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Boston College @ Providence

by: Rich Salvatori @dickiesalvatori - posted on: 04-Nov-2013

Two teams whom each took significant strides toward respectability in 2012-2013 square off here in this game to open their new seasons.

If you followed CBB a year ago, you’ll remember that both of these groups made for quality situational plays quite often. They were outmanned in their respective conferences, but were also a bit underrated when it came to Vegas standards.

BC returns basically its entire team including all five of its starters. Ryan Anderson provides them with a potential matchup nightmare for the opposition at power forward, and they also boast several guards who are both gritty and skilled.

Rebounding was a massive issue for them, as they had minimal interior depth behind Anderson. 7’1 junior Dennis Clifford is expected to be healthy this season and should provide a serious improvement in that category. The Eagles are still thin on the inside behind him and Anderson, but regardless, a rebounding group that ranked in the bottom third of the nation a season ago should get better. 

The Friars were not a bad team on the glass, but they don’t have a ton of size. Their success primarily comes from their ability to shoot the ball consistently, something that can be “feast or famine” depending on matchup. Bryce Cotton leads a group of guards that possess long range potential at all times, and that makes them a tricky opponent.

I do not see either team doing enough defensively to really stymie the other here. Providence will look to push, but they played at an average tempo a year ago. That should work out fine for the Eagles, but I could see both teams running more this season given their increased depth.

For B.C., the health of Clifford and the eligibility of Alex Dragicevich, a Notre Dame transfer who, at 6’8, is very skilled, provides them with at least a strong seven man rotation, something they could not boast of last year. Providence counters with four returning starters, the likely improvement of Kris Dunn, who will be eligible and ready to go right away this year, as well as the expected increase in minutes for talented sophomore Josh Fortune.

Unfortunately, Dunn appears banged up with a shoulder problem heading into this one, a factor which could force Cotton to play more point guard than he or this team would prefer. Brandon austin and fellow freshman Rodney Bullock are also suspended for this game, a strain on the depth of the Friars. 

Fortune provides versatile backcourt depth for Dunn and Cotton. Both are long and rangy athletes who can also play the wing and help both defensive and n the glass.Should the Friars prove to become a better defensive unit this season, it could go a long way toward them qualifying for the NCAA tournament.

I'd look for the Friars to be 3.5-4 point favorites in this game, although that number should likely be adjusted possibly 2.5 points base on the overall effectiveness of Dunn. That is pretty consistent with the number of 2.5 being floated currently. All in all, the Dunn health issues make this a difficult bet for me. Their home court is not a major advantage, and it isn't as if B.C. has to travel far for this game. Both groups will be excited to start a new year, and I'm not sure the Eagles are really getting enough points to give this value.