Matt Humphrey and the Boston College Eagles take on the Saint Louis Billikens in the opening round of the 76 Classic at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California.
Event: Boston College Eagles (1-2) vs. St. Louis Billikens (3-0)
Date/Time: Thanksgiving Day (November 24, 2011) - 2:00 p.m. EDT.
Location: Anaheim Convention Center (Capacity: 9,100), Anaheim, CA.
Odds: Saint Louis enters as a heavy 18-point favorite according to 5Dimes.com.
Broadcast Info: Thursday's game between the Eagles and Billikens will be televised nationally on ESPNU and can also be seen on the internet on ESPN3.com. Dave Flemming and Sean Farnham will have the television call. In addition, the game can be heard locally on the WEEI Sports Radio Network (93.7 FM, 850 AM).
Series History: This meeting is only the third ever between the Eagles and Billikens, with each team earning a split in a home-and-home series. BC defeated Saint Louis, 61-39, on December 4, 2007 at Conte Forum while the Billikens bested the Eagles 53-50 on November 22, 2008 at Chaifetz Arena.
Last Time Out: Boston College was blown away by the UMass Minutemen in its last game, losing 82-46 on Monday night in Chestnut Hill. Patrick Heckmann scored 11 points in his return to action and Matt Humphrey added 10 points. Ryan Anderson scored eight points and had five rebounds for the Eagles, who shot a dismal 31.1 percent (14-for-45).
The Billikens are coming off of a 77-64 victory over the Washington Huskies on November 20. Brian Conklin scored 25 points on 9-of-15 shooting to lead Saint Louis. Kwamain Mitchell had 18 points and Rob Loe scored eight points in the Billikens' victory. Saint Louis outscored Washington by 25 points (50-25) in the first half.
Eagles In The Rankings: Boston College is currently unranked and has not received any votes in either major poll. The Eagles rank 307th in the nation in points per game (59), 235th in rebounds (34.3), 307th in assists (9.7 APG) and 333rd in team field goal percentage (.355).
Billikens In The Rankings: Saint Louis is currently unranked by did receive votes in the AP Top 25 Poll (six votes) and the ESPN/USA Today Top 25 Poll (12 votes). The Billikens rank 168th in the country in points per game (69.7), 314th in rebounds (30.3), 86th in assists per game (14.7) and 44th in team field goal percentage (.490).
Statistical Leaders: Patrick Heckmann is the Eagles' leading scorer, averaging 15 points per game. Heckmann also leads the team in rebounding with 6.5 boards per game and Jordan Daniels leads BC in assists with 2.3 APG.
Conklin leads the Billikens in scoring with 16.7 points per game and is second in rebounding with 4.3 boards per game. Cody Ellis leads St. Louis in rebounding with 5 boards per contest and Kwamain Mitchell averages a team-best 5.0 assists per game.
Storyline: Boston College is struggling, plain and simple. The Eagles have been blown away in their last two games, most recently against UMass - an 82-46 loss. In some ways, this was to be expected. BC has a roster full of freshman, translating to a lot of mistakes through the first three games - especially turnovers.
For St. Louis, this game shouldn't be much of a test. The Billikens are well on their way to a successful season, winning their first three games. They are already starting to receive national attention, as St. Louis is receiving votes in both major polls.
Players To Watch: Patrick Heckmann is the top player to watch for the Eagles, as he leads the team in scoring and rebounding. Although he missed one of BC's first three games, Heckmann has led the team in scoring in each of the two games he has played in. If BC is going to make this game competitive, Heckmann will likely be a big factor.
Meanwhile, Brian Conklin is the player to watch for St. Louis, as he is the team's leading scorer and second-leading rebounder. Through three games, Conklin is shooting at a very impressive .630 clip from the field and is shooting .941 percent from the free throw line. Expect Conklin to have an impact on the game, regardless of the outcome.
Prediction: The outcome of this game likely relies on how consistent the Eagles can be on offense. If BC can find its stride early and keep a hot shooting touch, expect this game to be decided by 10 or fewer points. However, if the Eagles fall apart like they did against Holy Cross and UMass, expect another blowout. Unfortunately, the latter is more likely with such a young group. Final Score: St. Louis 76, Boston College 54.
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