As per longstanding tradition, the NC State basketball team is making things as hard on itself as possible, and that means that it will need to win at Boston College on Saturday afternoon just to salvage a .500 league record—and stay in somewhat okayish NCAA tournament position.
A loss tomorrow wouldn’t necessarily be the end of its NCAA hopes, but it would be a pretty bad idea to make the situation more precarious than it already is. But this is very much a loseable game, and we don’t have to look at the first meeting between these two in order to know that much.
Boston College took NC State to overtime in Raleigh earlier this month, rallying from a 14-point second half deficit to do so. NC State trailed with as little as 1:20 remaining but took control in the extra period, outscoring the Eagles 16-7 to secure the win.
NC State did not have a strong defensive effort in that contest, not only enabling BC to shoot well but also allowing the Eagles to grab a lot of their missed shots. BC didn’t even need an exceptional performance from Ky Bowman to nearly pull the upset.
Looking at it from the bright side, we could say that BC played a flukishly well—the Eagles were markedly better in the paint and on the boards than they have been all season. This is not a good offensive rebounding team, but it was that night. It’s not a good interior scoring team, but it was that night. Surely we will see some reversion back to their more substandard practices in those areas. Surely.
State, to its credit, forced Boston College to turn the ball over 24% of the time in that first meeting. State was also outstanding on the offensive glass, collecting 17 offensive boards. And the Wolfpack, for once, had a considerable edge at the free throw line, finishing 22-26. State outscored BC by 13 points at the stripe.
The Pack probably won’t be so fortunate at the line this time around, especially on the road, but another successful day on the offensive glass is plenty possible. Boston College ranks 13th in defensive rebounding percentage in league play, which is a big reason why its defense has been so poor in general.
But I’m not gonna pretend like I have a clue about what’s going to unfold, not after this week, not after the various other perplexing efforts we’ve seen this season. Let’s just hope for the best.