and a 19-point loss to No. 18 Michigan in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off, both NCAA Tournament regulars. The Eagles will be eager to add another impressive win to their resume in this upcoming battle.

Who is BC playing?
Providence

When is BC playing?
Tuesday, Dec. 4, 7 p.m.

Where is BC playing?
Conte Forum, Chestnut Hill, Mass.

How to watch:
This game will be broadcasted on ESPN2 and available on WatchESPN.

By the Numbers:

BC:

1) Nik Popovic has excelled in his recently-acquired sixth man role for the Eagles. In three games off the bench, Popovic is averaging 15.3 points and six rebounds. He’s also shooting 70.4 percent from the field in the second half of games this season.

2) Wynston Tabbs is quickly emerging as a star for the Eagles. After a 28-point explosion against Sacred Heart, he has become a clear scoring threat—he’s averaging 14.6 points per game.

3) The Eagles put on a strong defensive effort against Sacred Heart, posting season highs in steals (10) and blocked shots (six). The Pioneers still totaled 73 points, but shot just 41.7 percent from the field, 10 percentage points lower than their season average.

Providence:

1) Alpha Diallo, the Friars’ anchor thus far, has been a fairly dominant scorer and rebounder. Through eight games, he is flirting with a double-double average at 17 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. He was held to just five points against Rhode Island last time out, though.

2) Providence has played very disciplined team defense thus far. It has held opponents to 16.4 free throw attempts per game and enter with a defensive efficiency of 97.0, good for 57th in KenPom’s rankings.

3) A.J. Reeves has been on point from beyond the arc, shooting a remarkable 47.5 percent from downtown. The freshman sharpshooter went 3-of-6 from 3-point land as part of a 15-point outing against the Rams on Saturday.

Last Meeting:

The two rivals last met on Nov. 25, 2017. It was clearly Providence’s night, as the Friars used an extremely efficient shooting performance to win convincingly, 86-66. While Ky Bowman and Deontae Hawkins both showed out with 19 points each for BC, it was not enough to deter the relentless Providence offense. The Eagles were able to remain in the game for some time—they led, 23-20, with 9:47 left in the first half—but eventually the Friars used a series of runs to put BC away. Four Providence players finished with 12-plus points, including Diallo, who had 15 on 7-of-9 shooting. Poor perimeter defense cost the Eagles, as they struggled to close out on shooters and the Friars connected on 3-pointers at a 55.6 percent clip (10-of-18).

Outlook:

Last year, Providence boasted a deep and experienced roster, en route to an NCAA Tournament appearance as a 10-seed. The Friars came into the 2017-18 campaign with the eighth-best percentage of returning minutes but entered this year at 286th—the product of saying goodbye to Rodney Bullock, Kyron Cartwright, and Jalen Lindsey. Now a much younger team will come to Conte Forum, and BC has a great opportunity to continue to make some national noise—it found itself in the receiving votes section of the AP Poll this past week.

It will be essential for the Eagles to avoid a similarly bad defensive night, and their play so far provides optimism that they’ll be able to contain the likes of Reeves and Diallo. Bowman hasn’t cracked 15 points since his herculean 38-point effort against Wyoming, so a game in which he and Tabbs are both firing on all cylinders will have BC poised for a resume-building win.

Featured Image by Kaitlin Meeks / Heights Editor