Ky Bowman is in the NBA, Jordan Chatman graduated, and Wynston Tabbs is out for the year after knee surgery. Things will look quite a bit different for Boston College men’s basketball in 2019-20 as head coach Jim Christian enters his sixth season at the helm. The Eagles have finished above .500 just once (2017-18) under Christian, and that was with two future NBA guards in the backcourt. They’ll have a steeper battle this year with a team that has question marks in the backcourt and only one established returning scorer in senior center Nik Popovic.
On Thursday night, the daunting ACC schedule was officially released, solidifying the 2019-20 schedule for Christian and BC. Here’s what you need to know:
2019-20 Schedule (Note: italicization denotes ACC competition):
Nov. 6 vs. Wake Forest (Chestnut Hill, Mass.) *Home Opener
→ The season starts with an ACC opponent for the first time in program history, as Danny Manning’s Demon Deacons come to town in the first week of November. Manning was retained as the coach despite his second straight 11-20 season, and Wake Forest will be aiming to turn things around. Upperclassmen Brandon Childress and Chaundee Brown will carry the brunt of the load after Manning’s recruiting class placed 12th in the ACC.
Nov. 10 at USF (Tampa, Fla.)
Nov. 13 vs. High Point (Chestnut Hill, Mass.) *Gotham Classic
Nov. 16 vs. Belmont (Chestnut Hill, Mass.) *Gotham Classic
→ The Bruins enjoyed an impressive 2018-19, going 26-5 and earning a berth in the NCAA Tournament. They knocked off Temple handily in the First Four, then hung with sixth-seeded Maryland and nearly pulled an upset before losing, 79-77. Nick Muszynski, standing 6-foot-11, averaged nearly 15 points per game as a freshman and could be a tough matchup inside. Belmont was also 18th in KenPom’s offensive efficiency metric last season.
Nov. 20 vs. Eastern Washington (Chestnut Hill, Mass.) *Gotham Classic
Nov. 23 vs. DePaul (Chestnut Hill, Mass.)
Nov. 27 vs. Saint Louis (Chestnut Hill, Mass.) *Gotham Classic
Dec. 3 vs. Northwestern (Chestnut Hill, Mass.) *ACC/Big Ten Challenge
→ AJ Turner returns to Conte Forum with the Wildcats in December. The 6-foot-7 forward left BC after his sophomore year and averaged 8.7 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game last year after sitting out a season. Northwestern figures to have a stout defense—it finished 19th overall in KenPom’s defensive efficiency ratings last year—but its offense leaves something to be desired.
Dec. 7 at Notre Dame (Notre Dame, Ind.)
→ A return to conference action follows the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, with the Eagles flying to South Bend to face their rivals—who swept two meetings with them last year. The Irish had an injury-plagued 2018-19 campaign that saw them fall to the cellar of the conference, but that figures to change this year. Seniors T.J. Gibbs and John Mooney should both average double-digits, while sophomore guard Prentiss Hubb will aim to take a step forward in an offense that has loads of returning experience.
Dec. 10 vs. Albany (Chestnut Hill, Mass.)
Dec. 15 vs. Central Connecticut State University (Chestnut Hill, Mass.)
Dec. 21 vs. California (San Francisco, Calif.) *Al Attles Classic
→ BC earned a birth in the inaugural Al Attles Classic, which is being played at the Chase Center—the brand new home of Bowman and the Golden State Warriors. There, the Eagles will face a Golden Bears side that managed just eight wins all of last season but have a new coach in Mark Fox. He’ll lean on the duo of Paris Austin and Matt Bradley after Justice Sueing transferred to Ohio State.
Dec. 31 at Duke (Durham, N.C.)
→ ACC play continues with a road trip to face a reloading Blue Devils team. Gone is the vaunted trio of Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett, and Cam Reddish—but in comes a pair of five-star recruits and the No. 3 recruiting class in the country, per 247Sports. The names to know: returning point guard Tre Jones and freshmen Vernon Carey, Matthew Hurt, and Wendell Moore.
Jan. 7 vs. Virginia (Chestnut Hill, Mass.)
→ The schedule doesn’t get any easier as the defending national champions come to town. There’s no Kyle Guy or De’Andre Hunter, which understandably has the Cavaliers facing lower expectations, but never doubt a team coached by Tony Bennett. Upperclassmen will lead the way—Braxton Key, Mamadi Diakite, and Jay Huff will step into larger roles.
