It’s a first round matchup in the NIT as the ACC meets up with Conference USA in the Bluegrass State. The fifth-seeded Boston College Eagles are on the road as they square off with the fourth-seeded Western Kentucky Hilltoppers Tuesday night. Boston College was knocked off 90-82 by #19 Clemson in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals Thursday. Western Kentucky fell 67-66 to Marshall in the Conference USA tournament title game Saturday. The Hilltoppers won the only previous matchup between the schools, taking a 74-68 win on the road on December 29, 1982.
Boston College Eagles Seek 20th Win of Season
Boston College won a pair of games in the ACC Tournament, including a second-round upset of NC State, but ran out of steam against Clemson. The Eagles finished the regular season 19-15 overall and 7-11 in conference play. Boston College trailed by seven at the half and by 16 with under 14 minutes to go: they cut the lead to two with 5:46 to play but ran out of steam. The Eagles shot 40.7 percent from the field and knocked down 12 of 33 three point attempts in addition to 22 of 30 free throw attempts. Ky Bowman had 23 points and eight boards to lead Boston College.
The Eagles are above average on the offensive end as they come in 90th in scoring offense with 76.8 points per game. Boston College is tied for 90th in rebounding with 37.1 boards a contest and 126th by dishing out 14.3 assists a game. The Eagles are above average defensively, ranking 231st in scoring defense as they allow 74.4 points a night. Boston College is connecting on 45.2 percent of their attempts from the floor. The Eagles knock down 8.7 triples a night while shooting 36.2 percent from beyond the arc. Boston College is converting 73.9 percent of their chances at the free throw line this season. Ky Bowman is second on the team with 17.6 points plus 6.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists a game for Boston College this season. Jerome Robinson is adding a team high 20.8 points a night, Jordan Chatman (13.1 points) and Deondre Hawkins (12.4 points, 9.1 rebounds) each score in double figures as well. Hawkins is done for the year after injuring his knee back on November 29 against Nebraska. Nik Popovic and Steffon Mitchell are the only other players putting up at least three points a contest.
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers Try to Make Most of NIT Appearance
Western Kentucky battled tooth and nail with Marshall but fell a point short of the win in the tournament title game and the automatic bid in March Madness. The Hilltoppers, who finished the season 24-10 overall and 14-4 in conference play, will try to make their NIT appearance memorable. Western Kentucky was down three at the half and trailed by 10 with 3:26 to play: they reeled off a 9-0 run to make it a one point game but neither team scored over the final 1:06 to leave them one point short. The Hilltoppers shot 35.5 percent from the field and connected on five of 16 three point attempts while controlling the glass by a 47-37 margin. Justin Johnson had 21 points and 12 rebounds to lead Western Kentucky in the loss.
The Hilltoppers have been good offensively so far as they are 63rd in the nation in scoring offense with an average of 78.4 points per game. Western Kentucky is tied for 162nd in rebounding with 35.7 boards per contest and tied for 182nd in assists with 13.5 a night. The Hilltoppers have been above average on the defensive end of the floor. The team comes into this one 116th in the nation as they allow 70.1 points per game. Darius Thompson is second on the team with 14 points plus 4.8 assists per game. Dwight Coleby adds 11 points plus 7.9 rebounds per contest, Lamonte Bearden chips 11.6 points a night while Taveion Hollingsworth contributes 13.1 points per game. Justin Johnson (team high 15.3 points, 9.6 rebounds) and Jake Ohmer (5.8 points) are solid contributors for Western Kentucky this season. The Hilltoppers are shooting 49.3 percent from the floor as a team. Western Kentucky splashes 5.4 three pointers a game while shooting 35.5 percent from beyond the arc. The Hilltoppers are converting only 71 percent of their free throw attempts.
- Eagles are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 non-conference games
- Hilltoppers are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 non-conference games
- Hilltoppers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 vs. Atlantic Coast
Boston College had a solid run in the ACC Tournament, defeating Georgia Tech and NC State before giving Clemson a run for their money with a solid second half rally. The problem for the Eagles here is one that has plagued them all season: location. Boston College won 14 of their games at home this season: as the road team, they were just 2-10. Western Kentucky is 13-3 at home: even being a mid-major program, you can’t overlook the Eagles’ road struggles. Look for the Hilltoppers to advance in this contest.