Duke at Boston College
Duke (22-4, 9-2) at Boston College (8-18, 3-9), 6:00 PM, ESPNU
All Duke has to do is beat a pretty bad Boston College team (albeit on the road) to keep pace with North Carolina and Florida State atop the ACC. Duke has to be feeling good about itself after two comeback wins in an eight-day span over in-state rivals. And BC doesn’t have the horses to compete in a game like this just yet.
Stat to watch: Does Duke’s offense get bogged down in the black hole that is Conte Forum? Duke has been excellent on the road this year, perhaps even better than at home, but they’ve also had hostile opposing crowds to help them coalesce behind a common goal. And other ACC teams have struggled at BC: the Eagles have won three out of six ACC home games and came close against NC State. In those games, BC’s opponents averaged 58.0 points and 39.3% shooting. In their other eight ACC games, opponents shot 46.6% and averaged 71.3 points. Duke has to bring the focus it has had in other road games and not let BC’s slow pace – or quiet atmosphere – distract them.
Most important players: Ryan Anderson, Boston College and Seth Curry, Duke. Boston College’s Ryan Anderson struggled most of the season, but the 6-8 freshman has averaged 16.7 points and 7.7 rebounds in the last three games on 54% shooting. He’ll face a tough test today against a big Duke front line, but he is certainly a bright spot going forward for the Eagles.
Duke’s Seth Curry has averaged 20.5 points in the last four games on 50% shooting and hit 14-of-29 three’s. In his first seven league games, he averaged 11.4 points on 36.6% shooting and made just 7-of-33 three’s. And he’s been at his best during Duke’s comeback wins.
Random stat: Courtesy of BC Interruption, the “Linsanity” surrounding New York Knicks breakout star (and Harvard alum) Jeremy Lin is not a new phenomenon to BC fans. BC took a lot of flak for losing to Harvard in 2009 and 2010, both teams led by Lin, who averaged 26 points on 69.2% shooting and added 12 assists and six steals in two games. (Note: Boston College has lost at home for four years in a row, and Lin has played in two out of the four.) But in 2010 and 2011, it hasn’t been Lin killing them: it’s been sophomore Laurent Rivard, averaging 10.9 points over his career and 20.5 against Boston College. Maybe he’ll be the next NBA sensation someday.
Prediction: Duke 67, Boston College 54
Last week: 7-4
Season: 115-40 (51-21 ACC)