BC – Duke Preview
By Ben Neuwirth
The Boston College Eagles will host the Duke Blue Devils in their first conference game of the season, Saturday, December 9th at noon. The Eagles are coming off a cathartic win against Hartford while the Blue Devils come into the contest the unanimous #1 team in the Associated Press Poll.
|Duke||Stats courtesy Kenpom.com||Boston College|
|5-0||Last Five Games||3-2|
|Projected Starting Five|
|Trevon Duval||PG||Ky Bowman|
|Grayson Allen||SG||Jerome Robinson|
|Gary Trent Jr||SF||Jordan Chatman|
|Marvin Bagley||PF||Steffon Mitchell|
|Wendell Carter||C||Nik Popovic|
Focus Down Low
Duke starts two future NBA lottery picks down low, Marvin Bagley and Wendell Carter, who stand over 6-10 and sport wingspans well in excess of 7 feet. With Deontae Hawkins out for the year, BC’s rebounding and interior defense is a huge question mark. Not only are Carter and Bagley huge but they are fast, particularly the projected #1 pick Marvin who often dribble drives from the three-point line to the rim in just a couple of steps. Hawkins was by far the best option to guard him but now that task will fall to freshman Steffon Mitchell, at 6-7 he will be giving up more than 5 inches to Bagley. That’s not fair to ask of him. Nor is it wise to ask Popovic and Johncarlos Reyes to face off against Carter and supersub Marques Bolden, both are simply too athletic for either to hang with. But Coach Jim Christian has no choice.
Shoot 3s, Lots of 3’s
The Eagles have struggled with their stroke this season, nailing just 31.8% of their shots from behind the line, but they have 3 guys, Bowman, Robinson and Chatman, who can catch fire at anytime and a 4th in Steffon Mitchell who’s at least a somewhat credible threat. Duke is going to score in bunches and given the Blue Devil’s size advantage, they will probably put up more shots than BC too. However if the maroon-and-gold can match Duke’s 2’s with 3’s, they could close the gap. Ky specifically needs to channell whatever energy he was feeling in the ACC opener last year in which he hit 7 of 8 from downtown if BC has even a fighter’s chance against this juggernaut squad.
The bottom line is that Duke outclasses Boston College in just about every way, from size to talent to coaching and even perhaps outside shooting as Grayson Allen and Gary Trent Jr. are some of the best marksmen in the ACC. The loss of Hawkins comes at the absolutely worst time as he was the keystone for this team defensively, on the boards and his mid post game would lend the offense a lifeline when things bog down. A loss of a senior leader right before your biggest game of the season can be demoralizing. But there is still the entirety of the conference schedule left and the team needs to keep pushing, if only for the sake of long sufferring fans such as myself. A strong scrappy effort saturday, even if its not reflected on the scoreboard, would go a long way in easing fan’s anxiety about the rest of the year.
Duke 90 BC 75
If Teddy Hawkins was still on the floor I’d have this game closer but with him out for the season, Duke will have a major advantage down low and on the glass. This team is stacked with talent, Carter, Bagley and Duval are projected NBA lottery picks while Allen was a player of the year candidate. While Ky and Jerome may be able to limit the damage Allen and Diuval can do, Popovic and Mitchell should get wrecked by the Blue Devil Bigs. BC’s depth has also taken a hit as the first two guys off the bench, Johncarlos Reyes and Vin Baker Jr, frankly shouldn’t be playing at all in this type of game given their development so far. This could get really ugly and the sold out, likely Duke dominated crowd at Conte Forum will be loud. If the score gets too painful to look at, check out the matchup between Bowman and Duval, both hope to be drafted in the league this spring and if Ky wants to up his stock he needs to dominate games like this.