Sports, Basketball, Men's Basketball

Previewing BC Men’s Basketball ACC Quarterfinal Against Notre Dame

One point determined the winner and loser of each of Boston College men’s basketball’s two meetings with Notre Dame, and the pendulum swung both ways. First, BC ended a 13-year losing streak to the team from South Bend on after barely escaping despite a late-game double-digit lead. But Notre Dame entered Conte Forum hungry for revenge, and the Irish escaped with a one-point comeback win on the Eagles’ home turf. 

And though Notre Dame (19-12, 10-10 Atlantic Coast) enters the ACC Tournament in Greensboro on Wednesday as a No. 7 seed and BC (13-18, 7-13 Atlantic Coast) sits at No. 10, it is March, after all, and it’s anyone’s game. 

If the teams’ only two matchups this year are any indication, BC and Notre Dame have been evenly squared up all year. But the narrow margins of victory resulted despite what the records say on paper—the Irish compiled both a winning record overall and three more wins in the ACC than the Eagles. 

But BC’s record comes at a higher cost. Ken Pomeroy’s rankings give BC the 49th-most challenging schedule in the country while the Irish faced the 77th-strongest schedule in the country. Though the teams took on the similar ACC opponents, BC faced non-conference foes like St. Louis, Belmont, and Northwestern, who all hovered around Pomeroy’s top 100 throughout the year. 

A key to BC’s success in the opening round will revolve around the Eagles’ ability to shut down recent ACC First-Team selection John Mooney. The 6-foot-9 forward was one of five to earn the ACC’s top honor at this point in the season. He notched 25 double-doubles in 30 games on the court. A testament to his versatility, Mooney averaged 12.8 rebounds per game—good for first in the nation—and 16.5 points per game this season. He was the only player in the NCAA to put up numbers like that, earning him the third-most votes in the nation for first-team selection. 

Against BC, Mooney was no different. In the Eagles’ win, he put up 16 points and a staggering 18 rebounds, good for second-best for the Irish in points and first in boards. Then, Mooney was the deciding factor in the Irish’s win in Chestnut Hill with a game-high 22 points and 12 rebounds. 

The only Eagle to get close to Mooney in that game was Steffon Mitchell with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Mitchell, who has been known to stuff the stat sheet for the Eagles all season, was also the only Eagle awarded All-ACC honors, earning the last spot in both the All-ACC Honorable Mention and All-Defensive teams. He earned eight votes for Defensive Player of the Year.

The Irish also earned the edge in adjusted offensive efficiency rating, a metric measured by points scored per 100 possessions. Notre Dame gets the edge with an OER of 110.9, good for 42nd in the country, while BC trails with 100.3, putting BC at the 219th spot in that same category. 

CBS Sports gives the Irish +3000 odds to win it all while BC has notably lower chances at +50000—the bottom of the barrel, tied with Pitt for last place in the oddsmakers’ projection.

Though it seems the numbers are stacked against BC, March has always been a notorious month for college basketball, and a Cinderella story is never completely out of the question. 

Featured Image by Ikram Ali / Heights Editor

March 11, 2020