Tuesday, December 29, 2009

MBB Game 13: South Carolina at Boston College

The last Boston College sporting event of 2009 should be a relatively entertaining game. The 8-4 Eagles will host the South Carolina Gamecocks at the Conte Forum at 9pm Wednesday, a game that will be broadcast on ESPNU.

If BC wins: 9-4 (1-0), and a Happy New Year for Al Skinner
If BC loses: 8-5 (1-0); BC blows their last chance for a good OOC win

The Gamecocks enter this game with a similar record of 8-3; all of those games outside of the SEC. This will be the first time for BC playing an SEC team since nine years ago to the day, when they beat Vanderbilt at Conte Forum on December 30, 2000.

Down in South Cackalacky, they love their 'Cocks (who doesn't?), but the 8-3 start is somewhat deceiving (much like Miami's 8-0 start was deceptive). Of their eight wins, the best one was perhaps South Florida on November 20th. The others were against pushovers like Jacksonville, Alabama A&M, and Furman. Otherwise, they've lost to Miami and Clemson (ranked 19th at the time), and also lost to Wofford out of the Southern Conference.

Boston College has played slightly more quality opponents overall, but they also have more questionable losses, whereas SC only has one. There is no need to rehash those games, we all know what they are.

Devan Downey is the leading scorer for South Carolina, averaging 17.5 per game and he is one of three men on the team to have started all eleven contests to date. He has taken the most three-point shots on his team, but has only made 29% of them. This is a BC team that has struggled in giving up the threes at times, however, and South Carolina has attempted 40 more of those shots than BC in one fewer game, so you know many shots will be taken from behind the arc. This makes good perimeter defense key for Boston College.

Corey Raji is still BC's leading scorer at 15.7, but Joe Trapani has all but caught him at 15.3. Raji is also the team's leading rebounder, and in general the Eagles are a better team on the boards than South Carolina, at least based upon the results so far this season.

By looking at just the turnover margins, you would think that SC is a clearly better team in that regard. BC, however, averages 11.9 per game, whereas SC averages 14.6. The Gamecocks' turnover margin is favorable because they've had the good fortune of gathering 19.1 takeaways per contest, while BC only collects 11.4. South Carolina turns it over more themselves, but they also steal it away far more. SC has stolen the ball 102 times this year (and had it stolen 86); BC has only gained 49 steals (and had it stolen 66). I have not seen South Carolina in action much at all, but the numbers would suggest that they're aggressive in going after the ball, and almost as prone to giving it away. BC will have to limit the turnovers and take advantage of the ones SC gives them.

South Carolina is a talented team that is thinking NCAA Tournament this year. This will not be an easy win for BC, but it helps that one of SC's best players, Dominique Archie, is unfortunately done for the season. Add into that the 'Cocks 0-2 road record and BC's athleticism and I think you get a close, hard-earned BC win to close out 2009 with a bang.

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