BC-Syracuse ACC Opener Preview and Picks
By Ben Neuwirth
Boston College (7-6) hosts the Syracuse Orange (8-5) at Conte Forum this New Year’s Day to kick off their conference schedule. Though Syracuse in usually one of BC’s tougher games on the slate, this Syracuse Orange team is younger and less consistent than some of Coach Jim Boeheim’s past squads.
The Orange are led in scoring Senior Transfer Andrew White III. Coming over from Nebraska , the 6-7 guards puts in 14.8 points a game mostly from long distance, he shoots 8 three’s a game at a 38% clip.
Sophomore Tyler Lydon is the other ‘Cuse player averaging double digits, 12.8 PPG at an efficient 47.1% from the floor. Along with freshman Taurean Thompson and Tyus Battle, he forms the core of this young team that Coach Boeheim compared to his 2011 Elite Eight team in the preseason.
However the Orange have been inconsistent, losing to a relatively weak UConn and getting spanked by an inferior St. John’s team in the Carrier Dome, 93-60. Wins against Cornell, Eastern Michigan and Boston University don’t jump off the page but the vaunted 2-3 zone could pose a problem for the young Boston College Eagles.
Sophomore star Jerome Robinson will have to step up his off ball movement against a zone that will neuter his bread and butter pick ‘n roll game, while ACC Freshman of the week Ky Bowman will have to continue his strong play from the Fairfield and Providence games and provide the Eagles with a credible second option.
A key to breaking the 2-3 is passing to cutters from the free throw line. This is an area where senior Connor Tava and young center Nik Popovic can contribute as we’ve seen flashes of great vision throughout the year but to score consistently the Eagles need big contributions from these guys.
BC has struggled all season with turnovers and free throw shooting, giving the ball away 16 times a game and shooting only 64% from the charity stripe. They were able to overcome these deficits in the win against Auburn but can’t count on that continuing, especially given the loss of PG Ty Graves who announced last week he was transferring to Saint Louis Billikens. Someone on the bench, whether that’s Jordan Chapman, Garland Owens or perhaps the forgotten Ervins Meznieks, will have to fill Graves’ 19 minutes effectively.
The Orange and the Eagles tip off Sunday, January 1st at 12:30. You can listen to the broadcast on the AM stream at WZBCSports.com.
On to the picks:
|Quinn Kelly||Syracuse 80-69||BC seems like they’re going to be a team that picks up surprise victories all season. While last year’s team was a bad team with no real upside, this year’s team has the skill to pull upsets. That being said, 2017 will not open with such an upset over the Orange. For as poorly as Syracuse played through their non-conference schedule, they have just that much to prove if they hope to get anything out of their season. They will come out ready to pick up an expected win over a low-tier ACC opponent. Jerome continues to shine, but the Eagles come up short.|
|Scott Geyman||Boston College 77-73||It’s no coincidence the Eagles have not won an ACC game in 666 days. However, with no sign of the devil yet this season, BC will come out strong against Syracuse, a team with its most non-conference losses (5) in Coach Boeheim’s 41-year tenure. Eagles squeeze the Orange to ring in the new year.|
|Steve McAlee||Syracuse 78-71||The win over Providence showed us what the team can be when things are going right: an explosive, guard-oriented offense that plays free and confident in transition. However, Syracuse is still a very talented team and BC’s biggest rival. The Orange come into Conte Forum energized from the tip so as to not be the Eagles’ first ACC win in nearly two years. Syracuse wins it.|
|Landon Komishane||Syracuse 70-55||Syracuse always plays well against the Eagles (except when they are No. 1), and the fanbase makes it seem like every game is a home game. The orange faithful will fill up Conte, and the Orangemen will light up the scoreboard. The Eagles will keep it close in the first half, but Syrcuse’s talent will show upin the second half aand they will pull away. Syracuse wins 70-55.|
|Ben Neuwirth||Syracuse 76-56|
|Kyle Maslan||Syracuse 75-64|
|Anthony Iati||Syracuse 76-70||It’s hard to judge, since these teams don’t have any common opponents yet. It may be trendy to take BC, as the Orange are in a downswing, but I see Syracuse’s talent advantage winning out, struggles aside.|
|Casey Hague||Boston College 72-68||With the big win over Providence, BC is riding high into this game against Tyler Lydon and the Orange. After starting hot, Syracuse has fallen on hard times, including a 33 point loss to St. John’s. BC plays hard and Robinson scores 30 in BC’s first ACC win of 2017.|