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Villanova Basketball Game Preview: Boston College Eagles

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The 2020 season gets underway against a former Big East foe.

NCAA Basketball: Duke at Boston College Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

After the longest offseason any of us can remember, we can finally enjoy some real-life Villanova Wildcats’ basketball. The 2020-21 season is set to begin Wednesday, when our Wildcats face off against Boston College at The Mohegan Sun Arena.

It will be the 77th meeting between the two schools, the last being the 2006 Sweet 16 overtime thriller (shoutout Will Sheridan). Overall, Villanova leads the all time series by a wide margin, 52-24.

Scouting the Eagles

Jim Christian is entering his seventh season as head coach of Boston College. This year’s group comes into the year picked to finish 14th out of 15 teams in the ACC. The Eagles lose four of their top six scorers from last year, where they finished 13-19 overall. They were inconsistent last year, losing to the likes of DePaul and Belmont, but was able to beat Virginia.

Jay Heath will be a guy to keep an eye on, a promising sophomore guard who had a team-high 13.1 points per game last year as a freshman, while shooting almost 38% from three. Also watch out for Steffon Mitchell, a senior forward that excels on the glass. He averaged 7.8 points and 8.7 boards per game last season. He especially thrived in creating second-chance opportunities, scooping up over three rebounds per game. He should present a solid frontcourt matchup for Jeremiah Robinson-Earl.

Last year, Boston College struggled offensively outside of Heath. According to KenPom, the Eagles placed in the bottom third of the entire country in terms of offensive efficiency. Maybe a couple of new faces, like Providence transfer Makai Ashton-Langford, can help improve upon that this season.

Scheduling Chaos

The 2020 season has already been affected before it’s even begun. Earlier this week it was announced that Baylor head coach Scott Drew tested positive for COVID-19 and would be replaced by interim head coach Jerome Tang. That news quickly turned into Baylor being forced to withdraw from the Empire Classic completely, and the search began for a fourth team. Enter Rhode Island. So Bobby Hurley and the Arizona State Sun Devils will square off against his brother’s former squad, in what should be a pretty entertaining matchup. The strength of schedule (potentially) takes a hit without Baylor, but at this point I just need to see some basketball.

Rotation Watch

The Eagles should be somewhat of a work in progress, and if Jay Wright’s team plays as we think they’re capable of, this one won’t be too much of a sweat. With no Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree and no Bryan Antoine to start the year, this should be a game where guys like Caleb Daniels, Cole Swider, Brandon Slater, and Eric Dixon get some extended time to showcase their abilities. We’ll get to see who claims that final starting spot, and how Daniels and Dixon look after a redshirt year. Early-season tournaments have generally been pretty good to Jay Wright, so let’s hope this year is no different.

Here’s to the start of a new college basketball season and (I cannot stress this enough) go ‘Cats.