Last Thursday, Boston College men’s basketball released its schedule for the upcoming 2018-19 season. After a year that erased most memories of a woeful 16-48 combined record from the previous two seasons, Jim Christian’s Eagles enter the upcoming season with a wealth of confidence. Gone is NBA first-round draft pick Jerome Robinson, but the bulk of a roster that went 19-16, won two of three in the ACC Tournament, and earned a No. 5 seed in the NIT is still around.
With Ky Bowman back to lead the offense, an ESPN Top-100 recruit in Jairus Hamilton arriving, and plenty of familiar faces, such as Steffon Mitchell and Jordan Chatman, returning, BC will face increased expectations. A tough schedule is inevitable in the ACC, but if the Eagles are aiming to return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in years, they’ve got the chance to do so on the strength of some marquee non-conference wins.
Nov. 6 vs. Milwaukee (Chestnut Hill, Mass.) *Home Opener
→ The season begins in the friendly confines of Conte Forum against a less-than-tough opponent in the Horizon League’s Panthers. Pat Baldwin’s first year as their head coach was a step up from a 24-loss season the year prior, but they still finished under .500.
Nov. 11 vs. St. Francis College-Brooklyn (Chestnut Hill, Mass.)
Nov. 14 vs. IUPUI (Chestnut Hill, Mass.)
Nov. 19 at Wyoming (Fort Myers, Fla.) *Fort Myers Tip Off
→ The first game of the Fort Myers Tip Off, a four-team mini tournament, is against an up-tempo Cowboys team that preached the “15 seconds or less” offense last year. Finishing 13th in tempo with the eighth-lowest average possession time, Wyoming spread the ball around well. This year might be a tough one for head coach Allen Edwards, who has strung together back-to-back 20-plus win seasons, as he’s tasked with replacing three starters.
Nov. 21 vs. Richmond/Loyola-Chicago (Fort Myers, Fla.) *Fort Myers Tip Off
→ The second game will be either against a Spiders team that took BC to overtime last year before eventually falling or a group of Ramblers that captured the nation’s attention when it made a run to the Final Four as an 11-seed. Either matchup should be exciting, as the former has had two 20-win seasons in the last four years, while the latter boasted top-30 ranks in defense and 3-point shooting in 2017.
Nov. 26 vs. Minnesota (Chestnut Hill, Mass.) *ACC/B1G Challenge
Nov. 29 vs. Sacred Heart (Chestnut Hill, Mass.)
Dec. 4 vs. Providence (Chestnut Hill, Mass.)
→ The Eagles will have a chip on their shoulder for this game, and rightfully so. The Friars, en route to the NCAA Tournament as a 10-seed, hosted BC and routed them by 20 points last season. The top three players for Providence in that game have since graduated, but the program has won 20-plus games in each of the last five seasons under Ed Cooley, so it’ll be a big non-conference matchup.
Dec. 8 at Texas A&M (College Station, Texas)
→ The pivotal non-conference games continue with a road game against the Aggies, a team that made a push to the Sweet 16 last year, knocking off the Friars and North Carolina in the process. Powerful big man Robert Williams is off to the NBA, but Texas A&M will still be a tough matchup in terms of size down low. The Aggies had the 14th-best defense a season ago and have posted top-10 block rates each of the last two years, while the duo of guards T.J. Starks and Admon Gilder will be a handful on the other side of the court.
Dec. 12 vs. Columbia (Chestnut Hill, Mass.)
Dec. 16 vs. Fairfield (Chestnut Hill, Mass.)
Dec. 22 at DePaul (Chicago, Ill.)
Dec. 31 vs. Hartford (Chestnut Hill, Mass.)
Jan. 5 at Virginia Tech (Blacksburg, Va.) *ACC Opener
→ The conference slate is always tough, but the opener is particularly difficult with a road tilt against the Hokies. VTech only lasted a game in both the conference and NCAA tournaments, but showed plenty of flashes of potential with in-season wins over North Carolina, Virginia, and Duke. With three of the top four scorers returning from last year’s team that beat BC in overtime, the Hokies are surely a difficult draw.
