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Notre Dame Men’s Basketball: Boston College Eagles Preview

Will Mike Brey’s squad finally get an ACC win tomorrow against the struggling Boston College Eagles?

NCAA Basketball: Virginia at Boston College Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish men’s basketball team will be back at it again tomorrow, hosting the Boston College Eagles in a battle of teams with nearly identical records after the 10-point loss the Irish incurred at the hands of the Syracuse Orange last Saturday.

Notre Dame enters the game at 10-5 overall and 0-2 in ACC play, while the Eagles are currently sporting a 9-5 record and an identical 0-2 ACC start. Translation: one of these teams HAS to win an ACC game tomorrow.

So, on a day when Notre Dame men’s hoops legend Bob Whitmore will be inducted into the Purcell Pavilion Ring of Honor at halftime, how will the Irish perform against BC? Let’s dive into the details and see what might happen.

Quick Facts

  • Notre Dame and Boston College will be meeting for the 32nd time tomorrow, with the Irish leading the all-time series 21-10. ND has won all 10 matchups against the Eagles as ACC opponents and the last 11 meetings overall (per Alan Wasielewski, Associate Athletics Communication Director)
  • Notre Dame’s 11-game run against the Eagles is tied for the 10th-longest against current Division I opponents in school history
  • Junior guard T.J. Gibbs ranks second in the ACC for assist/turnover ratio (3.41), joining freshman backcourt mate Prentiss Hubb (6th in the ACC with 2.17) in the top 10 (per Alan Wasielewski)
  • Junior Juwan Durham leads the ACC in blocked shots per game with a 3.29 average (46 total in 14 games played). Entering the weekend, he is third in the NCAA for blocks per game (per Alan Wasielewski)
  • Junior John Mooney leads the ACC in double-doubles (7) this season and paces the ACC in 10-rebound performances with nine so far in 2018-2019 (per Alan Wasielewski)
  • With a 9.4 average, Notre Dame ranks fourth in the country in turnovers per game, trailing only the Virginia Cavaliers, St. Joseph’s Hawks, Wisconsin Badgers and Michigan Wolverines (per Alan Wasielewski)
  • Notre Dame, on average, is committing just 13.3 personal fouls per game, which is tied with the Furman Paladins for the NCAA lead (per Alan Wasielewski)
  • The Irish rank second in the ACC in three-point field goals made per game, averaging 9.27 per contest. Notre Dame has connected on nine or more threes in a game in 8 of 14 contests this season (per Alan Wasielewski)
  • Bob Whitmore (1965-69) will enter the Purcell Pavilion Ring of Honor tomorrow as the eighth former Notre Dame men’s basketball player or coach added to the Ring. The Irish have won all seven previous games in which an induction has been held (per Alan Wasielewski)

Bob Whitmore Fun Facts

  • Whitmore compiled 47 double-doubles in his career at Notre Dame, which is the third-most in school history (per Alan Wasielewski)
  • Whitmore led the DeMatha Catholic Stags, coached by Morgan Wootten (who will be in attendance at Saturday’s game) to a 46-43 victory over Power Memorial (New York) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on January 30, 1965, ending Memorial’s 71-game win streak. This is known as one of the greatest high school games ever played (per Alan Wasielewski)
  • That DeMatha team boasted senior Whitmore, junior Sid Catlett, and sophomore Collis Jones. Whitmore left DeMatha for Notre Dame having posted a 55-3 record in his final two years there (per Alan Wasielewski)
  • The Washington, D.C., metropolitan complex has sent 15 players to Notre Dame who have compiled over 17,800 points, 6,800 rebounds and 2,200 assists since Whitmore came to campus in 1965. Austin Carr, Adrian Dantley, Collis Jones, Sid Catlett and Don Williams — all of whom are Notre Dame legends and dominate the Irish record books — possibly would not have even donned a blue and gold uniform without the trail that Whitmore blazed over three seasons from 1966 through 1969 (per Alan Wasielewski)
  • Whitmore finished with 1,508 career points in three full seasons (freshmen were ineligible under NCAA rules at that time), which ranked third all-time at Notre Dame when he graduated (per Alan Wasielewski)
  • Whitmore’s rebounding prowess was even more notable, as he hauled in over 1,043 boards to rank second at Notre Dame upon graduation. He is still one of only six players to collect over 1,000 rebounds in a career at Notre Dame (per Alan Wasielewski)
  • Whitmore’s other statistical superlatives include a 43-point outburst against Butler in 1967, six 20-point, 20-rebound performances (still the most ever for an Irish player), and a still-standing school-record 30 rebounds against St. Norbert’s on Dec. 14, 1967. Whitmore also compiled 47 career double-doubles, which is third historically at Notre Dame (per Alan Wasielewski)
  • Whitmore helped the Irish win 54 games over three seasons, advance to the semifinals of the National Invitational Tournament in 1968, and earn an NCAA tournament berth in 1969 (per Alan Wasielewski)
  • He was drafted by both the NBA and ABA and eventually returned to Notre Dame as a graduate assistant in 1973-74 to serve as a mentor for future Hall of Famer and fellow Notre Dame Ring of Honor inductee Adrian Dantley (per Alan Wasielewski)

Where: Purcell Pavilion — Notre Dame, Indiana

When: Saturday, January 12th at 12:00 PM ET

How to Watch:

Boston College Eagles (9-5, 0-2 ACC)

The Boston College Eagles have had a bumpy beginning to the 2018-2019 season, and it’s hard to blame them after the departure of All-ACC guard Jerome Robinson meant losing 20.7 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 41% shooting from long range.

