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men's college basketball notebook

In local men’s college basketball, there are two sides to every team

DeMarr Langford's BC team is 6-7 overall, 1-2 in the ACC.Gerry Broome

At this point in the men’s college basketball season, it’s become clear what kind of year it’s going to be for fans of a specific team.

There are two types of fans, of course. There are those thinking positively, some naively envisioning mediocre teams winning conference championships. Then there are those that think negatively, some who can identify the poor statistic after a 20-point victory. You know who you are.

So for both groups, here’s a guide for each Massachusetts team — reasons to feel optimistic and reasons to face the reality of pessimism.

Boston College

Optimism: It’s subtle, but the Eagles have become, statistically at least, a decent defensive team. They’ve outscored and outrebounded their opponents while holding them to 44 percent shooting. You should feel good about the potential of DeMarr Langford and freshman guard Jaeden Zackery. And remember, the ACC is really overrated.

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Pessimism: The best solution for the frontcourt is whatever recruiting coach Earl Grant can do to upgrade for next season. You should hope he has notifications from the transfer portal on his cell phone, because the solution is not on this roster. The ACC may be down but the BC roster still suffers in comparison with the majority of the league. Plus, the Eagles have lost 15 straight on the road.

UMass

Optimism: The Minutemen are a good team when playing at home in the Calipari Center, despite Saturday’s surprising loss to Duquesne. There are eight home games left. Also, point guard Noah Fernandes has exceeded all expectations; he’s become an outstanding player and could be in Amherst for two more seasons.

Pessimism: Young players like Javohn Garcia and T.J. Weeks have failed to develop. Those two seemed to have potential but neither has become a reliable player. That has led to an undue reliance on transfers who are not a long-term solution. It sets up a situation where coach Matt McCall will have to constantly rebuild. The Minutemen are not a good defensive team and they haven’t shown enough exceptional offense to simply outscore opponents.

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Harvard

Optimism: This is still a talented group led by two veteran players, Noah Kirkwood and Chris Ledlum. Both are all-league caliber. No Ivy League team has shown it’s measurably better than Harvard either.

Noah Kirkwood has had a solid start to the season for the Crimson.Phelan M. Ebenhack/FR121174 AP via AP

Pessimism: The loss to Brown last Friday displayed a team not committed to the type of defense a normal Tommy Amaker team plays. The younger players haven’t shown they can be dependable.

Boston University

Optimism: The Terriers should win the Patriot League regular-season and tournament titles to move on to the NCAA Tournament. It’s not unrealistic to think they could win a first-round game. They are a veteran team that has experience in big-game situations.

Pessimism: How do you explain a home loss to Loyola of Maryland as the Terriers struggled on offense? How do you explain allowing Navy to scored 17 consecutive points as the Terriers struggled on defense in a road loss? Sometimes the Terriers lack toughness; they need to solve that to reach their full potential.

Northeastern

Optimism: This can be said with certainty: With a healthy, full squad, the Huskies are one of the best teams in the CAA. Shaq Walters gives them a steady, veteran presence that will pay dividends in important games. Transfer guard Tyreek Scott-Grayson has finally overcome injury and looks like a player that fits a need.

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Bill Coen and the Huskies have started the season 6-9.Robert Willett/Associated Press

Pessimism: This team keeps colliding with injury and illness problems. That also affects chemistry. Even if they do get healthy, have they played together enough to be a threat to win the CAA? Realistically, they lack a consistent ballhandler and playmaker.

Holy Cross

Optimism: Gerrale Gates is an All-Patriot League first-teamer and freshman guard Kyrell Luc is having a great first season.

Pessimism: This team isn’t talented enough yet to compete in the Patriot League. They need better players. Coach Brett Nelson’s most important job is still recruiting, both high school players and potential transfers.

UMass Lowell

Optimism: Keep in mind that this is the most talented team coach Pat Duquette has had and that it was able to win at Dayton and George Washington.

Pessimism: The losses to Binghamton and NJIT were really strange. Suddenly, the River Hawks seems to have lost their cohesiveness. They need to get it back, and that might have happened in a second-half rally at UMBC.

Merrimack

Optimism: Starting conference play has really helped; the Warriors are still one of the better teams in the NEC. For certain, big man Jordan Minor is one of the best players in the league. And there’s that zone, still annoying after all these years.

Jordan Minor and Merrimack are 8-8 through 16 games.Young Kwak/Associated Press

Pessimism: The Warriors are still not a great offensive team. They connect on only 39 percent of their shots.

Joe Sullivan can be reached at josephsullivan1974@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeTwitter.

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