Next up for Duke is Boston College and the teams have had some big games over the years, most recently last year when BC knocked off #1 Duke.
But don’t forget that Duke and BC played in 1985 in the NCAA tournament. Mark Alarie had a hip pointer and Duke narrowly lost.
This year BC took a massive hit when Raleigh native Jerome Robinson declared for the NBA draft. Initially seen as a fringe 1st round pick, he made an enormous impression and rocketed to the late lottery, going to the Clippers at #13.
Last year, Robinson had 24 against Duke and the other 2/3s of BC’s modern answer to Georgia Tech’s Lethal Weapon Three, Jordan Chatman and Ky Bowman, finished with 22 and 30 respectively.
Chatman and Bowman are both back but BC is not nearly as effective this season. They’re still dangerous though.
Jim Christian hasn’t gotten enough respect for bring BC back from the dead and what’s particularly impressive is his eye for underappreciated talent.
Robinson got no love in the Triangle and Bowman was a football recruit for UNC before he decided to change his sport. He basically came out of nowhere.
Jordan Chatman was a BYU transfer but only averaged 2.7 ppg.
Nik Popovic has developed into a solid big man but didn’t arrive as one. Steffon Mitchell was lightly recruited but has become a tremendous rebounder.
Christian also appears to be a good developer of talent. His main problem may be he just hasn’t gotten enough of it. The Eagles go with a small rotation, basically eight players including Chris Herren, Jr., a walk-on who quickly got a scholarship.
Freshman guard Winston Tabbs is promising but he’s missed four of the last five games.
Depth is a real problem for BC and it’s forced Bowman and Chatman to play heavy minutes.
That’ll be compounded in Cameron with the pit bull/savant mentality of Tre Jones.
Last time out, Jones tied St. John’s guard Shamorie Ponds in knots. If he can restrict Bowman, BC has a real problem.
Chatman is a solid guard and Popovic has become a fine big man. Outside of them though BC doesn't have a ton of offense. Tabbs, who is going to be good, averages 13.9, but he’s missed four of the last five games and BC lost all save the one he appeared in (vs. Florida State).
And after him the next leading scorer puts up 5.5.
Any team with Bowman is a threat but he can only do so much by himself. And BC has to deal with all of Duke’s firepower - Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett, Cam Reddish, Tre Jones and a rapidly improving Marques Bolden.
The guy has really come on and now he’s a significant force on defense. He gets his share of blocks but we wonder how many shots are missed just because his long arms are there.
When you get down to it Boston College’s chance of beating Duke relies on defense: if the Eagles can slow Duke down they have a shot at an upset. But if Duke scores in the 80s or high 90s, it’s going to be very difficult for the Eagles.
Even then though there is a path: Bowman has proven himself capable of heroic efforts. If he busts a huge game, BC could keep up in a high scoring game.
If not, it’s going to be difficult.
And of course Duke has a score to settle from last year.