Preview: Boston College @ No. 10 ND

The last time the Irish lost a game, they went on a five-game winning streak. The time before that? Eleven in a row. Now Notre Dame tries to bounce back from Saturday’s 76-72 loss at Pittsburgh against a Boston College team that has lost 8-of-11 and 4-of-5.

• Game 24: Boston College (9-11, 1-7) @ No. 10 Notre Dame (20-3, 8-2)
• Place: Purcell Pavilion; Notre Dame, Ind.
• Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
TV: RSN
• Conference: Atlantic Coast Conference
• Location: Chestnut Hill, Mass.
• Nickname: Eagles
• 2013-14 record: 8-24 (4-14 in ACC)

Boston College Head Coach
Jim Christian (1st year at Boston College) -- Career record: 251-164 in 13th year as head coach (137-59 in six years at Kent State; 56-73 in four years at TCU; 49-21 in two years at Ohio; and 9-11 in first year at Boston College).

Christian, 49, took Kent State to NCAA tournament appearances in his fourth (25-9) and sixth (28-7) seasons. Went to TCU and did not reach the .500 mark (18-15) until his fourth season. Won 24 and 25 games in his two seasons at Ohio University.

Worked a total of 12 seasons as an assistant coach at Western Kentucky (twice), St. Francis, Miami, Pittsburgh and Kent State before landing his first head-coaching job at Kent State, following Stan Heath.

Boston College Scouting Report
The Eagles enter Purcell Pavilion Wednesday night really struggling with losses in eight of their last 11 games, including four of the last five with the only victory a 64-62 conquest at Georgia Tech on Jan. 25.

Boston College has remained competitive in losing seven-of-eight conference tilts. Four of their seven ACC losses have been by single-digits, including a one-point overtime loss to Pittsburgh, a four-point setback at Miami, an eight-point loss at Syracuse, and a nine-point defeat at home against Louisville on Jan. 28.

And yet statistically, Boston College doesn’t do much well. The Eagles are 284th in rebounding (32.2/game), 263rd in scoring (64.2), and 194th in field-goal percentage (43.2). The senior-laden squad is shooting just 31.2 percent from three-point range, and they shoot a lot of them (19.7/game).

Leading the way is the only non-senior among the top five scorers on the team – 6-foot-4, 190-pound junior Olivier Hanlan – who is scoring at a 16.4 clip after averaging 18.5 as a sophomore in 2013-14.

Hanlan, who is averaging three turnovers per game, is shooting just 31.3 percent (31-of-99) from three-point range. He scored 25 points in Boston College’s only ACC victory over Georgia Tech, but has shot under .500 from the field in 13-of-20 games.

Senior Aaron Brown, a 6-foot-5, 215-pound senior, averages 14.8 points and 3.1 rebounds per game. He is the most prolific (re: he’s attempted the most) three-point shooter on the team with 123 attempts and a 33.3 shooting percentage. Brown scored 28 points versus Louisville and 21 against Syracuse.

Leading the way on the backboards for the Eagles are 7-foot-1, 250-pound senior Dennis Clifford and 6-foot-6, 210-pound senior Patrick Heckmann. Clifford sweeps the boards at a 5.0 clip while Heckmann averages 4.5. Heckman is Boston College’s third-leading scorer at 8.7; Clifford averages 6.9. Clifford paces the Eagles in offensive rebounds (34) and blocked shots (22).

Dimitri Batten, a 6-foot-3, 205-pound sophomore, averages 7.5 points per game.
 
Boston College-Notre Dame Preview
The last time the Irish lost a basketball game prior to Saturday’s 76-72 setback at Pittsburgh – a six-point loss at home to Virginia on Jan. 10 -- they responded with a five-game winning streak.

Prior to that, after losing to Providence by a point in Connecticut on Nov. 23, Notre Dame ripped off 11 straight victories, including home victories over Michigan State and Florida State, a neutral site win against Purdue, and at North Carolina.

Make no mistake, the Irish will respond with intensity tonight at Purcell Pavilion when they take to the court for the first time since Saturday’s narrow loss. The Irish were a bit leg weary at Pittsburgh, and it showed with Pat Connaughton and Jerian Grant throughout much of the game. It really showed on the defensive end where the Irish allowed the Panthers to convert 15-of-22 shots.

Boston College is quite capable of competing on the road. After the Eagles fell by 23 at Cameron Indoor Stadium to open ACC play, they battled Miami on the road to a four-point loss and fell at Syracuse by just eight. Boston College stumbled to a 15-point loss at Clemson over the weekend.

Boston College struggles on the offensive end, and heading into a game at Notre Dame without the necessary firepower can be a scary assignment, particularly against an Irish squad that doesn’t take losing lightly. It should be noted that Boston College beat Providence by nine on Chestnut Hill, which was the only team to hand Notre Dame a loss until Virginia dumped the Irish on Jan. 10.

But that’s about the extent of Boston College’s silver linings in this matchup. The Eagles likely won’t be able to take advantage of Notre Dame’s rebounding shortcomings, and if they don’t shoot well above their 31.2 percent three-point shooting pace, Notre Dame just may run them out of the gym.

There’s not a whole lot to analyze here. If the Irish are at peak motivation to atone for Saturday’s loss, it will be a long night for the Eagles.

• Pointspread: Notre Dame by 13
• Irish Illustrated Prediction: Notre Dame 86, Boston College 68
• Season record: 15-8 straight up; 8-7 vs. points


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