As basketball seasons are underway, these things become less "previews" and more "views." Nonetheless:
Last Year: Boston College enjoyed its first year in the ACC, and held up very well, going 28-8 overall and 11-5 in the ACC. Their first ACC tournament ended in the championship game, where they fell to Duke after knocking of UNC in the semis. They went three rounds deep in the NCAA's, before an overtime loss to former conference-mate Villanova in the Sweet Sixteen.
The team was an offensive force, scoring efficiently largely on their league-leading offensive rebound performance. Defensively, they were never as impressive quantitatively as UNC or Duke, but played solidly enough to win most of their ACC games. They were also the only ACC team to sweep UNC on the season, winning both in Chapel Hill and Greensboro.
Comings and Goings: The biggest loss for the Eagles is Craig Smith (17.6 ppg, 9.4 rpg), a first team All-ACC and third team All-American. Also gone is point guard Louis Hinnant (7.5 ppg, 4.6 apg) who was among the leaders in most ACC assist categories. The rest of the team is intact, however, which makes for a dangerous team picked to finish high in the conference.
Leading the team is undisputably senior Jared Dudley (16.7 ppg, 6.6 rpg) who was four votes shy of being a unaminous preseason first team all-ACC this year. This, of course, means four ACC sportswriters are demonstratably insane. He heads into his senior season with 1,500 points as an Eagle but should face a tougher time down low without Smith to draw defensive attention. There will still be Sean Marshall (11.1 ppg, 3.9 rpg) at small forward, another senior used to successfully scoring, and transfer Tyrelle Blair, who got a great deal of playing time at Loyola, at center to help Dudley frustrate defenses. The fifth starter on last year's squad, John Oates (3.4 ppg, 2.5 rpg) is also around to lend a hand.
If there's a weakness for the Eagles, it's in the backcourt. At point is sophomore Tyrese Rice (9.3 ppg, 2.5 apg) an All-ACC rookie last year, where he'll most likely bee joined in the backcourt by Marshall. Also looking to get significant playing time are sophomore Marquez Haynes (2.5 ppg, 1.0 apg) at guard, and freshman Shamari Spears, looking to take over the Craig Smith role. I'd expect to see something from Tyler Roche, the best player out of New Hampshire this year. And finally, there's Akida McLain (4.2 ppg, 2.7 rpg), who entered seven games into the season to become another spot of talent in the crowded frontcourt.
The Outlook: The Eagles have put together a great schedule for the year, spending a month tuning up against northeastern schools, interspersed with an easy Michigan State game in the Big Ten challenge and a marquee matchup with #3 Kansas on December 23rd. BC only has UNC on their schedule once (at home), a nice little advantage as well. Anything less than a league championship will be a disappointment for this senior-laden team, and there's really only one other school that can beat them to it.
Preseason Poll Finish: 3rd, a bit low. Nationally, the Eagles are 15th in both polls.
- Carolina March Forecast: 2nd in the ACC and a trip to the Final Four.