Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Boston College Basketball: Make-or-Break December?


It is probably fair to say that as the Boston College Eagles prepare for the ACC-Big Ten Challenge tonight, they are in great need of a victory over the Purdue Boilermakers.

Yet, here’s the problem: it’s not just one decent win they need. It’s a bunch of them.

Steve Donahue’s Eagles enter their first December contest at 3-4, having started the season 0-3 but fighting back to win three of their last four games. Have they looked good in most of them, no, but if they were anything worse than 3-4 right now, they might already be finished as far as an at-large bid is concerned.

There are 24 games left to come, plus however long they hang around the ACC Tournament in March, but one thing is clear: their resume is fairly thin right now. Another thing is also certain, being that the Eagles will be afforded a number of opportunities from here on in to add quality wins.

Still, it is probable that if the Eagles have a bad month of December and close out non-conference play with a poor overall record, well, it wouldn’t be too smart to pencil the Eagles in for a top-four ACC spot, would it?

Here’s a look at what’s to come for Boston College this month:

• Tonight: at Purdue
• Dec. 8: at USC
• Dec. 12: vs. Maryland (ACC)
• Dec. 15: vs. Philadelphia Univ.
• Dec. 22: at Auburn
• Dec. 28: vs. VCU (neutral)

On January 1, 2014, Boston College plays its final non-conference game at Harvard, which is far from a sure win after what has transpired during the last five years.

Right now, the only game in that group which you can say is a highly likely Eagles win is Philadelphia. That brings Boston College to 4-4. What if the Eagles lose the rest? They probably won’t, but given only two games at home (and one of them is against a decent ACC team), it’s not out of the question. If Boston College rolls into Cambridge on New Year’s Day at 4-9 (0-1), they are done. Completely, thoroughly done and there’s no sense in arguing otherwise. Boston College would have to go something like 13-4 or 14-3 for the remainder of ACC play (and maybe beat Harvard too while they’re at it) just to get themselves back into the discussion. It stands to reason that if they go 4-9 outside the ACC, they are not winning 13 or 14 conference games.

So, what would be an acceptable record heading into the new year? We’ve already established that 4-9 would not be. 5-8 likewise would not be, even if the Eagles beat the best team (probably VCU) in addition to Philadelphia. Remember, if you’re doing this math, remember that you probably want to get to about 18 or 19 wins by ACC Tournament time, so subtract the number of wins they have after January 1, including the Harvard game, from 18 to come up with how many ACC games they’ll likely have to win.

What about 6-7? It probably depends on who they beat, but 12 ACC wins, still probably asking too much. One would have to think that Boston College would need to come out of December with a winning record to at least give themselves a realistic chance. To get to 7-6, you’re giving the Eagles a win over Philadelphia, but then they have to find three others out of the remaining five. It’s not impossible, but it will not be easy given that at least two will be in other venues.

Make no mistake, if the Eagles don’t have a solid December, they’re going to be in big trouble. This is the month they must turn things around and sustain some momentum heading into conference play.

Tags: Basketball Boston College Eagles Steve Donahue