Boston College at N.C. State
Boston College (7-10, 2-1) at NC State (13-5, 2-1), 8:00 PM, ACC Network split/ESPN3
An epic battle between two teams tied for second in the ACC! in all seriousness, N.C. State can gain some separation before its first tough ACC stretch (at Miami, at North Carolina and hosting Virginia in a six-day stretch). Boston College will be challenged in every ACC game, but the Eagles have played far above expectations. Still, this is a young team and they’ve shown they can lose confidence quickly in games (especially on the road). This game will require them to hang tough in a difficult environment.
Stat to watch: Boston College’s three-point shooting. Boston College’s offense revolves around the three-point shot, and while N.C. State doesn’t need to make them, they need to defend them better. The Wolfpack did that against Wake Forest, holding the Deacons to 29.1% shooting and 2-of-20 from three (State’s best defensive performance of the season). But State allowed its first two ACC opponents to shoot 18-of-36 (50%) from three, and they can’t give up open looks against BC. Boston College has been shooting better from three in ACC play, shooting 36.2% compared to 33.9% out of conference. The Eagles are also taking better – and fewer shots overall (just 46.3 field goal attempts per game) and that deliberate, patient offense means N.C. State will have to play good defense for most of the shot clock and defend that three-point line. Nothing is more draining than working hard on defense for most of the shot clock, only to see a desperation three-pointer go in.
Most important players: Lorenzo Brown, N.C. State and Jordan Daniels, Boston College. Ever since BC head coach Steve Donahue sat Daniels after just a six minutes played against North Carolina, the freshman point guard has averaged 27 minutes in the last two games. He has averaged 8.5 points on 6-of-13 shooting (5-of-8 from three) and added five assists and two turnovers. Listed at 5-8 (and likely that’s generous), he’s too short to shoot over the top of the State defense but he’s crafty enough to drive to the basket and if State leaves him open, he can make three’s.
Brown has settled nicely into ACC play, shooting 52% and averaging 14.7 points to go with 7.0 assists, 2.0 steals and 2.7 turnovers, all improvements over his non-conference numbers. He had 20 points against Wake which isn’t a career high, but it’s especially remarkable considering it was a lower-possession and low-scoring game. Brown makes the Wolfpack go, and he has been doing that very well so far this ACC season. If he stays consistent and can get his turnovers down a bit (he has seven in the last two games), that offense will be even better.
Random stat: BC has had to use 10 different starters in 17 games this season (nine different lineups) and nine players average ten or more minutes a game. But the minute situation has been crazy as head coach Steve Donahue tinkers with the lineup, and even some of BC’s better players have seen inconsistent playing time. Looking at the minimum/maximum minutes played and the biggest jump/fall in minutes from game-to-game is pretty crazy:
Jordan Daniels: minimum 1, maximum 39 (biggest jump/fall: -29, +23)
Lonnie Jackson: minimum 4, maximum 44 (biggest jump/fall: +16, -7)
Dennis Clifford: minimum 10, maximum 46 (biggest jump/fall: -23, +14)
Matt Humphrey: minimum 13, maximum 38 (biggest jump/fall: -18, +15)
Ryan Anderson: minimum 13, maximum 44 (biggest jump/fall: -16, +13)
Patrick Heckmann: minimum 11, maximum 42 (biggest jump/fall: +22, -15 (2x))
Prediction: N.C. State 79, Boston College 63
Last week: 6-5
Season: 72-27 (11-8 ACC)