Chapel Hill, N.C. -- Dean E. Smith Center
Wednesday, 9 p.m., Raycom/Jefferson-Pilot (Tim Brando, Billy Packer)
"[The Eagles are] one of the more experienced teams in the league. I think four of those kids started for them last year when they made that [great] start. They're a big-time basketball team and it'll be a big challenge for us." -- Roy Williams
"We've got North Carolina next and we're really excited for that one and we'll try to go there and get the win." -- Craig Smith
"North Carolina was the place I always wanted to go when I was growing up. I always loved North Carolina and hated Duke. It's going to be a dream getting a chance to play in Chapel Hill." -- Jared Dudley
"We're still trying to get our heads above water [in the ACC]. We're not at that point yet, so we're trying to get ourselves at least back to .500." -- Al Skinner
What's Wrong?: The Eagles, which were ranked in the Top 10 earlier in the season, opened their first run in the ACC with three straight losses. This is virtually the same team that at one point was 20-0 and ranked No. 4 in the nation last season, so it was surprising to see Boston College at the bottom of the standings after losses to Maryland, Georgia Tech and NC State. The simple answer is that the Eagles lost those games because of poor shooting -- 33% from the free throw line at Maryland, an 11-minute field-goal drought at Georgia Tech and then 32% from the field against NC State. "My concentration is more on our style of play and how we're going to perform," said coach Al Skinner. "In a couple of our earlier [conference] games, we did not perform the way we needed to in order to be successful."
Deadly Duo: BC is led by Craig Smith and Jared Dudley, both of which were named first-team All-Big East last season. Smith is the bruising, yet agile 6-7, 250-pound low post presence. He leads the Eagles in scoring (17.7), rebounding (8.6), field goal percentage (57.8%) and blocks - he's even tied for the team-high in steals. Smith earned ACC Co-Player of the Week honors for averaging 18.5 points and 15.5 rebounds in Boston College's last two games. Dudley is a versatile inside-out 6-7 forward who attacks the hoop (16.7 ppg) and hits the boards (7.2 rpg). He's the guy the Eagles turn to when they need a big play.
Experience: As Roy Williams noted in the "Quotables" section above, there are few teams in the NCAA who have a more experienced starting lineup than Boston College. The Eagles starting five have played in a combined 408 collegiate games, with 395 starts. By comparison, North Carolina's starting lineup Wednesday will have a combined 81 career starts.
Recent Addition: It was frequently written about nationally, especially in the preseason, that the Eagles would receive a big boost when Sean Williams returned to the lineup. The 6-10 sophomore made the Big East all-rookie team last season and set a school record for blocked shots, but was suspended for the first nine games of this season for an offseason arrest. Thus far, he hasn't made the type of impact that was expected - with 2.9 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in only 13.9 minutes per game. In other words, he's due for a breakout performance.
Relying on the Three: Perhaps part of the reason for the Eagles' inconsistency this season has been their greater reliance on the three-point shot. Boston College has made 105 three-point field goals in 18 games this season, an average of 5.8 per game. Last year, the Eagles had made 57 three-pointers through 18 games. Sean Marshall, BC's 6-7 shooting guard, is the team's top perimeter shooter at 43.9 percent on three pointers, while freshman reserve guard Tyrese Rice is leading the team in long-range attempts and shooting at a 39.1 percent clip.
Series History: This will be Carolina's first game against Boston College since the Eagles joined the Atlantic Coast Conference. UNC leads the all-time series with BC, 2-1. All three meetings prior to Wednesday night have come in NCAA Tournament play at neutral sites. On March 18, 1967, Carolina defeated Boston College 96-80 in the NCAA East Regional Final at Cole Field House in College Park, Md. On March 22, 1975, the Tar Heels beat the Eagles 110-90 in the NCAA East Regional third place game in Providence, R.I. On March 20, 1994, BC beat No. 1-ranked and defending NCAA champion Carolina 75-72 in the NCAA East Regional second round in Landover, Md. (Provided by UNC Athletic Communications)
Projected Starters: 11 Louis Hinnant (6-4, 190, Sr.) – 6.6 ppg, 4.4 apg 23 Sean Marshall (6-6, 212, Jr.) – 12.6 ppg, 3.9 rpg 3 Jared Dudley (6-7, 225, Jr.) – 16.7 ppg, 7.2 rpg 1 Craig Smith (6-7, 250, Sr.) – 17.7 ppg, 8.6 rpg 32 John Oates (6-10, 255, So.) - 3.6 ppg, 3.1 rpg Key Reserves: 4 Tyrese Rice (6-0, 183, Fr.) – 9.6 ppg, 2.7 apg 5 Akida McLain (6-8, 220, So.) - 6.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg 00 Marquez Haynes (6-3, 185, Fr.) – 3.0 ppg 51 Sean Williams (6-10, 230, So.) – 2.9 ppg, 2.9 rpg
Smith ... Dudley
Hinnant ... Marshall
Rice ... Williams