Event: Boston University Terriers (4-9) Vs. Quinnipiac Bobcats (7-5)
Date/Time: Saturday December 31, 2011-12 p.m. EDT.
Location: TD Banks Sports Center (Capacity: 3,570)-Hamden, Connecticut.
Broadcast Info: Saturday's game will be broadcast on NESN in the New England and SNY for viewers in New York. 1510AM The Zone will provide a radio broadcast of the contest with Doug Brown and Brian Maurer on the call.
All-Time Series: The two teams have split two prior matchups with Quinnipiac winning last season's contest 82-81 at Case Gymnasium. In last year's game, their were five lead changes and one tie in the final two minutes as Dominique Langston's tipin with three seconds left gave Quinnipiac the edge. Boston University's three leading scorers in the game (John Holland, Jake O'Brien and D.J. Irving) combined for 55 points in the game, but all three will likely not play this time around, due to graduation or injury.
Last Time Out: Things didn't get any better for Boston University in their third trip to Philadelphia, as the Terriers fell 70-53 to LaSalle Thursday night. Redshirt freshmen Malik Thomas had a career day with 17 points and eight rebounds, but the rest of the team struggled offensively, as the Terriers lost their fifth in a row.
Quinnipiac earned their second win in a row Wednesday night, when they took to the road and downed Colgate 80-70. Sophomore forward Ike Azotam led the way with 20 points and 14 rebounds, as the Bobcats knocked down 57 percent of their shots in the second half and 28-of-31 free throws to secure the victory.
Storylines: Boston University can only hope that this year's matchup against Quinnipiac will be as exiciting and close as last year's showdown, it won't be easy though. With D.J. Irving out for the forseeable future with concussion symptoms, the Terriers will need to concoct a new formula to stay competitive, one they've struggled to find in their past two losses to Bucknell and LaSalle.
Senior shooting guard Darryl Partin leads the Terriers with 20.2 ppg but is shooting just 28 percent from the 3-point line and 71 percent from the free throw line, after hitting 35 percent of shots from behind the arc and 76 percent from the charity stripe last year. A consistent second scoring option is hard to pinpoint with Irving out. Forwards Dom Morris, Patrick Hazel and Thomas all have finished in double figures this season, but have been inconsistent over the past month.
The extremely athletic Bobcats are led by senior guard James Johnson (17.3 ppg), Ike Azotam (16.2 ppg, 11.2 rbg) and junior forward Jamee Jackson (9.8 ppg, 5.4 rbg). Quinnipiac's real strength is their rebounding prowess; the Bobcats are second in the nation in rebounding margin (12.3) and lead the nation in offensive rebounds per game (17.6).
Players To Watch: Dom Morris has long been heralded as one of the Terriers with the most potential, and his team needs him to break out, sooner rather than later. The sophomore big man has great size, has a strong inside game and an ability to hit the outside shot, but has been extremely hesitant since donning the Scarlet and White. Morris' size and athleticism means he can keep up with the talented Bobcats frontcourt and Boston University absolutely needs more production out of their frontcourt with Irving out.
James Johnson is one of the best players in New England that you've probably never heard of. Last season he was a First Team All Northeast Conference selection and has improved his scoring numbers from a year ago. The Bronx native had a big game against UMass two weeks ago and is capable of scoring in bunches at any time. While Quinnipiac has plenty of weapons, Johnson is the most dangerous, as he's hitting 40 percent of his field goal and 3-point attempts.
Prediction: Boston University needs to show themselves and everyone else that they can compete without D.J. Irving, doing it against Quinnipiac will not be an easy task. The Bobcats strengths mirror the Terriers weaknesses (especially rebounding), and I just don't see the Terriers coming away with a victory. Final Score: Quinnipiac 71, Boston University 58.