Boston College-Notre Dame Preview
After escaping with a pair of narrow victories, Notre Dame’s luck finally ran out in another tight game over the weekend.
A visit from Boston College could help the Fighting Irish finally catch their breath.
Looking to bounce back, 10th-ranked and heavily favored Notre Dame tries to continue its success against the Eagles on Wednesday night.
The Irish (20-3, 8-2 ACC) nearly emerged perfect from a grueling slate of games. Notre Dame stormed back to beat North Carolina State 81-78 in overtime last Sunday and No. 4 Duke 77-73 on Wednesday, but it came out on the wrong end of another nail-biter in Saturday’s 76-72 loss at Pittsburgh.
Jerian Grant scored nine straight points to put the Irish ahead 72-71 with 31 seconds to play, but Notre Dame gave up the go-ahead basket with 12 seconds to go. Coach Mike Brey’s team allowed the Panthers to shoot 58.5 percent for its highest mark surrendered this season.
“The way we’ve been winning, I’m thinking we may steal another one. We’ve had two thefts this week already. We’re 2-1 in thefts,” Brey said. “Our games have been very exhausting.”
This game doesn’t set up as nearly as tough a battle for the Irish, who have taken three straight and seven of eight from Boston College (9-11, 1-7). While the last five of those victories were decided by a combined 16 points, Notre Dame seems to have big edge this time around.
Still, the Irish aren’t expecting anything to come easy Wednesday.
“In this league they just keep coming at you,” said Brey, whose team visits the Blue Devils on Saturday. “This group, after a loss, has bounced back pretty good. But you know we’ve got Boston College (on Wednesday) night — I know their league record isn’t good, (but) they’ve played everybody tough and it’s going to be a dogfight.”
The Irish are shooting 52.1 percent to rank second in the nation, and they feature one of the highest-scoring offenses with 81.2 points per game. The Eagles, on the other hand, are averaging 64.2 for the second-worst mark in the 15-team ACC, and that dips to 59.4 per contest in league play.
Olivier Hanlan leads the team with 16.4 points per game while Aaron Brown is second at 14.8, but they’re the only two players averaging double figures for Boston College. The duo combined for 30 as the Eagles shot 39.1 percent in Saturday’s 64-49 loss at Clemson.
Boston College was outrebounded 37-27 and went 5 for 9 from the foul line, matching season lows for makes and attempts.
The Eagles are 1-4 on the road, with their lone victory coming 64-62 over lowly Georgia Tech on Jan. 25. The Eagles have dropped 23 of their last 25 against Top 25 foes, including all three matchups this season by an average of 15.6 points.
Notre Dame is 14-1 at the Joyce Center, where it’s outscored each of its 12 unranked opponents by 26.8 points per game while averaging 86.3 points on 56.0 percent shooting.
Grant, averaging a team-leading 17.3 points, has scored at least 23 in three of the last four home games. The Irish have won 30 of their last 35 when Grant scores at least 15.