There are few teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference that Boston College Eagles basketball has more trouble with than the Duke Blue Devils. Since joining the conference in 2005, BC has beaten Duke precisely once (in February 2009), though there were arguably two games in that inaugural season that the Eagles probably should have won. Nevertheless, if BC intends to double their win total against the Blue Devils, they’ll have to drop the #4 team in the nation up in Massachusetts. They couldn’t do it last year, and this season’s first meeting looks equally difficult for the Eagles.
The last time BC met Duke on the hardwood, a little under one year ago, the Blue Devils coasted to a 25-point win over the Eagles. That Boston College team was legitimately young and learning; this one is almost through two full seasons since the start of a rebuild and doesn’t necessarily deserve that designation but is still coming along slowly. Entering this contest, Duke is a healthy double-digit favorite.
I know what you’re thinking: highly-ranked teams have a habit of losing lately. Even TCU, previously winless in the Big 12, knocked off a Top 5 team in Kansas. Why can’t BC pull this upset, you ask? Nobody is saying that they can’t, because no non-fixed sporting event is impossible to win, but it remains highly unlikely that the Eagles will finally put it all together against a team that is quite possibly going to be #1 on Monday.
Boston College has given some tough teams problems at Conte Forum this year, so it is not outside the realm of possibility that Duke will have to work hard if they intend to win. The issue for BC is that Duke is a bad matchup for them. The Eagles’ offense has had some clunkers in ACC play, while Duke is a very good offensive team, both in terms of scoring and shooting. With a suspect defense and some lack of aggressiveness on the boards, BC’s struggle will be in keeping up. Boston College has also had a great deal of inconsistency with which to contend; on any given night, there’s no telling who will show up to play.
To win, the Eagles would need to play by far their best game of the season to date. As of right now, their two ACC wins were against two of the worst teams in the conference, and though they had better teams like NC State and Miami on the ropes, the overplayed “moral victory” tune was heard after both. “We almost beat Miami” does not equal “we will beat Duke.” No two games are the same, anyway, and BC will have to fight hard just to stay in the mix late.
BC can make its season with a win, even if they already know they’re going nowhere. A loss would send them to a dismal 2-8 mark in the ACC; that would not surprise anyone, but it wouldn’t lift spirits, either.
Tipoff is at 6pm on ESPNU.