On Thursday night at the Comcast Center, the Boston College Eagles (8-17) will take on the Maryland Terrapins (14-10) and face Mark Turgeon for the first time since his move. Of course, the Eagles saw him before when he was the coach at Texas A&M last season, and BC beat them in the Old Spice Classic on Thanksgiving Day 2010. He and his new club are hoping to have better results on their home court against a much different Boston College team.
The Eagles have lost seven out of their last eight games and (ostensibly) will not see Patrick Heckmann again for weeks, but one notable thing about how much this team has improved is that of their last three losses, all conference games, they were by five points or less. BC fell by five at home to NC State, then lost to Georgia Tech by four on the road, and finally to Virginia Tech on the road by one in a game they should have won. In the middle of those was a huge win over then-#17 Florida State by four. What observers have seen is an Eagles team that’s gotten much more competitive and, though the win column doesn’t necessarily show it, is holding its own in this league.
Now, with that said, one of the last objectives they need to achieve this season is breaking through for a road win. They have come close on a number of occasions and were mere seconds away from getting one on Sunday against the Hokies. BC has already gotten the conference win and the win over a ranked team; winning outside of Conte Forum for their fourth ACC victory would surely signal to the college basketball world that BC is right on schedule.
Will they get it in Maryland? It will be difficult, as all away games tend to be. The Terps aren’t exactly lighting the world on fire this year, but they do have a winning record. Maryland does not have the resume of an NCAA Tournament team, though they are 11-3 in their building this year. It is a little more of a sign of respect, then, that Boston College are just nine-point underdogs. Virtually the entire season, even against lousy teams, BC have been double-digit underdogs on the road, but this time, against a 14-win team, they are getting only 9 points. Perhaps the bookies are starting to figure out that the Eagles are playing much closer games now.
The Terps’ leading scorer is Terrell Stoglin, averaging a blistering 21.6 points per game. If he were on BC, he’d be the leading scorer by a margin of 11.2 points — almost the same as on his own team. The Eagles have caught a break with the unfortunate injury last week to sophomore starting point guard Pe’Shon Howard, who gave the Terps about 33 decent minutes per game. Even so, Maryland has a much more prolific scorer than anyone the Eagles have and they’re quite a bit better at rebounding.
This game feels like it may be another close loss where BC competes and has little to show for it but a moral victory, but one of these days, the Eagles are going to break through on the road. Will it be tonight? Find out at 9pm on ESPN3/TV38.