Friday, January 8, 2010

MBB Game 16: Boston College at Clemson

The next sixteen games that BC plays -- at least -- will be Atlantic Coast Conference games. This is the stretch that will officially make or break their season, and it starts at the Littlejohn Coliseum on Saturday afternoon.

If BC wins: 11-5 (2-0); a much-needed 2-0 ACC start and a win over a ranked team
If BC loses: 10-6 (1-1); Clemson retains their recent ownership of BC

Clemson (-9.5) is ranked 21st in the Coaches Poll, but is unranked in the AP poll. They are 12-3 (0-1), with that ACC loss in their most recent game at Duke, where the Tigers lost by 21 points. They still have Trevor Booker, now in his senior season, and he is sure to do some damage as their leading scorer once again. Gone is Terrence Oglesby, who hit about 700 three-pointers each time these two teams played.

Clemson generally scores a bunch (but not in their last game), with 78.3 points per game (46th in the country). In that Duke game, however, they only scored 12 points in the first half. They also don't allow the other team to score very much, with 62.4 points allowed (59th). They're decent on the boards as well with a +4.9 rebounding margin (64th). The Tigers play good defense also in terms of steals, coming in 4th in the nation with 11.2 per game. They have a positive turnover margin, but on the offensive side of the ball, they turn it over a whole hell of a lot. In that department, they're tied for 232nd in the nation with just over 15 turnovers per game (only slightly better than NJIT who turn it over 15.7 times per game).  In that sense, they're a lot like South Carolina it would appear: get turnovers often, but turn it over often.

Boston College doesn't cough up the ball as much, turning it over 12.2 times per year, and still sits at 6th in rebounding margin. In their last game, a 10-point BC loss last February, the rebounding was close, and the score was close for a while, but Oglesby did them in. Now, he and two other of Clemson's starters from that game are gone, so we'll see some new guys in the starting lineup, such as David Potter, Jerai Grant, and Tanner Smith. Of note, and I didn't notice this last year, but in BC's last game against the Tigers, Clemson only got 5 points off the bench the whole game, with Rivers, Sykes, and Oglesby (the three departed starters) accounting for 50 of Clemson's 87 points. Their replacements haven't played as well this season; they're not bad, but not putting up the same numbers.

Clemson has had BC's number recently. BC has not beaten Clemson since the 2006-2007 season, and haven't won at Clemson ever to my knowledge. This is a good time to break both trends.

From game to game, we never know which BC team will show up. In fact, from half to half, we don't know. Clemson is a good team, but not a great team, while BC has the potential to be a good team but sees fit to play up or down to their competition. If that is truly the case, then good BC will show up tomorrow. They will hopefully be able to feed off of the electricity in the crowd and do a better job down in Clemson than the football team did earlier this academic year. Recall that this is a Clemson team that blew a 23-point lead to Illinois in the Challenge; BC has blown big leads in a number of games, but eventually won them all.

This is a winnable game for BC, but they will have to play 40 minutes of hard basketball -- not 30 (Michigan game) or 15 (Maine game) -- the whole game. Clemson is not so far ahead of BC that it's eye-popping, nor is Clemson as good as they were last year. The Eagles do have a shot, and hopefully, they'll play like they're aware of that.

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