Jan. 11 vs. Georgia Tech (Chestnut Hill, Mass.)
Jan. 15 at Syracuse (Syracuse, N.Y.)
Jan. 19 at Wake Forest (Winston-Salem, N.C.)
Jan. 22 at Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
→ Last year, BC ended its season in a dismal fashion, falling to Jeff Capel’s Panthers in the first round of the ACC Tournament. It was an inglorious end to Bowman and Chatman’s careers, and it’s a loss that will likely be on many minds when they meet near the end of January. Pittsburgh figures to take a step forward in 2019 after leaning on freshmen, with Xavier Johnson and Trey McGowens poised to have strong seasons.
Jan. 25 vs. Virginia Tech (Chestnut Hill, Mass.)
→ Mike Young takes the reins from Buzz Williams in Blacksburg after a decade-plus at Wofford, and it should be a rebuilding year of sorts. The Hokies went to the Sweet 16 last year but should take a considerable step back after losing Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Justin Robinson, and Kerry Blackshear. Expect Young to look to Isaiah Wilkins A reserve last season, the sophomore will need to quickly settle into the starting rotation and help run Virginia Tech offense.
Jan. 29 vs. Louisville (Chestnut Hill, Mass.)
→ Jordan Nwora is easily one of the best players in the ACC, and he’ll come to Conte Forum at the end of January. T-Rank estimates have Nwora averaging 17 points and seven rebounds per game next season, and BC had a difficult time with him last year. He’s flanked by seniors Dwayne Sutton and Steven Enoch, as well as a five-star recruit in the 6-foot-8 Samuell Williamson.
Feb. 1 at North Carolina (Chapel Hill, N.C.)
→ The Tar Heels boast a similarly impressive recruiting haul as Duke, finishing two points behind them in the composite rankings. BC will likely have a difficult time containing Cole Anthony, a five-star recruit who was the MVP of the McDonald’s All-American Game and figures to be an NBA Draft lottery pick in 2020. Anthony tops the T-Rank charts in terms of preseason projections, and he’ll need to live up to the hype—UNC is replacing Cameron Johnson, Luke Maye, Nassir Little, and Coby White.
Feb. 4 vs. Duke (Chestnut Hill, Mass.)
Feb. 8 at Virginia Tech (Blacksburg, Va.)
Feb. 12 at Miami (Coral Gables, Fla.)
→ The last few meetings between these two teams have been entertaining, whether it was Lonnie Walker IV leading his team back from a 14-point deficit or Bowman’s game-winning layup that same season. The Hurricanes will be an interesting team to watch as they’re replacing three starters but welcome back dynamic point guard Chris Lykes and sharpshooter Dejan Vasiljevic.
Feb. 16 vs. North Carolina State (Chestnut Hill, Mass.)
Feb. 19 at Virginia (Charlottesville, Va.)
Feb. 22 vs. Clemson (Chestnut Hill, Mass.)
→ The trio of players that have made things difficult for BC in the past against the Tigers—Marcquise Reed, Elijah Thomas, and Shelton Mitchell—have all graduated. Again, it’s a new-look team for Brad Brownell, and role players will move up and amass more minutes. Aamir Simms will lead the way after averaging eight points and five rebounds a season ago, while four-star freshman Al-Amir Dawes should make a rather immediate impact.
Feb. 26 vs. Notre Dame (Chestnut Hill, Mass.)
Mar. 3 vs. Syracuse (Chestnut Hill, Mass.)
→ Tyus Battle, who scored 51 points in two games against the Eagles last season, entered the NBA Draft a year early and won’t be around to pick apart Christian’s defense. Oshae Briseet is gone, too, so Jim Boeheim and the Orange will rely on the senior leadership of Elijah Hughes (13.7 points, 4.5 rebounds) and the up-and-coming prodigal son, Buddy Boeheim (6.8 points).
Mar. 7 at Florida State (Tallahassee, Fla.) *Regular Season Finale
→ The regular season wraps up down south against the Seminoles, who made a run to the Sweet 16 last season. The Eagles were able to upset them when they were ranked 11th in the country last January but could have a difficult time repeating that. FSU lost Mfiondu Kabengele but returns Trent Forrest and MJ Walker, in addition to bringing in five-star recruit Patrick Williams. He makes up a six-person recruiting class that ranks fourth in the ACC.
Featured Image by Maggie DiPatri / Heights Editor