Picture this. Around nine o'clock on Sunday night, fans storming the court at Conte Forum to celebrate with the Boston College Eagles after they upset the No. 5/4 ranked Duke Blue Devils. Likely? Not at all. Possible? Yes, absolutely. The Blue Devils may be 15-point favorites over the Eagles in their meeting at 6:00 p.m. EDT on Sunday evening in Chestnut Hill (ESPNU/WRKO), but believe it or not, Duke is not a shoe in to win. Here's why.
DUKE HAS SHOWN ITS VULNERABILITY
Duke may be the No. 5 team in the country, but it has certainly had its fair share of unranked moments. Most recently, the Blue Devils nearly coughed away a conference game against the unranked N.C. State Wolfpack, who built a 20 point lead before Duke finally came back to secure a five-point victory. The basketball season is long and features its ups and downs, so it is unfair to expect an top tier team to be perfect, but that game is troubling. If N.C. State can almost beat Duke, maybe Boston College, which only lost by five points in its last game against the Wolfpack, can do so, too.
BOSTON COLLEGE AND DUKE PLAY CLOSE CONTESTS
For some reason, the Eagles and Blue Devils have played close games when they meet. In the last three home losses, the average margin of victory for Duke has been 4.3 points. That's not a lot. This is the first time in the Steve Donahue era that the Eagles will host the Blue Devils, and Donahue has proven to be a master motivator. They'll need it Sunday.
THE EAGLES ARE ALREADY COUNTED OUT
Boston College has already been passed over in this game, and many others. Here's the problem, the Eagles aren't pushovers. They've proven that time and time again, hanging around with tough opponents and even winning three conference games. All things considered, BC has faired much better than almost everybody predicted. Duke enters this game standing tall, and it will probably be tough for the Blue Devils to get up for a lowly BC.
THE VERDICT: Will the Eagles upset the Blue Devils? No, probably not. All signs point to Duke storming into Conte Forum and pulling the rug out from under them. Yet games aren't won on paper. If they were, BC would have zero victories this season and both North Carolina and Kentucky would have been undefeated. There's another factor involved: heart. BC certainly has plenty of that, and if they find their stride early, we could be in for a treat.