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NC State will have to pack the energy on its trip to Boston College

Don’t make me tap the sign, guys. (The sign says “BEWARE! Just, You Know, In General”.)

NCAA Basketball: Boston College at Virginia Tech Lee Luther Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

It’s time once more for the dreaded trip to Boston College. It’s a difficult trip because teams have to figure out how to bring their own energy: Boston College is never very good, and they play in front of about 200 people. (Okay, fine: 4800 people on average this year.) Throw in a noon tip time and you’ve got a recipe for a sleepwalk performance.

Virginia Tech and Clemson have been the most noteworthy victims so far (Duke nearly got clipped as well), and NC State really does not want to join that list.

None of this is to say that the outcome is a simple matter of bring-the-intensity-and-win: BC ain’t Louisville, and the Eagles have been playing better over the last few weeks. The Eagles are coming off a surprisingly easy win at Virginia Tech, putting them at a respectable 6-8 in ACC play.

Boston College, still doing the things and such

... OE/DE (rk) eFG% TO% OR% 2FG% 3FG%
... OE/DE (rk) eFG% TO% OR% 2FG% 3FG%
Offense 102.6 (223) 48.1 (288) 17.8 (124) 27.8 (213) 49.0 (234) 30.7 (322)
Defense 102.4 (118) 52.0 (263) 19.3 (127) 28.4 (174) 49.8 (163) 36.8 (323)

The performance in Blacksburg was a huge outlier for this BC team, which typically gets little offense from the perimeter: they shot 12-24 from three.

You could call this BC team a throwback, I guess, though it’s more necessity than preference: they’re 319th in three-point attempt rate, and over 58% of their points have come inside the arc, which ranks 22nd. Despite not pressing the issue, the Eagles are still 322nd in 3FG%. Pretty much the definition of “team that has no shooting” right here.

The Eagles still present plenty of potential problems, however, and seven-footer Quinten Post is at the top of that list. Post (name’s a little on the nose if you ask me) would probably be getting All-ACC buzz if he hadn’t missed the first half of the season with an injury or if he played somewhere else: he’s averaging 16.5 PPG in the 12 games he’s played, all of them conference games, and he’s gone over 20 points in four of the last six games.

He’s shooting 60.8% inside the arc, 85.4% at the free throw line, and 41.7% from three (on 36 attempts). All of those are career-best marks. He’s managed that efficiency while taking 30% of BC’s shots while on the court, which is an enormous workload. Clearly the Eagles have surmised that the big fella needs a touch every time down.

And—(gesturing at the rest of the team)—that is definitely true.

Plenty of offense still runs through Makai Ashton-Langford (6’3, 180), who remains a streaky and important presence for the Eagles. He’s shooting under 30% from three on the season but has hit 34.5% in league play; he’s a good distributor and important defensive asset. Most of his offense comes inside the arc, and at this point in year six, he is what he is: a career 45.9% two-point shooter who is hitting, let’s see here, ... 45.9% of his twos this season.

His younger brother, DeMarr (6’5, 220), has missed three straight games with an injury, but as a secondary scorer and an inefficient one at that, his absence hasn’t been a detriment to the team’s success. Still, I’m sure Earl Grant would prefer to have another steady rotation piece available. (Which he could be on Saturday.)

Forward TJ Bickerstaff (6’9, 220) also can be a menace in the paint, because he’s a disruptive defender and a really good rebounder at both ends of the floor.

Defensively, BC’s strengths are disruption and avoiding fouls. In league games, the Eagles are top-five in both turnover rate and opponent free throw rate. Both are keys for them, since they don’t actually force a lot of missed shots in general, and they’re bad on the defensive glass.

KenPom likes NC State by seven.