The first three opponents of the season for Boston College, what can we expect from Maine, South Carolina State, and Sacred Heart?
The 2017-18 season will be arguably the most crucial men's basketball season in years, as a lot of what happens this year will determine the trajectory of this team under new AD Martin Jarmond.
After spending two seasons in the gutter of the ACC, there is finally a smidgen of hype around this program. Speaking about his team at a Coaches vs. Cancer dinner earlier in the week, BC Head Coach Jim Christian expressed a lot of confidence in his backcourt of Ky Bowman and Jerome Robinson, saying "I'm not going to say they're the best in the country, but there is no better".
While some may interpret Christian's remarks as overly bold--the validity of his statement isn't very important--it's encouraging that Christian is showing some confidence in his squad.
If what Christian claims is even close to true, this will be the most exciting BC basketball team in years, and more than a few ACC wins won't just be a pipe dream.
But before the Eagles can test their backcourt against the ACC's best, they'll begin their season with a tough non-conference slate. In order to celebrate the season officially starting on September 29th, over the next week, EagleAction will be going through the non-conference schedule for the Eagles. We'll give a quick rundown of a few teams each day, and rate the difficulty of that opponent for the Eagles.
First up, the Eagles will open the season with a three game homestand against Maine, South Carolina State, and Sacred Heart.
Maine-Nov. 10 (Friday)-Conte Forum
16-17 Record: 7-25 (3-13 in AEC)
Postseason: Lost in 1st Round of AEC Tournament
Biggest Win: Defeated Hartford (9-23) 52-41 Feb. 6
Worst Loss: Lost to Vermont (29-6) 86-41 in AEC Tournament
Power Five Record: 0-2 (Duke and V. Tech)
Top Returning Scorer: Andrew Fleming, Soph, SF, 10.7ppg
Biggest Departure: Wesley Myers, G, 16.9ppg (Grad Transfer to South Carolina)
New Arrival: Miks Antoms, 6-8, F, Latvia, Unranked
The Eagles open their season against a Maine team that has a record of 24-97 over its past four seasons and hasn’t had a winning record since 2010. Unfortunately for Maine, fourth year Head Coach Bob Walsh will likely be in for another tough season, and Boston College should be able to win this game easily.
Scoring just 64.7 points per game last season, the Black Bears had one of the worst offenses in the country, shooting a sad 40% from the field. Worse, Maine’s top scorer Wesley Myers will head to South Carolina to play for Frank Martin this season, further weakening a bad offense.
Andrew Fleming, a 6-7 Maine native, could provide some problems for the Eagles, as he scored 20+ points twice last season, but Maine is going to be severely outclassed in every aspect of this game. Without the skill or size (Maine’s tallest player is 6-8) to really compete with an ACC team, this game will be a glorified exhibition for BC. Then again, they held Hartford to just 41 points last season, and actually beat them (Boston College cannot say the same).
Expect the Eagles to win big, and if they don’t, something is very wrong.
South Carolina State-Nov. 12 (Sunday)-Conte Forum
South Carolina State
16-17 Record: 11-20 (7-9 in MEAC)
Postseason: Lost in 2nd Round of MEAC Tournament
Biggest Win: Defeated Hampton (14-17) 68-66 Jan. 25
Worst Loss: Lost to Wichita State (31-5) 85-39 Nov. 11
Power Five Record: 0-5 (Miami, Syracuse, Clemson in ACC)
Top Returning Scorer: Tashombe Riley, Sr., F, 11.4 ppg
Biggest Departure: Eric Eaves, G, 16.4 ppg (Graduated)
New Arrival: Lavar Harewood, 6-3, G, (Transfer from Maine), Unranked
After a solid 19-15 record in 2015-16, the SC State Bulldogs fell back to Earth with a disappointing 11-20 2016-17. One of the worst defensive teams in the nation, the Bulldogs allowed their opponents to shoot 48.4% for the year (see Morgan State highlights). In their five games last season against Power Five teams, the Bulldogs gave up an average of 90.2 points--including surrendering 101 points to Syracuse.
One advantage that SC State will have over Boston College is turnovers. Last season, the Bulldogs were the 53rd best team in the nation at taking care of the ball, while Boston College ranked 283rd. If the Bulldogs are able to win the turnover battle and take advantage of the Eagles’ mistakes, they could hang around in this game.
Scoring 80+ points 8 times, SC State had some strong offensive performances last season. However, they are also going to be without their best scorer from last season, and with only three players listed above 6-7, the Bulldogs will be heavy underdogs against BC.
There is talent on this roster--Tashombe Riley is a solid wing who shot 50% from the field last year--but not enough size or shooting to really compete with a school like Boston College.
Expect another easy win--hopefully.
Sacred Heart-Nov. 14 (Tuesday)-Conte Forum
16-17 Record: 13-19 (8-10 in NEC)
Postseason: Lost in 1st Round of NEC Tournament
Biggest Win: Defeated Norfolk State (17-17) 61-59 Nov. 25
Worst Loss: Lost to Hartford (9-23) 87-79 Dec. 3
Power Five Record: 0-1, Lost to Boston College 82-75
Top Returning Scorer: Joseph Lopez, Sr., F, 13.2 ppg
Biggest Departure: Quincy McKnight, G, 18.9 ppg (Transferred to Seton Hall)
New Arrival: Tony Boateng, 5-9, G, Commonwealth Academy (MA), Unranked
After going 5-26 in his first season at Sacred Heart, Anthony Latina has led the Pioneers to double digit wins in each of the last three years. With wins over Fordham, Hofstra, Lafayette, Norfolk State, and UMass-Lowell, Sacred Heart proved it could compete outside of the NEC in 2016-2017.
Unfortunately, the Pioneers top scorer, Quincy McKnight, has transferred to Seton Hall, and it is unclear who will fill the void in his absence. In last year’s 82-75 loss to Boston College, McKnight led all scorers with 36 points, relentlessly attacking the hoop and going to the line 18 times.
Down by as many as 13 in the first half, the Pioneers battled back and held a 3 point lead with 11 minutes to play. It took a 32 point night from Jerome Robinson for BC to win, as the non-Jerome-Eagles shot an embarrassing 36% from the field.
This season, BC will have a much bigger talent advantage over Sacred Heart--especially with the departure of McKnight. Sacred Heart was one of the worst teams in the nation at defending the three-pointer last season, and BC should have plenty of opportunities to put this game out of reach.
This will be the Eagles’ most difficult game of the season to that point, but alas, an easy victory should be the outcome.
P.S. The Eagles will be in good company with Sacred Heart, who was also defeated by Hartford last season.