Non-Conference Preview: Texas Tech, Northwestern, La Salle

Evan Gray, Staff
Eagle Action

Boston College will head to Mohegan Sun Arena for the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament. They play Texas Tech in the first round, followed by Northwestern or La Salle in the second round.

In the second edition of our non-conference previews (you can read part 1 HERE), we will be focusing on the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament, taking place on the weekend of November 18th.

The Eagles' trip to Mohegan Sun will be their first games of the season away from Conte Forum, and they are going to be facing some tough competition. After taking on Texas Tech in the first round, BC will play either Northwestern or La Salle in the second round.

What should BC be expecting from these opponents? Could BC win this tournament? Find out below, as we get an overview of each opponent and rate them on the difficulty-meter.

Texas Tech-Nov. 18 (Saturday)-Mohegan Sun Arena

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Texas Tech

16-17 Record: 18-14 (6-12 in Big 12)

Postseason: Lost in 1st Round of Big 12 Tournament

Biggest Win: Defeated #4 Baylor (27-8) 84-78 Feb. 13

Worst Loss: Lost to Oklahoma State (20-13) 83-64 Jan. 21

Power Five Record: 0-2 Outside of Big 12 (Auburn, LSU)

Top Returning Scorer: Keenan Evans, Sr., G, 15.4 ppg

Biggest Departure: Anthony Livingston, F, 9.9 ppg (Graduated)

New Arrival: Daniel Mading, 6-9 F, Australia, 3 Stars

Highlights: Texas Tech vs. Baylor, Texas Tech vs. Texas

Thoughts:

After an NCAA tournament appearance in 2016, Red Raider Head Coach Tubby Smith left for Memphis, and Chris Beard took over the reigns in Lubbock. Posting a 30-5 record at Little Rock in 2015-16, Beard’s first season at Texas Tech was a mixed bag, as the Red Raiders posted a 3-4 record against top 25 opponents--with victories of #25 Kansas State, #7 West Virginia, and #4 Baylor--but also posted a lackluster 6-12 record in the Big 12.For every major victory the Red Raiders had, they also had a loss or near loss to a weaker opponent.

Last season, the Red Raiders calling card was their stellar defense, as they gave up just 43% shooting on an average of 67 points per game--allowing the 25th fewest baskets in the nation. The heart of the Red Raider defense starts with Senior forward Justin Gray, who often was tasked with guarding the best wings in the conference. With Gray in the lineup, Texas Tech’s defense improved by an average of 5.2 points per 100 possessions.

On the offensive side of the floor, the Raiders eclipsed 80 points 9 times last season, including an 84-78 victory over #4 Baylor. In the upset, Raider guard Keenan Evans scored a team high 23 points, getting to the charity stripe 14 times. The offense at Texas Tech flows through Evans, now a senior, who averaged 15.4 ppg with on 43% shooting from 3. Whoever on BC is tasked with guarding Evans, whether it is Ky Bowman or Jerome Robinson, is in for a long day.

This game will be the first major test for BC--their first Power Five opponent, their first game away from Conte Forum, and their first game in a tournament setting. Last season, we saw BC get pummeled by a Kansas State team very similar to this Texas Tech squad. The Eagles looked flustered, unprepared, and unmotivated--putting up an embarassing 22 first half points.

If BC comes out for this game nervous and tight, they will certainly lose by double digits. If Jim Christian wants to prove that his backcourt really is the best in the ACC, and that this squad deserves some respect from other ACC squads, then looking competitive against Texas Tech is a must.

This will be a tough game, for sure, and BC will most likely be underdogs, but a win here would give the Eagles plenty of confidence moving forward.

Difficulty: 7/10


Northwestern-Nov. 19 (Sunday)-Mohegan Sun Arena

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USA Today

16-17 Record: 24-12 (10-8 in Big Ten)

Postseason: Lost in Semifinals of Big Ten Tournament, Lost in Round of 32 in NCAA Tournament

Biggest Win: Defeated #7 Wisconsin (27-10) 66-59 Feb. 12

Worst Loss: Lost to Illinois (20-15) 68-61 Feb. 7

Power Five Record: 2-1 Outside of Big Ten (Defeated Wake, Vandy. Lost to Notre Dame)

Top Returning Scorer: Bryant McIntosh, SR, G, 14.8 ppg

Biggest Departure: Sanjay Lumpkin, SG, 6.0 ppg (Graduated)

New Arrival: Anthony Gaines, 6-4 SG, New Hampton School (NY), 3 Stars

AJ Turner, 6-7 F, (Transferred from Boston College), 3 Stars

Highlights: Northwestern vs. Wisconsin, Northwestern vs. Vanderbilt

Thoughts:

BC's game against Texas Tech will be the Eagles’ toughest game of the season--at least until their next opponent. If BC is able to beat Texas Tech, or if Northwestern loses to La Salle, the Eagles will will face a Northwestern squad that won 24 games last year and reached its first ever NCAA Tournament.

