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HOOPS Preview: Notre Dame Vs. Boston College

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Freshman guard Prentiss Hubb and the Irish are seeking their first ACC victory. (BGI/Corey Bodden)

NOTRE DAME (10-5, 0-2 ACC) VS. BOSTON COLLEGE (9-5, 0-2 ACC)

Where: Purcell Pavilion (South Bend, Ind.)

Rankings: Both teams are unranked.

TV/Time: Raycom Network, 12 p.m. ET.

Series Facts: Notre Dame leads the all-time series 21-10, and have won the last 11 meetings.

Last Meeting: Notre Dame won 84-67 at Boston College on Feb. 17, 2018.

Notre Dame returns to the court after one week off following a loss to Syracuse in its ACC home opener. The Irish will host Boston College, which sits at 0-2 in the league following losses to Virginia Tech and Virginia.

Blue & Gold Illustrated previews both teams before they meet in South Bend.

NOTRE DAME OVERVIEW

The Irish led for much of the first half in their last outing against Syracuse before the Orange surged ahead and led for the vast majority of the final 20 minutes.

It was a close contest throughout until the Orange pulled away during the final minutes for the 72-62 victory.

Notre Dame shot less than 35 percent from the field and behind the arc, which wasn’t incredibly surprising with multiple new faces going against Syracuse’s two-three zone. Freshmen Prentiss Hubb (0), Dane Goodwin (four) and Nate Laszewski (nine) combined for 13 points in their first taste against the zone on a combined 4-of-18 shooting and a 1-of-13 effort on three-point attempts.

Junior guard T.J. Gibbs led the charge with 18 points while playing all 40 minutes. Gibbs connected on six three-pointers to keep the Irish within striking distance throughout. Junior forward John Mooney notched his seventh double-double of the year with 14 points and 14 rebounds, while sophomore wing D.J. Harvey added 11 points to round out the lone double-digit scorers.

Junior forward Juwan Durham continued to be a menace around the rim with three blocks to go with his six points and six rebounds. Junior guard Nik Djogo played four minutes in his return after missing the Virginia Tech contest with the flu.

The offensive struggles are concerning for the Irish, but not unexpected in that particular matchup with a young team and the zone. That issue, however, has to be addressed and fixed and soon. A gauntlet looms following the Eagles, and less than 40 percent shooting efforts will not get it done in the league.

BOSTON COLLEGE OVERVIEW

The 2018-19 season has been up and down for head coach Jim Christian’s Eagles.

An early home loss to IUPUI (76-69) was followed with wins over Loyola Chicago (78-66) and Minnesota (68-56). Before arriving into league play, Boston College fell 79-78 in overtime to Hartford at home.

The Eagles drew a tough draw to start ACC with top-25 opponents in Virginia and Virginia Tech, and lost both by an average of 19 points.

With a 9-5 record to date, Boston College hopes to turn it around with a win over Notre Dame on the road.

Even with losing guard Jerome Robinson (20.7 points per game), the Eagles still have some firepower on offense led by guard Ky Bowman (20.0 points, 7.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game). Bowman is counted on to do a lot for the Eagles besides scoring and he has done just that so far this season.

Guards Wynston Tabbs (14.2 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game) and Jordan Chatman (12.5 points per contest) provide strong support in the backcourt, while 6-11 big man Nik Popovic has upped his game to 13.7 points and 7.0 rebounds per outing this year to go with 1.1 blocks per game. Freshman Jairus Hamilton (6.4 points and 5.2 rebounds per game) complements Popovic in the frontcourt.

Sophomore forward Steffon Mitchell, the team’s leading rebounder at 8.5 per contest, missed the team’s last game against Virginia and is day-to-day. So, his status for today is up in the air. Guards Chris Herren Jr. (5.2 points per game) and Jared Hamilton (3.3 points per game) provide solid bench depth for Christian and company.

Through 14 games, Boston College is averaging 75.0 points per game, and shooting 44.5 percent overall and 30.4 percent behind the arc. KenPom.com ranks the Eagles at 117th in adjusted offensive efficiency and 128th in adjusted defensive efficiency.

Which Boston College team will the Irish face today?

GAME OUTLOOK

This contest is a must-win for both programs, and even more so Notre Dame. After the Eagles, the Irish face North Carolina on the road, NC State at home, Georgia Tech on the road, and Virginia and Duke at home in a Saturday-Monday turnaround.

A loss to the Eagles would put the possibility of a 0-8 start in ACC play very much in play. All but the Yellow Jackets rank among the top 15 nationally, and winning in Atlanta hasn’t come easy for Notre Dame. The Irish have lost three straight to Georgia Tech on the road.

Both the Eagles and Irish are entering today on losing streaks and badly need some confidence.

Prediction

Notre Dame 77, Boston College 73

The Irish pull off a tough one at home. Being in South Bend gives Notre Dame enough of an edge in this one.

Stopping Bowman will be a top priority for the Irish, and that will not come easy. It will be a tough matchup for Gibbs and the freshmen duo of Hubb and Goodwin on the perimeter containing Bowman and company.

However, I think Notre Dame shoots it well enough to get the job done.

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Talk about it inside Rockne’s Roundtable

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