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February 16, 2014

Preview: ND vs. Boston College

Untitled Document

Game 26: Notre Dame (13-12, 4-8) @ Boston College (6-18, 2-9)
Date: Feb. 16, 2014
Time: 6:00 p.m. ET
Place: Conte Forum; Chestnut Hill, Mass.
Conference: Atlantic Coast Conference
Nickname: Eagles
Location: Chestnut Hill, Mass.
2012-13 record: 16-17 (7-11 in ACC)
BC’s all-time leading scorer: Troy Bell (1999-2003) - Big East Player of the Year as a sophomore and senior. Scored 2,632 points in 122 games (21.5ppg). In 62 Big East games, Bell averaged 22.4 points per game (1,388 points).

Head coach
Steve Donahue (4th year at Boston College) - Donahue, 51, is in his 14th season as a head coach, sporting a 198-209 overall record, including a 146-138 mark in 10 years at Cornell where he led the Big Red to three straight NCAA tournament appearances and a trip to the Sweet 16 in 2009-10. Donahue is 52-70 in his fourth year at Boston College.

You should know
That Notre Dame has played Boston College in football 22 times and has taken on the basketball squad 22 times. The Irish are 13-9 against the Eagles on the gridiron and 12-10 on the hardwood. Prior to Notre Dame’s 76-73 overtime victory over Boston College at Purcell Pavilion on Feb. 1, Notre Dame last played Boston College in basketball in 2005 when the Irish claimed a 68-65 victory while both were still members of the Big East. Notre Dame has won six of its last seven games against the Eagles and holds a 9-4 mark against them at home. The series between Notre Dame and Boston College began in 1963 with a 74-66 Irish victory at the old fieldhouse…The Eagles have won two games in a row just one time this season, and that came in non-conference play in late-November against Washington on a neutral court and at home against Sacred Heart. Since then, the Eagles are 3-13 with a victory over Philadelphia University and a pair of conquests of Virginia Tech…Since the overtime loss to Notre Dame 15 days ago, the Eagles have lost by 10 at Virginia (77-67), by 21 at home against Duke (89-68) and by three at Georgia Tech (74-71).

Top players
G-Olivier Hanlan (6-4, 184, Soph.) - The ACC Rookie of the Year in 2012-13 averaged 15.4 points and 4.2 rebounds per game during his freshman campaign. He leads the Eagles in scoring this season at 18.2 per game. He’s scored in double figures in all but two games this season, and one of those was a five-point performance on 2-of-5 shooting at Notre Dame on Feb. 1. Since then, he’s tossed in 25 against Duke and 21 versus Georgia Tech. Has converted 145-of-176 free throws (.824).
F-Ryan Anderson (6-9, 216, Jr.) - The Eagles’ second-leading scorer at 15.0 per game and the top rebounder at 6.9 per game, including a team-leading 52 on the offensive glass. Cracked the 20-point mark four times in the first seven games, but then did not score as many as 20 points over the next 13 games. He scored 21 points against the Irish on Feb. 1, and then followed that up with a 20-point, seven-rebound performance against Virginia.

Brey on Boston College
“We did a heckuva job here controlling the three-point arc. They didn’t crush us from there, and they are the best three-point shooting team in the league. In their building, they’ve had a night where they’ve rung up 14. So you really have to guard the arc. When they start getting on a roll from the three-point line, it gets interesting. They have four guys on the floor that can make a three, and sometimes they get to five.

“So it really stresses our two big guys, which we used a lot of against Clemson. The game we won here, we downshifted and went small, chasing around guys on the arc. So we have to have that lineup ready, although using two big guys is good to us. Are we a lot more alert in our zone so we can keep two bigs on the floor?

“For us, I would like to see us do what we did offensively (against Clemson). I thought we ran more, even on makes. When we can get it to Eric Atkins in transition, he’s very good at making decisions.”

Inside the Irish
Tonight’s road game is the first of three in a seven-day span that will require the Irish to return home after each trip. That’s a lot of travel to Boston, Miami and Charlottesville, Va. In fact, it’s exactly 5,832 miles…The three straight road games is Notre Dame’s first such stretch since the 2010-11 season when the Irish made consecutive trips to South Florida, West Virginia and Providence (two wins and a loss to the Mountaineers)…This is Notre Dame’s first trip to Conte Forum since Feb. 4, 2004 when the Irish lost to the Eagles, 76-69, when both were members of the Big East…This is a homecoming for Irish junior Pat Connaughton and sophomore Zach Auguste. Connaughton hails from Arlington, Mass., while Auguste comes from Marlborough, Mass…Notre Dame defeated Boston College at Purcell Pavilion 15 days ago when Eric Atkins’ three-pointer in overtime with 0.8 seconds remaining lifted the Irish to a much-needed victory after dropping six of the previous seven…Mike Brey is 4-1 versus Boston College.

Prister’s Take
As difficult as things have been for the Irish in their first year in the ACC, it’s been an even greater struggle for the Eagles, who like Notre Dame have been stymied by close losses.

Since a Jan. 11 road victory at Virginia Tech, the Eagles have won just one of their last eight games, and that was against the even more feeble Hokies squad. The schedule has been difficult, but the Eagles let an opportunity slip away against Georgia Tech Thursday when they lost a 74-71 decision in Atlanta with the Yellow Jackets playing without leading scorer Trae Golden.

Boston College’s Oliver Hanlan scored the go-ahead basket with three seconds left, only to succumb to Georgia Tech on Marcus Georges-Hunt’s four-point play as time expired.

The Irish still have a shot at post-season play while the 6-18 Eagles will be playing for pride against Notre Dame. Conte Forum sold out in advance for the Notre Dame game, so look for the Boston College faithful to muster up their best effort to thwart the Irish. This is Boston College’s NCAA tournament.

These are the kind of games where the Irish struggle against the three-pointer. They did a great job of containing Olivier Hanlan and the rest of the Eagles from beyond the arc two weeks ago. Still, Boston College made 7-of-21 at Purcell Pavilion and is primed for double-digit conversions from beyond the arc. The Eagles have attempted 554 three-pointers and have made a solid 35 percent. Boston College has seven players with double-figure three-pointers made. Notre Dame has been defending the three-pointer this season, and when it comes to shooting on the road, the Irish always have a 30-to-35-percent effort lurking.

It will be interesting to see which of the two teams forces the other to play its game. The Irish had 15 offensive rebounds to Boston College’s five at Purcell Pavilion. But if the Eagles force the Irish to play smaller, it will take a supreme defensive effort for the Irish to claim their second victory in a row, which they have yet to do in ACC play and haven’t done since the turn of the calendar on Dec. 29 (Canisius) and Jan. 4 (Duke).

Boston College could have and perhaps should have won at Purcell Pavilion. The Eagles had a three-point lead with 10 seconds left and, of all people, Hanlan missed a couple of free throws down the stretch. The Eagles believe they should have won that game.

Notre Dame has more to play for from a post-season standpoint, but the arrow is pointing to an overdue Boston College squad amidst a wild home-court atmosphere.

Pointspread: Boston College by 1 ½
Prister’s Prediction: Boston College 73, Notre Dame 67
Prister’s record: 16-9 straight up; 7-15 vs. points

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