The Eagles will host arguably their weakest opponent of the year: Central Connecticut State University
Next up for the Eagles is a CCSU team that struggled heavily last season. One of the worst teams in the nation last year on both sides of the ball, the Blue Devils will be heavy underdogs in this one.
Central Connecticut State-Dec. 17 (Sunday)-Conte Forum
16-17 Record: 6-23 (4-14 in NEC)
Biggest Win: Defeated Mount St. Mary’s (20-16) 54-52 Feb. 4
Worst Loss: Lost to St. Francis NY (4-27) 86-77 Dec. 31
Power Five Record: 0-1 (Rutgers)
Top Returning Scorer: Austin Nehls, Jr., G, 13.4 ppg
Biggest Departure: Khalen Cumberlander, G, 13.2 ppg (Graduated)
New Arrival: Kashaun Hicks, 6-5, F, The MacDuffie School (MA), Unranked
I was going to say this game would be an easy win for BC, but then the Blue Devils went out and signed Marvin Bagley III, the number one player in the 2017 class. Wait a second, wrong Blue Devils.
These Blue Devils, the ones from Central Connecticut State, are on the rise though. 2016-17 was their best season in three years as the Blue Devils finished with a 6-23 record--improving from their previous records of 4-25 and 5-26. Still not great, but it's a start.
After spending the previous twenty seasons under Head Coach Howie Dickenman--a tenure that featured three NCAA Tournament appearances--the Blue Devils turned to Donyell Marshall in 2016-17 to lead them back to relevancy. Marshall, who played at UConn, has fifteen years of NBA experience, and knows the game in and out, was one of the best collegiate players in the nation in his day. After spending seven years as an assistant coach at a few schools, he was finally given the chance to run his own ship at CCSU.
Unfortunately, CCSU struggled mightily last season, finishing with the 11th worst offense in Division 1--averaging a terrible 63 ppg. To make matters worse, the Blue Devils also had a bottom-fifty defense, giving up 47% shooting on the year and 38% from deep.
After winning their first game of the season against Hartford 75-60, CCSU would go on to lose 17 of their next 18--losing by an average of 14 points in the process. By the end of the season, three of their six wins had come against teams with under ten wins--Hartford, Maine, and the 4-27 St. Francis (NY).
Heading into this season, CCSU will be losing two starters in Khalen Cumberlander and Tidell Pierre. They’ll be expecting sophomores Tyson Batiste, Chris Williams, and Donyell Marshall Jr. (of course) to take a step up and pick up some of the slack--but don't expect a dramatic leap forward for this team, they'll probably still be bad.
Austin Nehls is the main man for CCSU. The leading scorer for the Blue Devils at 13.4 ppg, Nehls shot 37.6% from deep in 16-17, hitting 3+ triples in eleven games last season.
The biggest threat for the Eagles will be Nehls; if he can get hot, the Blue Devils might have a puncher’s chance in this game, but on paper, this will be the worst team BC is facing all season--probably worse than Maine. Even if they are able to hit some threes and take an early lead, I don’t see anyway their defense will be able to compete with the physicality of a squad like BC.
BC will win this game, hopefully by a lot. Anything less than that should be considered a disappointment.