Coming off back-to-back loses, Maryland is hoping to begin their ACC schedule with a win on the road against struggling Boston College. The Eagles, who are also coming off back to back loses, have really struggled out of the gate, losing six of their first nine games. They've also played some of the same teams Maryland has, dropping a two point game to UConn and losing by four in overtime against Providence. BC was picked to finish eighth in the ACC's preseason poll, but most expected a better start out of the Eagles than what they've shown so far (sound familiar?).
So what has been Boston College's biggest issues this season? Transition defense, according to SBNation's BC Interruption. Their halfcourt defense has also struggled. According to KenPom, BC's adjusted efficiency ranks 268th out of 349 D-1 teams. For comparison, Maryland currently ranks 43rd in that category. So why have four of BC's loses been decided by four or less points? Turns out they're pretty darn efficient on the offensive side of the ball.
They're the 29th best team when it comes to adjusted offensive efficiency (Maryland ranks 84th as of today). In general, BC is very good on the offensive side of the ball, ranking in the top 100 in several categories, including effective field goal percentage (75th), 2-point % (20th), FT% (2nd), steal % (100th). They're also 109th in turnover %. In contrast, when you look at the defensive version of those statistics (how the other team's offense performs against them), they're near the bottom in several categories, including: 345th in steal%; 322 in 3p%; 246th in effective FG%; and 305th in offensive rebounding %.
Starting Five (of 7):
Eddie Odio, Jr., F, 6'8"
Ryan Anderson, Jr., F, 6'9"
Joe Rahon, So., G, 6'2"
Alex Dragicevich, Jr., G, 6'8"
Lonnie Jackson, Jr., G, 6'4"
Olivier Hanlan, So., G, 6'4"
William Magarity, Fr., F, 6'11"
BC has been tinkering with their starting five a lot this season. Basically, these seven players are going to each play at least 15-20 minutes. Hanlan, Anderson and Rahon have each averaged at least 31 minutes per game this season and average 19.2, 18 and 12 points per game, respectively. Those three represent 64% of BC's offense and also account for almost half of their team's rebounds. None of BC's players really rank highly nationally in KenPoms rankings. Rahon is 352nd in eFG% and 299th in true shooting %. Ryan Anderson ranks highly in % of possessions for the Eagles, with 28.7% of BC's offensive possessions going to him. And Olivier Hanlan is 439th in eFG% and 212 in true shooting %.
As we mentioned before, transition defense and just defense in general are a major issue for BC. That should be huge advantage for Maryland, who is forcing their opponents to turn the ball over on 21.7% of their offensive possessions, good for 34th nationally. And while Maryland itself is turning the ball over on 20.6% of their offensive possessions (277th nationally), BC is only forcing their opponents into turnovers on 14.6% of their offensive possessions, which ranks 333rd.
The biggest factor in favor of Maryland is rebounding. BC doesn't have any really dominant rebounders. Ryan Anderson leads the Eagles with 6.4 boards per game. Maryland's offensive rebounding percentage is 40.4%, good for 15th nationally, whereas BC ranks 305th in defensive rebounds.
Furthermore, Boston College really struggles with their 3p% defense, allowing opponents to shoot over 40% from beyond the arc, which ranks 322nd. Jake Layman could potentially have a very nice rebound game against the Eagles.
While BC's offensive efficiency will likely keep them in the game and keep the game close, Maryland has the potential to really exploit some of the Eagles' weaknesses. This by no means will be a cakewalk for Maryland, especially since it's an ACC road game, which they've struggled with over the past several years, but on paper they should win. That being said, until Maryland can demonstrate an ability to avoid a slow start and effectively execute their offense, it's hard to know what they'll do, especially on the road. But in the end, I think Charles Mitchell, Evan Smotrycz and Jake Layman will prove to be too much for the Eagles. Terps win, 77-74.