Sunday, November 8, 2009

Boston College men's basketball 2009-2010 Preview

As I've stated here before, I expect a decent 2009-2010 out of the BC Eagles, but sometimes I feel alone in that regard.  The ACC voters think BC is a 9th-place team, and the media think Tyrese Rice's departure will create a black hole so large that the whole of Lower Campus will be consumed.  I, on the other hand, see talent and potential on this team.

Any time a team loses their leading scorer, people are going to notice.  I've already made the case, however, for why this is not as drastic as it sounds.  I fully expect Joe Trapani, Rakim Sanders, and Josh Southern to improve, and to see guys like Corey Raji, Reggie Jackson, and Biko Paris continue to play key roles in the team's success.  Tyrese Rice was a nice piece to have, but he was not holding the Eagles up all by himself as so many would have you believe.

There are no newcomers on this squad this year, so you won't have to learn any new names.  The only major change you'll see to the Eagles' starting lineup will be Tyrese Rice out and Biko Paris in (although Andy Katz said that Skinner will play both Biko and Reggie at the point).  Everything else will be the same, though I think we will see more of Evan Ravenel this year as I've heard he has improved his play.  Most of us should expect a lot of these guys to get better and maintain a decent standard of play as they are now more of a veteran team with a few years of experience under their belts.  These are not a bunch of raw freshmen Al Skinner is throwing out there; Sanders, Trapani, Raji, and Southern are juniors now.  There's no reason they can't win games.

I'm going to change gears here, as most of you already know what to expect out of these guys, and go right for the schedule.  Do yourselves a favor and don't take much of anything out of the exhibition game other than the fact that BC didn't get picked off in theirs like some other school BC used to play in the Big East.

The season begins on Friday night at home against Dartmouth and continues with another home game against St. Francis.  If the Eagles are anywhere near decent, they will win both of these games easily and we won't remember a thing about either one of them.  Things get a little more interesting in late November as the Eagles fly down to St. Thomas for the Paradise Jam (I envy those who are going).  This could be a nice stretch for BC in terms of their RPI: they will play St. Joe's with the possibility of also playing Purdue, Northern Iowa, and/or Tennessee.

Their RPI may also be helped by their next games against Providence and Michigan (ACC-Big Ten Challenge).  The Eagles have yet to lose a challenge game, and beat Michigan in the challenge in 2007.  On December 6th, after 18 full days without having played a home game, the Eagles will come back for a string of games at Conte which will carry them into 2010.  During that time, they will play Miami in their first ACC game, Harvard (DO NOT LOSE), Rhode Island, Bryant, UMass, South Carolina, Maine, and NJIT.  Some of those teams are bad, some are OK, but all games are winnable.  This team is usually good for a WTF loss every year though, and last year it was Harvard.  There may be one in here too, although I would surely hope not.

The ACC schedule will resume for good on January 9th as the Eagles play Clemson and Duke in what will surely be a barometer.  They then come home for Maryland, and then visit Miami and Virginia Tech.  It gets no easier, as BC will have three tough home games in a row: Clemson, Florida State, and Duke, and BC would surely like to win at least two of those (especially if one of them is Duke).  Following that is another difficult road trip to Wake Forest and Florida State, after which they will have more critical games at home against UNC and Virginia Tech.  The regular season ends at Georgia Tech, at home against Virginia, and at North Carolina State.

I don't have to tell any of you that this is a tough schedule in arguably the toughest conference in the country.  One thing I like is the out-of-conference schedule, where there are a number of potential tournament teams, such as Purdue (trendy pick to win the Big Ten, but they may or may not play them), Michigan, Tennessee (may or may not play them), and South Carolina.  You also know that BC will get some great chances to move up into the polls given their ACC schedule.  I'm not big on preseason polls, but in the current AP, 4 ACC teams are currently ranked and 4 others (including BC) received votes.  The Eagles will have many chances to get themselves ranked this year, and I figure they will find their way into the Top 25 at least once (so long as they spare themselves from suffering any WTF losses).

How do I think BC will fare?  Better than 9th, I'll tell you that much.  BC was picked 11th last year (WITH Tyrese Rice) and finished 6th.  Now, BC is picked 9th without the guy that the media thinks is so crucial to their success, and I don't think they'll be right this time, either.  For the reasons I stated at the beginning of the article, I expect another relatively good ACC showing, 20+ overall wins, a win in the ACC Tournament, and another NCAA Tournament berth.  Some people will be surprised by it, but not me, and neither should anyone else who calls themselves a BC fan.

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