With three wins over ranked opponents last season, including a win at #7 Wisconsin, the Wildcats are a force to be reckoned with. Unfortunately for BC, Northwestern will be returning 4 of its 5 starters, only losing guard Sanjay Lumpkin, who averaged just 6 points per game last season. Even worse, BC forward AJ Turner, one of the most versatile wings on the team, has transferred to Northwestern--although he can’t play this season.

Last season, the Wildcats calling card was their defense. They allowed just 65.8 points per game in conference play--2nd best in the Big Ten--and held Texas, Wisconsin, Wake, Indiana, and Iowa all to less than 60 points.

On the other side of the ball, the Wildcats had the 3rd worst offense in the Big 10, putting up just 67.5 points per game in conference play. Luckily for Northwestern, they’ll be returning their top 5 scorers from last season, including point guard Bryant McIntosh. McIntosh, now a senior, led the Wildcats in scoring last season, averaging 14.8 ppg on a fairly inefficient 40% shooting clip. A speedy guard with a knack for creating space or setting up a teammate, McIntosh had 20+ points in 12 games last season, including a 20 point, 10 assist performance against Iowa.

This is a tough game for sure, and while Northwestern may not be as athletic as a team like Texas Tech, they play a lot smarter and If the Eagles want to win this game, they need to play extremely disciplined and take care of the ball. Northwestern is a well coached team that rarely turns it over, so if BC is coughing the ball up, they’ll never win this one.

Difficulty: 7.5/10

La Salle-Nov. 19 (Sunday)-Mohegan Sun Arena

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La Salle

16-17 Record: 15-15 (9-9 in A-10)

Postseason: Lost in 1st Round of A-10 Tournament

Biggest Win: Defeated Bucknell (26-9) 83-73 Dec. 3

Worst Loss: Lost to Penn (13-15) 77-74 Jan. 25

Power Five Record: 0-0. Lost to Georgetown and Villanova

Top Returning Scorer: BJ Johnson, Sr, G, 17.7 ppg

Biggest Departure: Jordan Price, G, 15.3 ppg (Graduated)

New Arrival: Jamir Moultrie, 6-1 PG, Bishop McNamara (MD), 3 Stars

Highlights: La Salle vs. UMass, La Salle vs. Davidson

Thoughts:

The other possible opponent for the Eagles in the second round of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament is La Salle, a team that is pretty much average to below average in every category. They had both the 10th best offense and defense in the A-10 last season (a conference that has 14 teams), shot a solid 45.7% from the field on the year, but gave up a poor 46.7% shooting on defense.

They eclipsed the 80-point mark in 12 games last season, but also gave up 80 points 10 times. La Salle had some solid wins last year, defeating Lehigh, Bucknell, Florida Gulf Coast, and Rhode Island. They played well against #1 ranked Villanova, and were down just 40-36 at halftime before losing 89-79.

For every solid win they had, however, they would lose to a team beneath them, falling to St. Louis, St. Joe’s, UMass, and Penn. This sort of up and down season would make sense for a team that was 15-15 and 9-9 in conference play, so it is really hard to predict what kind of La Salle BC would be playing against. One night they’ll put up 92 points against Temple, but then the next week they’ll score just 52 points against Dayton. Six times last season La Salle shot below 40% from the field--including a 15-53 night against VCU.

This is a game that BC should win if they want to be taken seriously in the ACC, but I’m not going to chalk it up as a done deal. If La Salle plays well, they could honestly beat BC. They have a great wing in 6-7 Senior BJ Johnson, and have some size in 6-10 Tony Washington and 6-9 Demetrius Henry. The talent is there, they are just simply too inconsistent on both sides of the floor to be a great team.

I expect BC to win this game, but if they underestimate their opponent, La Salle could easily sniff an upset and make this one a battle.

Difficulty: 4.5/10

Stay tuned for more previews on BC's upcoming season

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