Boston College men’s basketball faced the Miami Hurricanes earlier this season and could have ended their long ACC win streak before it reached epic proportions.
Unfortunately for BC, who hosted that particular game on January 16 at Conte Forum, the Hurricanes escaped after a missed free throw at the end of regulation. Now, Miami has risen into the top ten of the AP Top 25 and will host the Eagles as they look to go a shocking 9-0 in the ACC.
It is entirely possible that the Hurricanes will be the ACC’s regular season champions, though there is still a long way (ten games to be precise) to go. As of now, Miami holds a two-game lead over Duke, whom they crushed head-to-head on January 23 while the Blue Devils were #1. That we’re even talking about Miami in such a way speaks very well of Jim Larranaga and what he has been able to do with this team in such a short time. An NIT team last year, nobody thought the Hurricanes would find themselves surging into the top ten and certainly nobody counted on them slaying the rest of the ACC to grab a firm grip on first place. Miami was picked fifth in the conference this year, but they’ve so far dramatically exceeded expectations.
As for the visiting Boston College Eagles, a team with some highs and lows, this game will be a tall order. The road has not been kind to BC as they have only won two games outside Conte Forum all season, and now, this Miami team they faced last month is now the #8 team in the nation. Boston College hung with them all 40 minutes in their first meeting, but there is one key difference, aside from this being a road game: Reggie Johnson is back. Miami’s star center missed the January game, but will be around for this one tonight.
To win, the Eagles will need production from the two freshman guards, Olivier Hanlan and Joe Rahon. Hanlan has been more-or-less consistent in how well he’s played this year, while Rahon has either been very good or totally invisible. BC needs both on the same high level tonight, while Lonnie Jackson will have to find his stroke from beyond the arc and Ryan Anderson must be aggressive on the boards and go up strongly enough from beneath the hoop.
An interesting component here for the Eagles is that Miami tonight will be the first time they’ve played a team twice this season. Will the familiarity the two opponents have with one another impact their play? It’s possible, as the coaches can make adjustments, but it will be noteworthy to see if the Eagles change their approach at all considering that they very nearly beat Miami the first time. Were BC able to face down the long odds this time, it would be a season-defining win for this young and inconsistent team.
Tip-off is at 7pm; the game will be televised in New England on NESN and nationally on ESPN3.