NCAA Basketball: ACC Conference Tournament-NC State vs Boston College Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

BC has managed to lose to Hartford Hawks and IUPUI Jaguars in the early stages of non-conference play this season, and were handed a rough early ACC slate with match-ups against two top-10 teams from Virginia, falling at the hands of the Virginia Tech Hokies and the Virginia Cavaliers in the past week or so.

However, it hasn’t all been terrible for the Eagles, as they managed to defeat defending Final Four team Loyola-Chicago Ramblers and also the Minnesota Golden Gophers, with the BC roster showing that despite the inconsistent beginning to the season, there’s some talent there.

Coach Jim Christian’s most talented guy and biggest weapon is certainly junior guard Ky Bowman, a guy whom will be recognized by any hardcore ND fan as that pesky kid who had dyed-red hair who was always a pain in the ass and knocking down shots the past couple years.

Bowman stepped into the lead role once Robinson left, and is averaging 20 points, 7.4 rebounds (as a 6’1” guard!!!!), 3.5 assists, 1.6 steals, 0.8 blocks, and 35% shooting from three point range. This team generally goes as he goes, and T.J. Gibbs and Prentiss Hubb will have their hands full trying to shut him down — the dude is now an experienced veteran who knows how to score and how to carry the team.

Aside from Bowman, there are a couple other guards to watch out for on the Eagles. True freshman Wynston Tabbs has stepped into the lineup and seized the #2 scorer spot, dropping in 14.2 points per game and accompanying that production with 4.1 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and just over one steal per game. He’s been key in helping Bowman pick up the perimeter scoring slack when Robinson left.

Senior Jordan Chatman is another guy who can score a little bit, as the 6’5” senior wing averages 12.5 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 2.1 assists as a key leader for Jim Christian. He’s the only senior who sees significant minutes on this team.

NCAA Basketball: Boston College at Virginia Tech Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports

Another face many of you will recognize is junior forward Nik Popovic, whose 6’11” presence is perpetually felt in the paint. He’s cranked up his game another notch this year, scoring 13.7 points per game while grabbing 7 rebounds and swatting 1.1 shots per contest as well. He, 6’8” true freshman Jairus Hamilton (6.4 ppg, 5.2 rpg), and 6’8” sophomore forward Steffon Mitchell (5.2 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 2 apg, 1.5 spg, 0.7 bpg) are the names to know inside for Boston College.

Watching Popovic square off against Juwan Durham should be particularly fun, as two junior big men with lots of height and shot-blocking ability is sure to give us some fun plays at the hoop.

NCAA Basketball: ACC Conference Tournament-Clemson vs Boston College Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

Throw in freshman guard Chris Herren Jr. as a threat from deep (only 5.2 ppg, but he shoots 38% from long range) and 6’4” junior guard Jared Hamilton as another minor contributor, and the Eagles won’t exactly be a pushover for the struggling Irish.

However, considering the Eagles shoot just 30% from deep and will be on the road, I like the Irish’s chances if Gibbs and Hubb are able to slow Bowman down, if John Mooney can continue his rampage in the paint, and if D.J. Harvey is able to turn in a full game of offensive efficiency and production.

Eagle to Watch

Ky Bowman, Guard, Junior

Bowman leads the Eagles in points, assists, and steals, and is second on the team in rebounds and blocks despite being a 6’1” guard. He is absolutely the key for BC — they can’t win without him having a fantastic game, so it will be interesting to see if he can do enough to earn BC the W. Honorable mention goes to Nik Popovic, who could really weaken the Irish by playing well inside and potentially putting Durham and Mooney in foul trouble.

NCAA Basketball: ACC Operation Basketball Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Irish X-Factor

D.J. Harvey, G, Sophomore

Gibbs will knock down some threes, Mooney will get his double-double, Durham will block some shots, and Hubb will miss some threes. But what the Irish truly need is for Harvey, who is still struggling with getting back to full strength from his 2018 knee injury and surgery, to emerge as the key, consistent scorer he can be. Harvey is one of the only guys on the team who can consistently create his own shot and knock it down from anywhere, and it’s critical that he does so throughout the entire game (he seemed to fade down the stretch last weekend against Syracuse). If he can give the Irish ~15 points, it’d go a long way in helping the Irish win their first conference game of the season.

NCAA Basketball: Syracuse at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports


I think being at home and playing a not-great shooting team will pay dividends for the Irish, who win a pretty close game over a not-great opponent.

The Irish win this one 75-70.