It’s been a few cold days since the Notre Dame Fighting Irish men’s basketball team fell in blowout fashion to the Duke Blue Devils, but the Irish are now ready to get back to it and move past this mess:
The Irish have lost 5 in a row now, including two straight annihilations at the hands of a couple of the best teams in the country (Duke and the Virginia Cavaliers). After a January in which they played six of eight games against the top 7 teams in the current ACC standings, they are now 11-10 and are at the bottom of those standings with a 1-7 conference record. That one ACC win, though, came a few weeks ago — at home and with only 6 available scholarship players for ND — against the Boston College Eagles, whom the Irish have still never lost to in ACC play.
So, with tomorrow’s game looming at BC, will the Irish get back on track with another win, or will the Eagles get over the hump to defeat the Irish and further send them spiraling into the last-place hole they’re currently occupying?
Let’s dive into the facts about BC and see what we think.
- Notre Dame and Boston College will be meeting for the 33rd time tomorrow, with the Irish leading the all-time series 22-10. ND has won all 11 match-ups against the Eagles as ACC opponents and the last 12 meetings overall (per Alan Wasielewski, Associate Athletics Communication Director)
- Notre Dame’s 12-game run against the Eagles is tied for the 7th-longest against current Division I opponents in school history (per Alan Wasielewski)
- Junior forward John Mooney is on a run of seven consecutive double-doubles that has pushed his season averages to 14.4 ppg and 10.8 rpg, making him the only ACC player averaging a double-double and making him the leading rebounder in the conference (per Alan Wasielewski)
- Junior Juwan Durham leads the ACC in blocked shots per game with a 3.2 average. That puts him 3rd in the country entering this week’s action. Durham has missed five out of the last six games to rest an injured ankle suffered Jan. 1st at Virginia Tech. He hopes to return to the lineup on Saturday (per Alan Wasielewski)
- With a 9.5 average, Notre Dame is 2nd in the country in turnovers committed per game behind national leader Virginia at 8.8 (per Alan Wasielewski)
- Notre Dame is committing just 13.5 personal fouls per game,which leads the nation as of January 31st. The Irish are just ahead of Siena and Dayton, who both average 13.6 (per Alan Wasielewski)
- T.J. Gibbs is just 13 points away from reaching 1,000 in his career at Notre Dame and will become the 63rd Irish player to reach that career scoring plateau. Notre Dame is tied for 5th in NCAA history for 1,000-point scorers (per Alan Wasielewski)
Where: Conte Forum — Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts
When: Saturday, February 2nd at 2:00 PM ET
How to Watch:
- TV: Raycom Regional Sports Networks with Jeff Fischel and Mike Gminski; Also available via the Fox Sports App
Radio: Notre Dame Basketball Network with Jack Nolan and Zach Hillesland (Notre Dame ‘09); Also available on the Notre Dame app
Boston College Eagles (11-8, 2-5 ACC)
The Boston College Eagles are currently 10th in the ACC, sporting a 2-5 conference record and sitting at 11-8 overall. However, after having lost 5 straight games, the Eagles are playing some pretty good basketball, winning 2 of their last 3, including an 87-82 win over the then-11th-ranked Florida State Seminoles, and just pushed Syracuse for 40 minutes with a 77-71 loss on Wednesday.
A middling team on KenPom (112th overall — 88th on offense, 146th on defense), the Eagles don’t excel in any particular areas, ranked above 100 in categories such as field goal percentage and scoring offense and ranking above 200 in the country in categories such as three point percentage and scoring defense.
Nevertheless, they stay pretty clean in terms of fouls and turnovers, hanging around the top 25 in those statistics, and are roughly top-50 in the shooting percentages they allow overall and from 3-point range specifically.
In addition, they’re led by a supremely talented guard who can go off at any time, taking games over and oftentimes nearly single-handedly allowing the Eagles to hang around in games. Ky Bowman is a 6’1” junior guard who leads the team in points (20.5), assists (3.6), and 3-point percentage (37%), and is second in rebounds (7.7) and steals (1.4).
Bowman isn’t the only guy on the squad who can score, though, as BC has a trio of guys averaging essentially the exact same amount of points who can help shoulder the burden of scoring.
6’2” freshman guard Wynston Tabbs (13.9 ppg), 6’5” senior guard Jordan Chatman (13.9 ppg), and 6’11” junior forward Nik Popovic (13.8 ppg) are all pretty talented guys who can score a little bit, and Popovic especially is a solid player down low, averaging 7.3 rebounds, 0.9 blocks, and 54% shooting from the field. Chatman (36%) and Tabbs (32%) add some decent three-point shooting as well.
Tabbs missed the Syracuse game with an injury, so we will see if he plays in this one. Similarly, the Irish have been without Juwan Durham lately, but the word on the street is that he is expected back for this one — for once, the Irish might be the team less affected by injuries in this one (although, of course, Rex Pflueger and Robby Carmody being out for the year is still pretty hurtful).
Other contributors for BC include a couple long, 6’8” guys in Jairus Hamilton (5.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg) and Steffon Mitchell (4.6 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 2.6 apg), and some perimeter help from 6’3” freshman Chris Herren and 6’4” junior Jared Hamilton.
Overall, the Eagles don’t do much particularly well, but with the Irish having to go TO Chestnut Hill and with the BC team on a little bit of a roll of late, Notre Dame may be walking away without a winning streak against BC and with a 1-8 record in ACC play.
Eagle to Watch
Ky Bowman, Guard, Junior
Bowman will probably be the best player on the floor on Saturday (although John Mooney will likely have something to say about that), and if BC hopes to end this losing streak to the Irish, they will need their best player making all sorts of plays. I think he’ll bring his A-game for this one.
John Mooney, F, Junior
Mooney has been simply stellar with his 7-straight double-doubles in ACC play, and with limited heft down low besides Nik Popovic for BC, Mooney having a strong game, both scoring-wise and in cleaning up the glass and limiting BC’s second-chance opportunities, will be very important to the Irish picking up their first road ACC win.
I think this will be similar to the first meeting between these two teams — a close game that comes down to the wire. However, as much as it being at BC makes me want to say the Eagles will win this, I think ND having more than 6 guys available and potentially having Juwan Durham roaming the paint, even in limited minutes, means the Irish will extend their BC winning streak and improve to 2-7 in ACC play.
The Irish win this one 74-70.