The last time the Boston College Eagles men’s basketball team played a game against a conference foe, it was the North Carolina State Wolfpack in the 2012 ACC Tournament. Scott Wood was making shots from the parking lot against a young, tired, and ineffective Eagle perimeter defense and two opposing players had double-digit rebounding totals as BC’s season was washed away. In the first conference contest of 2013, it is these same two teams meeting, but are they the same as before?
Boston College faced the Wolfpack three times in the 9-22 rebuilding season and lost all of them. Of course, that NC State team would get onto the bubble, get hot, and make it to the Sweet 16 before starting this season ranked in the Top 10. Now, they’re merely #23, but there is no question that BC’s opponents on Saturday are a very good team.
NC State is an athletic bunch with great shooters. Scott Wood is shooting a very respectable 43.4% from beyond the arc and CJ Leslie is one player that everyone is going to watch. He scored in double-figures against the Eagles all three times last year and there’s little that might prevent him from doing so again, that is to say unless BC has made the strides it thinks it has.
Last year’s Eagles did not even make it to ten wins, falling flat throughout much of ACC play and giving away several games that they could have or should have won. One of those was the home game against the Wolfpack in which BC and NC State were tied late in the contest. That team could not close out and fight back, but lately, the Eagles have shown something a bit closer to perseverance than in their collective freshman year. Some new talent has helped, as has a greater consistency in play (even if it’s only a recent development against low-major teams).
Boston College goes into this game on a five-game win streak, the longest that the nucleus of this team has experienced yet. NC State is hotter, now having won seven games in a row to get to 11-2. The Eagles barely experienced any win streaks at all last season, and very few games in which they played well. Now, they have a bit more reliability as they approach the conference season, while NC State is still its very good self. They have not changed very much since the last time BC saw them, but BC has grown, even if only slightly.
This will be a difficult game for the Eagles to win, as NC State’s talent and hot shooting are hard for plenty of teams to handle. If there are some saving graces, it’s that BC is 7-2 at home already (the Eagles won only eight home games all last season) and that the closest contest BC gave NC State last year was at Conte Forum. It probably would not be reasonable to expect that Boston College will win this time, but there should be an expectation that they’ll at least keep the game close and compete. There’s no shame in losing to a ranked team, especially when the core of yours is still learning, but BC historically plays decently against the Wolfpack at home.
If BC wants to put a real shock into the college basketball world, starting off ACC play with a home win would be a good way to do it.