(18) Connecticut (4-0) vs. Boston College (1-3)
Thursday, November 21, 7 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Phil Neuffer, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Madison Square Garden (18,200) -- New York, New York. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: UConn 3-0, BC 1-1. Away Record: UConn 0-0, BC 0-1. Neutral Record: UConn 1-0, BC 0-1. Conference Record: UConn 0-0, BC 0-0. Series Record: UConn leads, 54-35.
GAMES NOTES: As part of the 2K Sports Classic the No. 18 Connecticut Huskies will tangle with the regional rival Boston College Eagles in a non-league matchup at Madison Square Garden.
The Huskies already dealt with a team from the Hub as they tangled with Boston University in their last outing. That contest ended in a 77-60 victory for UConn, which is off to a 4-0 start in its second season under head coach Kevin Ollie. Connecticut has played three of its four games at home with the lone road contest coming in the opener when it survived against Maryland (78-77). The Huskies were 3-2 in neutral site contests last season.
Boston College was finally able to get in the win column in their last outing. The victory came as the Eagles got 38 points from Olivier Hanlan to capture an 82-79 triumph over FAU. Prior to the matchup with the Owls, the Eagles had lost three-straight games, including their home opener against Toledo (95-92). Boston College, which went 1-4 in neutral site games last year, has already played in such a contest this year when it took an 86-73 loss to Massachusetts.
The winner of this contest will face either Indiana or Washington in the final round on Friday. The losers will also square off.
These teams used to collide as conference rivals in the Big East before Boston College moved on to the Atlantic Coast Conference. The last time they met was in 2005 when Boston College claimed a 75-70 victory. Normally the Huskies end up on the winning end, with 54 victories in 89 total matchups.
The normally backcourt-heavy Huskies got a game-high 24 points from forward DeAndre Daniels in their win over BU. Overall, the Huskies were able to shoot a shade under 50 percent from the field, while holding the Terriers to 34.4 percent shooting and scoring 17 points off turnovers.
As might be expected of a team that has yet to take a loss, the Huskies have been performing well on both ends. Offensively, they are scoring 84 points per game while ranking among the top 15 teams in the country in field goal percentage (.536). On the other end of the floor the Huskies are holding teams to 63.5 points per game on 34.8 percent shooting. Daniels (10.8 ppg) is normally a complementary scorer that lets the backcourt trio of Shabazz Napier, Ryan Boatright and Omar Calhoun carry most of the load. Napier (13.5 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 7.2 apg) is off to an astounding start with his contributions in scoring, rebounding and passing. The 6-foot-1 guard had 12 points, 12 rebounds and six assists against BU. Flanking Napier are Boatright (12.8 ppg, 4.2 apg) and Calhoun (12.0 ppg), who are reliable scorers in their own right.
The Eagles doubled up FAU from beyond the arc (24-12) and shot a respectable 45.5 percent from the floor to overcome some disturbing deficits. Boston College was outrebounded in the contest (36-31) and was also outscored 22-7 on second-chance points.
If not for Hanlan, the contest with FAU may have ended quite differently. The sophomore guard has been racking up points since stepping onto campus at Boston College last season and he is continuing to do so this year, averaging 24.2 points per game on an even 50 percent shooting. Hanlan has scored at least 18 points in each game and is also netting 41.7 percent of his attempts from 3-point range. Joe Rahon (132. ppg) scored 17 points as the only other player in double figures against FAU. Rahon and Ryan Anderson (16.2 ppg, 6.2 rpg) have been the next best options after Hanlan. Anderson was out of sync against FAU as he had just seven points on 2-of-10 shooting. Efforts like that are uncommon for Anderson, who is averaging 13.3 points per game over his career. Even if Anderson does bounce back, until the Eagles can play better on defense, it won't matter. Boston College is allowing 85.5 points per game on 49.4 percent shooting.
Against FAU, Hanlan was given free reign but he will not be so fortunate against the three-pronged backcourt attack for the Huskies. Expect Napier and company to keep right on rolling into the next round.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Connecticut 88, Boston College 74
11/21 10:36:00 ET