The Boston College Eagles are set to begin their 2020-21 season against the #3 Villanova Wildcats on Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. as part of the 2K Empire Classic at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. BC has one of the most difficult schedules in college basketball and they will have a very tough test right away, facing a very talented Villanova team.
This will be the 78th meeting between the two schools with a majority of those meetings coming back in the days when the Eagles were in the Big East. BC is 24-53 all time with Villanova winning the last meeting in a thrilling 60-59 OT victory in the Sweet 16 of the 2006 NCAA Tournament. In this unique season amid the COVID-19 pandemic, this will snap a 6-year streak of hosting season openers for BC. The start of the season will be absolutely crucial for the Eagles with their opening four games all taking place at Mohegan Sun Arena with another game in the 2K Empire Classic on Thursday and a pair of games next week against St. John’s and Missouri.
BC are coming off a 2019-20 season in which they finished with a record of 13-19 and have failed to manage a winning season since 2017-18. Realistically speaking, the expectations can’t be that high for this team considering they are in the ACC and put together a very ambitious out of conference schedule. With that being said, there is really nothing to lose for a team that could very well be overlooked by some of their superior opponents.
There are some names to look out for on BC this season. First off, it would be a mistake not to bring up Steffon Mitchell. The veteran All-ACC and ACC All-Defensive team selection last season prepares for his fourth season. He averaged 7.8 points. 8.7 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 2.2 steals, and 1 block last season. He was one of just six players in the nation to lead his team in both blocks and steals. Mitchell’s intelligence, work ethic, and unselfishness is what makes him such a fun player to watch and is very influential as a leader of BC.
Jay Heath is coming off an impressive freshman year in a season where he led the team in scoring, averaging 13.1 points per game. He had 65 3-pointers in 31 games, a freshmen record at BC. He also reached double figures in points 26 times including the last 15 games of the season. The future of Heath’s college career is definitely bright considering how well he did last year.
It has been 676 days since Wynston Tabbs played a game. He suffered an injury that forced him to have knee injury and miss the entire 2019-20 season. He averaged nearly 14 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists in 15 games for BC in his freshmen year prior to injury. He was considered one of the best young guards in the country and while it has been a long road to recovery for Tabbs, if he can get back to where he was before suffering his knee injury, then that would be a huge gain for the Eagles.
There are also a number of transfers that are set to make impactful contributions. Rich Kelly and Frederick Scott are set to make an immediate impact for BC. Kelly, from Quinnipiac, averaged 16.7 points, 4.5 assists and 2.2 rebounds per game last season. Scott, from Rider, averaged 12.6 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 1.4 assists last year. Makai Ashton-Langford, from nearby Worcester, Massachusetts, will be able to play for BC for the first time after transferring from Providence last year but having to sit out the 2019-20 season with BC due to NCAA transfer regulations. He appeared in 63 games for the Friars from 2017-19 and his career-high in scoring fittingly came against Villanova when he scored 20 points and was a perfect 4-4 from behind the arc.
While Boston College has been underwhelming over the majority of the last decade or so, this team was unsure if there would even be a season a short while ago and head coach Jim Christian made it clear based on their non-conference schedule that since they are fortunate enough to be having a season, he wants his team to face as many perennial contenders as possible and see if his team are up for the challenge. There is a variety of veteran and incoming talent on this team and it remains to be seen if they can gel together in order to potentially compete with some of the top teams in the country. The schedule is the exact opposite of easy and the test will be a tough one immediately when they face #3 Villanova in their very first game of the season Wednesday night.