Colleges

JOE SULLIVAN | COLLEGE BASKETBALL

BC got off on the right foot with a pair of victories

Chestnut Hill, MA - 11/03/2017 - Boston College Eagles head coach Jim Christian at Boston College basketball media day. - (Barry Chin/Globe Staff), Section: Sports, Reporter: Unknown, Topic: 03BC basketball media day, LOID: 8.3.4206000830.
barry chin/globe staff
Jim Christian’s Eagles defeated Maine and South Carolina State over the weekend.

Boston College coach Jim Christian was a guest on the Globe’s podcast, Season Ticket, last Thursday, and when I told him I thought his team could win 16 games, I assumed he’d be happy with that.

“I hope you’re wrong,’’ he said.

He has high hopes. Higher than I do.

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The Eagles opened with two victories over the weekend, beating Maine, 85-65, and South Carolina State, 91-52. Of course, the competition wasn’t great, but don’t forget the Eagles lost to Nicholls State in last season’s opener. They won these games as a good team should, and that hasn’t happened in the last few years.

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There is no doubt that this is the best team Christian has had at BC. On the podcast, he said his backcourt of Jerome Robinson and Ky Bowman was one of the best in the country.

He also told you about freshman Steffon Mitchell, who had 21 points against South Carolina State. (See what you’re missing? You need to listen.)

I’m not getting carried away; I still think 16 victories is optimistic, but I am impressed by the two big wins.

Some other opening weekend observations:

  Utah Valley State (yes, it is a Division 1 program, in Orem, Utah, which is not far from Salt Lake City) had perhaps the most challenging road trip in college basketball history over the weekend, playing Kentucky and Duke on consecutive nights. The Wolverines actually hung tough for a while with Kentucky before losing, 73-63, but then were crushed at Duke, 99-69. Things get easier when they play Idaho State Tuesday night.

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  Official decree: Duke will now be known as “Southeastern Kentucky” in Sully’s Court. Mike Krzyzewski’s player-procurement methods are just like John Calipari’s.

  Creighton’s Marcus Foster is poised to have an All-American season. He looked like a man among boys in the Bluejays’ victory over Yale Friday night, scoring 23 points while making 9 of 13 shots.

  At least on TV, DePaul’s new arena looks great. But it didn’t help them on the court as the Demons lost to Notre Dame, 72-58. The arena is near Soldier Field, so it’s still not on campus, but it is closer to the campus than the Demons’ old arena near O’Hare Airport. Most positively, for this game at least, fans actually showed up.

  The UMass-Harvard game wasn’t well-played but it was tight and exciting as Bryce Aiken hit a three at the buzzer to give Harvard a 70-67 victory. Luwane Pipkins made two amazing 3-pointers for UMass, one to send it to OT and the second to tie it at 67. By the way, a critical traveling call against Pipkins was not a good call.

  The SEC had a great weekend, going 13-0, but that includes two lackluster victories for Kentucky. The Playaz did not look great against Utah Valley or Vermont. They have some work to do.

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  Bad weekend for the Atlantic 10, with St. Bonaventure (playing without leading scorer Jaylen Adams) losing to Niagara; Saint Joseph’s getting smoked at Toledo; Richmond falling at home to Delaware; and Fordham losing at home to Miami of Ohio. There were a couple of near-misses, as Dayton held on to beat Ball State, 78-77, and George Mason just got past Lafayette, 67-65.

Looking back on the weekend in the usual format:

ELEVATOR GOING UP

Albany: Maybe it’s not a gigantic victory, but a 69-67 win over Iona is a nice win for the Great Danes and America East.

Delaware: The Blue Hens have lost 20 games in three straight seasons but things might be different this season considering their surprising victory at Richmond. I believe smart players make good coaches, and Martin Ingelsby was exactly that at Notre Dame. He’s in his second season at Delaware.

Missouri State: The Bears will be the team to beat in the Missouri Valley (since Wichita State left for the American) and they proved it with a nice road win at Western Kentucky.

Oakland: The Grizz will be one of the best low majors in the country, and they have an exciting individual in Kendrick Nunn, a 6-foot-3-inch guard who transferred from Illinois. Nunn had 36 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists in an easy win over Fort Wayne.

Texas A&M: Missing their best player, Robert Williams, and highly touted freshman point guard JJ Caldwell, the Aggies sent a clear message that they’re going to be tough this season by crushing West Virginia, 88-65.

ESCALATOR GOING DOWN

Indiana: Archie Miller can coach; he’ll succeed at Indiana . . . but what an awful start in his first game, as the Hoosiers lost to Indiana State, 90-69. Seems like some work on defense is required.

Richmond: Spidey has NCAA aspirations but it didn’t look like a tournament team when it fell behind by 33 to Delaware before a sellout home-court crowd. A late rally was too little too late in a 76-63 loss.

Tulsa: The Hurricane (it really should be Tornadoes, shouldn’t it?) dropped their home opener to Lamar. Not good for coach Frank Haith coming off a 15-17 season.

Wake Forest: Danny Manning has Wake headed in the right direction (it made the tournament for the first time in seven years last season) but he still has work to do based on the home-opening loss to Georgia Southern. Southern does have all five starters returning but was picked to finish fifth in Conference USA by the Blue Ribbon Yearbook.

West Virginia: The Mountaineers were ranked 11th in the preseason poll and then got run off the court by Texas A&M, 88-65, in Germany. They actually had a 13-point lead in the first half, plus the Aggies were without their best player, forward Robert Williams.

THIS WEEK’S FINAL FOUR: North Carolina, Arizona, Wichita State, Michigan State.

THIS WEEK’S NATIONAL CHAMPION: Arizona

Joe Sullivan can be reached at joseph.sullivan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeSullivan