clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

NC State hopes to keep rolling against struggling Boston College

New, 30 comments

The Eagles aren’t any good ... not that it means the game Sunday will be easy.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: MAR 07 ACC Tournament - Wake Forest v Boston College Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Boston College under Jim Christian is consistent in its ability to twirl around in place, occasionally drawing notice for this novelty, but more often making a lot of people nauseous. The Eagles have had some good players and managed some big upsets, but none of it has amounted to anything.

Which is the story of Boston College basketball since the program fired Al Skinner: the Eagles haven’t been in the NCAAs since 2009 (Skinner’s next-to-last season) and that drought will extend to 11 years in 2020.

Christian is in his sixth season and has at no point shown any indication that he can build a respectable program or generate excitement within the program, and yet he perseveres, apparently unnoticed, as a freeloader collecting large paychecks. Good gig if you can get it.

This BC group ranks 161st in the Pomeroy Ratings, which is 34 spots below where the team finished 2019, and will be the fifth Jim Christian team to finish below 100. There is no signature quality to his program—unless losing a lot qualifies—and never has been, which makes his longevity all the more confusing. Not that I am complaining about it, mind you.

Boston College Offense

2020 Eagles Off_Eff (rk) eFG% TO% OR% FTR
2020 Eagles Off_Eff (rk) eFG% TO% OR% FTR
Offense 98.4 (243) 46.1 (317) 19.6 (219) 25.0 (277) 31.2 (213)

The Eagles’ offense ranks dead last in league play, and yet because the ACC is dumb as shit this year, the Eagles nonetheless boast road wins at Syracuse, Virginia Tech, and UNC. That’s not the kind of road success you would expect from a team this bad, but again, nothing makes sense this year and generally it’s a bad idea to think too long about any of it.

The offense has declined in all four factors from 2019, and most notably rates among the bottom 50 in shooting. The Eagles take a lot of threes despite shooting under 30% from outside, and they also happen to be one of the worst free throw shooting teams in the country: 65.5% overall, and 62.2% in ACC games.

I’d suggest that BC throw the kitchen sink at the offensive glass, but there are rules against such tactics.

Starters

Derryck Thornton (6’3, 195) — Thornton began his career at Duke, where he wasn’t any good, then moved on to USC, where he wasn’t any good, and finally landed at BC, where he also has not been any good. He’s a career 28.6% three-point shooter and has hit less than a quarter of his tries this year. Not that this has stopped him from assuming the lead role on offense, usually to disastrous effect.

Jay Heath (6’3, 175) — He’s the team’s best outside shooter at 37.5% and also leads the Eagles in three-point attempts, so they at least got that part right. He’s had an encouraging freshman year from that perspective, and should be a solid secondary contributor in the years to come.

CJ Felder (6’7, 230) — Felder is another freshman the Eagles have had to rely on a lot this season, and his overall line wouldn’t look so bad if he’d just cut out the threes (5-30 on the year) entirely. Go work on that range in the offseason, young fella, and let’s revisit this whole shooting threes thing next winter. He’s decent on the defensive glass, will block a shot here and there, and has made about 48% of his twos.

Jairus Hamilton (6’8, 234) — Hitting 54% of his twos, including 56% against ACC foes, which is good. Also shooting 26.8% from three, including 11-51 shooting in ACC games, which is bad. Maybe there’s a team-wide learning disability at work here.

Steffon Mitchell (6’8, 220) — Ah yes, Steffon Mitchell, our nemesis for some reason. Mitchell has played four games against NC State and has had at least five offensive rebounds in every single contest. The dude is a good offensive rebounder, but come on, man! Can we get a body on him? Guy’s killin’ us. He’s an underrated talent, though, mostly because he’s an infrequent shot attempterer. He does a lot of the secondary stuff (rebounding, defending, drawing fouls) well and there’s a lot of value in that.

Bench

Jared Hamilton (6’4, 203), Nik Popovic (6’11, 253), Julian Rishwain (6’5, 190), Kamari Williams (6’7, 200). The Eagles have had their share of injury problems, and losing Popovic for nine games early in the year was a significant loss. He’s a potential difference-maker in the paint, and he’s proven in the past he can handle a high workload, which is more than most of the guys on the team can say.

Hamilton has been wildly inconsistent (and banged up) but is good enough to provide 10+ points on any given night. He’s attempted more threes in 2020 (53) than he did in his three previous seasons combined (51), with mixed results (32.1% on the year).

Boston College Defense

2020 Eagles Def_Eff (rk) eFG% TO% OR% FTR
2020 Eagles Def_Eff (rk) eFG% TO% OR% FTR
Defense 97.9 (96) 49.4 (175) 21.7 (43) 31.0 (297) 29.9 (125)

BC ranks 13th at this end in league play, 12th in eFG% defense and 13th in defensive rebounding. There’s not much success to be had with those things working against you, and while the Eagles have done well to create turnovers via steals, they’ve been below average in just about every other respect.

The Pomeroy Predictor likes NC State by five.