Doc's Weekend Preview - Syracuse at Boston College Basketball
The Big East sits as the third best conference according to the RPI rankings. This is with good reason because the conference has claimed the last two NCAA Championships. As it stands right now, the Big East will likely receive seven invitations to the tournament, the most of any conference. This league is loaded at the top and the only thing keeping it from being rated No. 1 is the bottom half. The following will examine the upcoming game when the Orange travel to Chestnut Hill.
Boston College basketball continues to be the surprise in the Big East. They are 10-1 and appear all but certain to clinch the title. One reason why few are giving them the respect they deserve is a non-conference schedule full of lightweights. This team padded their record against mid-majors from New England and only left this area for one game in Los Angeles against the Bruins.
The Eagles have had numerous close calls, but they continue to win ball games. Their only loss came last week in South Bend. If this team had played a tougher schedule and even lost one of those games, they would be a lock for a No. 1 seed in the Big Dance. But they chose not to go that route and because of that most experts have them penciled in as a two seed.
The Orange were on a roll until two surprising losses at the Carrier Dome. Both UCONN and Pittsburgh came from behind and left the Dome with a victory. If Syracuse has any vision of winning the Big East, they will have to run the table including a victory in this game against the division leader. The Orange were the preseason pick to win the conference and, so far, they have too be considered a disappointment. How can this team pound Villanova in Philadelphia, but not hold serve at home? The talent is there, they just need to play as a unit.
For BC to win this game, they will have to find the cracks in the 2-3 zone. Syracuse has the height to challenge shots on the perimeter but can be vulnerable for weak side rebounds. This is where Craig Smith can do his damage. Smith leads the Eagles in points and rebounds and is shooting an outstanding 51 percent from the field. He has come to play every night and is the main reason BC is where they are atop the standings. He will need another solid game tonight for Boston to win.
Syracuse seems to go as star point guard Gerry McNamara goes. McNamara had numerous opportunities to put the Panthers away early this week, but seemed fatigued and as a result his team lost the game. When he is on his game, he possesses a deadly combination of offensive productivity. McNamara will need to get his big men involved early as Hakim Warrick should be able to do damage inside against a less athletic team. Syracuse has won numerous games on the road this season and will need another strong performance here at the Forum.
This game will come down to BC's ability to shoot the ball from long range. If they can make a few early shots, this will open up the middle for Craig Smith. For Syracuse, Josh Pace will need a big game to take the pressure off of McNamara and Warrick. A win by the Orange could move them up to a No. 2 seed. If Boston College basketball prevails and runs the table, they will be a No. 1 seed from the East. Doc's Sports will have the winner in this contest, so be sure to check back Saturday to see who it is.