Virginia welcomes the Boston College Eagles to John Paul Jones Arena Wednesday night, their first game since dismantling then-No.16 Louisville on the road, 63-47. The win was far and away Virginia's most complete game and their best defensive performance all season. Coupled with North Carolina's loss to Louisville last night, the hope remains that Virginia could still three-peat as ACC regular season champions. To do that, however, Virginia (17-4, 6-3 ACC) needs to take care of business against their opponents, starting with the Eagles.
Note: All stats are for conference games only.
Boston College comes into the game with a 7-14 record, with no conference wins in eight tries. They are losing conference games by an average of 21 points with their closest game being a 10 point loss at home against FSU. As a team, the Eagles are shooting 38.8% from the field, 34.1% from three point land, and 64.8% from the charity stripe. According to KenPom, they turn the ball over on 23.3% of their possessions. They have 89 assists to 126 turnovers, with 72 of those turnovers resulting from steals. Their ball handling is suspect, so Virginia has the opportunity to get hands in the passing lanes to disrupt BC's offense.
BC is not only last in the ACC in offensive efficiency by a wide margin (averaging .82 PPP, far below 14th place Wake Forest's .98 PPP), but they are the worst in each of the "four factors" of shooting, turnovers, rebounding, and getting to the free-throw line too. And it's not even close. Overall, BC's offense ranks 338th in the nation; they're the second worst offense that the Hoos have to face. (Bradley is dead last, but managed their 5th best offensive output of the season against UVA). Defensively, the Eagles are particularly vulnerable inside, letting their opponents shoot 57.1% from two.
The Eagles are led by graduate transfer Eli Carter, who has 17.4 points per game (ppg) and is shooting 39.4% from the field (35.9% from three). Carter, who transferred to BC from Florida, has 30 assists, but 31 turnovers. He shoots a team best 84.2% from the free throw line. As if BC wasn't having enough trouble, they lost their second leading scorer, Jerome Robinson (10.4 ppg) due to a fractured wrist. No other player for the Eagles is averaging more than eight points.
Senior center Dennis Clifford averages 7.1ppg and a team best 5.6 rebounds per game (rpg). Junior forward Garland Owens contributes 4.8 ppg, 3.9 rpg, and shoots 40% from the field and has an impressive 83.3% FT percentage. Freshmen AJ Turner (5.0 ppg, 3.6 rpg) and Sammy Barnes-Thompkins (4.0 ppg, 6-of-10 3PT) round out the probable starting five for the Eagles. Coming off the bench, Matt Milon has been averaging just over 13 minutes per game and can provide some distance shooting for BC, having made 9-of-17 (52.9%) from three. Sophomore guard Darryl Hicks plays around 17 minutes per game and averages 4.1 ppg on 40% shooting from the field. Ervins Meznieks, a 6-7 big man from Latvia, averages 13 minutes per game, but isn't much of an offensive threat with a 6.7% field goal percentage.
On paper, the Hoos should have no issue with the Eagles, but as this season has shown several times, weird stuff happens. Anthony Gill, Isaiah Wilkins, and Mike Tobey will likely have room to work on the interior, and if Malcolm Brogdon and London Perrantes keep their solid shooting up, this should be a solid victory for the Hoos.
Game is at 7pm on ESPN3 and Regional Sports Nets.