Old-timey basketball fans that lament the present-day lack of teamwork in the sport haven’t seen Boston College play. The Eagles aren’t very athletic, but score at will against just about everybody thanks to a five-man unit that can all dish the rock.
Old-timey fans that decry the lack of defense in the modern game probably shouldn’t pay much attention to BC. An opponent with a competent offense shouldn’t struggle to do better than a point per possession against the Eagles.
Yet BC has become a popular choice to escape the Minneapolis bracket. Most of ESPN’s experts have picked BC, and they’ve even bought in down in ACC Country. But it seems that the Eagles will have to make some stops if they are going to go far. Even though their offense was excellent in the ACC Tourney, their defense was shredded by UNC and Duke.
So that brings us to today at 12:20 PM, when BC embarks on a potential journey to the Final Four with a game against Pacific. Here’s a breakdown of the game.
First, when BC has the ball…
BC Pacific Offense Defense Adj. Eff. 5 75 Shooting 14 54 Turnovers 105 201 Rebounding 11 72 Free Throws 40 14 3FGA/FGA 243 278
The teams are polar opposites (or mirror images?). What BC likes to do, Pacific specializes in preventing. Where Pacific is weak defensively, BC is also weak on offense.
BC has an excellent eFG% without much benefit of the 3-pointer. Pacific is better at defending inside the arc, and opponents have launched a lot of 3s against them as a result (lower ranks in 3FGA/FGA defense means more 3FGAs allowed). As a result of pounding it inside, BC gets a good chunk of its offense from free throws. Pacific’s front line isn’t all that big with nobody taller than 6-9. They don’t block many shots but they should be able to hold their own on the defensive boards.
Individually, BC is fairly balanced offensively. Jared Dudley (120.1 ORtg/22.8% Poss) and Craig Smith (117.3/24.4) lead the way. But unlike last season, BC has a diverse 3-point arsenal, with each of the players in its occasional three-guard lineup able to knock down a bomb.
One reason why BC is so effective at offensive rebounding is that shooting guard Sean Marshall has racked up an incredible 9.3% offensive rebounding percentage. The only player BC puts on the floor that is offensive dead weight is the center, which is usually John Oates (104.9/12.7). It could be Daryl Hall and it wouldn’t make any difference.
Now, when Pacific has the ball…
Pacific BC Offense Defense Adj. Eff. 59 101 Shooting 17 135 Turnovers 33 237 Rebounding 240 255 Free Throws 131 52 3FGA/FGA 225 59
This is where Pacific will have to get it done if it wants to make a game of this. BC is poor at forcing turnovers, while Pacific takes good care of the ball. A single-digit turnover game is a good starting point. While Pacific doesn’t normally grab many offensive boards, they should have some opportunities against BC. Pacific, like BC, refuses to settle for jumpers even though they have a couple of good shooters. And BC doesn’t typically allow many 3s, although opponents are accurate from there (37.3%) when they shoot it. Assuming they don’t commit many turnovers and get a few offensive boards, it should be a productive game for the Tigers.
If there’s one name you’re familiar with from Pacific, it’s Christian Maraker (111.0/26.9), a 6-9 forward. But Pacific is not a one-trick pony offensively. Point guard Johnny Gray is a also an efficient, high usage scorer (111.8/22.4, 42.8% on 3s), and center Michael White isn’t too shabby either (112.3/20.0). Also helping the efficiency equation is that four of the starters shoot better than 82% from the line, even though they don’t get to the line real often.
One other thing that works in the favor of a close game is that the pace figures to be very slow. Pacific is 266th in tempo, BC is 301st. This game will be short – probably in the neighborhood of between 58 and 64 possessions. So keep that in mind when you see the final score. If Pacific can get to 70 points, it may not be enough for the win, but it will add a little more confirmation that BC’s defensive issues are what will keep them from the Final Four.