Jan. 9 vs. Virginia (Chestnut Hill, Mass.) *ACC Home Opener
→ As a harsh reminder of the difficulties of the conference schedule, the Eagles open up home ACC play with a team that spent much of last season as the No. 1 team in the country. Granted, the Cavaliers had a historic letdown, becoming the first No. 1 seed to ever fall to a No. 16 in the NCAA Tournament, but they still won the conference tournament and dropped a lone ACC game throughout the entire season. A bulk of the roster returns, and the pain of last year could prompt a comeback year from Tony Bennett’s squad. One thing’s for sure—points will be tough to come by. The Cavaliers have boasted a top-10 defense in six of the last seven years.
Jan. 12 at Notre Dame (South Bend, Ind.)
Jan. 16 at Louisville (Louisville, Ky.)
Jan. 20 vs. Florida State (Chestnut Hill, Mass.)
Jan. 26 at Wake Forest (Winston-Salem, N.C.)
Jan. 30 vs. Syracuse (Chestnut Hill, Mass.)
Feb. 2 vs. Notre Dame (Chestnut Hill, Mass.)
→ Conte Forum should be packed for the second meeting between these two teams on the season, as there’s something exciting about the so-called “Holy War,” whether it’s on the gridiron or the basketball court. The Irish won both games between the two last year, withstanding a career performance from Jerome Robinson at home and then rolling behind Matt Farrell’s white-hot night on the road. Notre Dame has a top-10 recruiting class, a group that softens the blow that is the departure of Farrell and Bonzie Colson. Still, it’ll be a very new-look group that takes on the Eagles in 2018.
Feb. 5 at Duke (Durham, N.C.)
→ The statement game of last season was undoubtedly the upset of then-No. 1 Duke in Chestnut Hill, putting BC on the national radar for the first time in several years. You can rest assured that Mike Krzyzewski hasn’t forgotten about it. The Blue Devils will somehow be a tougher out this year, touting the No. 1 recruiting class by a healthy margin. Thought containing Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter Jr. was tough? Get a load of four five-star recruits that include the R.J. Barrett and Zion Williamson, the top two players in the Class of 2018.
Feb. 9 at Syracuse (Syracuse, N.Y.)
Feb. 12 vs. Pittsburgh (Chestnut Hill, Mass.)
Feb. 17 vs. Miami (Chestnut Hill, Mass.)
→ Last year, three points separated these two teams in a pair of games they split. The Eagles blew a 14-point lead and lost on what was essentially a Lonnie Walker IV buzzer-beater in the game in Miami. When BC hosted, it was a similar story, as it took a 9-0 run at the end of regulation to finish off the victory. Expect similar fireworks this year.
Feb. 20 at North Carolina State (Raleigh, N.C.)
Feb. 23 at Clemson (Clemson, S.C.)
→ The team that ended BC’s surprising run through the ACC Tournament is the second-to-last road game of the regular season. The Tigers played spoiler to the Eagles’ three-game sprint in Brooklyn, beating them by eight points in the quarterfinals. It was a game that only further exploited BC’s troubles with perimeter defense, as well as the problems with the usual stalwarts going cold from beyond the arc. Clemson will pose a tough threat as it returns three of its top five scorers and should once again post a top-10 defense.
Feb. 27 vs. Louisville (Chestnut Hill, Mass.)
March 3 at Georgia Tech (Atlanta, Ga.)
→ The final road trip of the season is to Atlanta, where the Eagles will square off against a Yellow Jackets team that they beat twice last year—both in the regular season and the conference tournament. GT’s 13-19 campaign doesn’t bode well for this coming season, especially with the departure of leading scorer Josh Okogie. The Yellow Jackets were a woeful 197th in offensive efficiency, and that was even with a first-round pick in Okogie trying his best to drive the team as a freshman.
March 5 vs. North Carolina (Chestnut Hill, Mass.)
→ Last year, it was Duke that BC stunned. This year, it could be North Carolina. The Tar Heels return a talented crop of players, including Luke Maye—which should provoke a groan in fans of the Eagles. Maye torched BC last year in a 30-point win for UNC, posting a double-double with 32 points and 18 rebounds. The past few meetings haven’t been particularly close, as the Eagles haven’t beat them since 2009-10 and have lost by an average of 16 points in those 11 consecutive defeats.
March 9 vs. N.C. State (Chestnut Hill, Mass.) *Regular Season Finale
Featured Image by Julianna Glafkides