Every so often, an ACC team outside of the traditional powers makes some noise during the season. In 2019-20, that team could be the Boston College Eagles.
Fans of the Boston College Eagles men’s basketball team know that cracking the upper echelon of the ACC is no easy feat.
The 15-team conference is led by the blue bloods of college basketball; programs like the Duke Blue Devils, North Carolina Tar Heels, Syracuse Orange and Louisville Cardinals. Then you have others that have been consistently good in the recent memory, like the defending champion Virginia Cavaliers, the Florida State Seminoles, and even the NC State Wolfpack.
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Is this the season Boston College (9-6, 3-1) can edge into the discussion and finally put an end to their NCAA tournament drought?
The Eagles haven’t been to the Big Dance since 2009, with the closest they came to sniffing an invite was back in 2017-18. The college basketball season has been a topsy-turvy one, with top teams losing and only two undefeated teams remaining.
All you need is a little faith, and, well, for the Eagles to play like they have been.
Boston College is a young team and a lot can still change. Only three seniors contribute valuable minutes and many expected this team to live near the bottom of the ACC.
An upset victory over Virginia gives hope that this team can ride the momentum. This victory was done without leading scorer Derryck Thornton and senior big man Nik Popovic, who has missed the last six games.
Still, the Eagles have won five of their last six, with a nearly 40-point loss to Duke the lone blemish. An alarming note, yes, but one that may have brought this team closer together.
Boston College Eagles: a closer look
As this young team adjusted, the non-conference schedule was completed with pretty understanding results. The Eagles won some good games (California) and lost some tough matchups (Richmond, Belmont).
And even looking at this team, there’s nothing that really stands out. They shoot only 40.9 percent from the field, they have a margin of nearly minus five in rebounding, and the Eagles average 14.7 turnovers.
But the Boston College Eagles are finding ways to win. Freshman Jay Heath is coming along nicely and leads the team with 26 made 3’s. Heath is also second on the team in scoring behind Thornton, averaging 12.4 per game
Thornton, a graduate transfer, is delivering 13.3 ppg. His 48 assists lead the team.
The heartbeat of this team is junior Steffon Mitchell. Mitchell has been a contributor the last two seasons and is doing more than his fair share this season. He is pulling down 8.6 rebounds per game and chipping in 6.9 points. Mitchell is also an excellent passer, dishing out 45 assists.
Senior Jared Hamilton has come on as of late, averaging just over 13 points per games the last four games.
Before missing the last six games with a sore back, Popovic was averaging 11.8 points and 5.9 rebounds per game.
If Popovic returns to the lineup and Thornton recovers quickly from an ankle injury, the Eagles have a chance to make some noise this season. Their next five games are against teams currently lower in the ACC standings.
A 5-0 run might be asking for too much, too soon. But if they can pull that off, Boston College would be taking a lot of confidence into a January 29 game with Louisville.
It’s a long January, of course, and fortune can change in college basketball with one whistle or one snapping of the net. But it’s still okay to dream and, since Boston College is currently tied for second in the ACC, we might as well cherish this moment.
And only hope it continues to grow.