I honestly thought Boston College would be better this season. I’m pretty sure I can’t think that way anymore. The opening-night loss to Nicholls State could be semi-forgiven if you thought it was just the jitters of starting the season against an unknown opponent.
The loss this past Friday night to Hartford was inexcusable. Hartford was 2-8 coming into the game and should have presented an opportunity for BC to start gaining confidence and meshing as a team. Heck, that’s why you put a game like that on the schedule.
I attended the BC-Harvard game last week; it was a 74-66 loss, but the game wasn’t that close. Harvard seemed to lose interest after building a big lead. The atmosphere in Conte Forum was dismal.
Now, I’m not sure what’s going to happen. I have to wonder which way the Eagles are going to go: Grind out some improvement or swiftly allow the whole season to fall apart. It restarts tonight against Auburn in Madison Square Garden. Auburn is coached by BC grad Bruce Pearl; the Tigers are young, talented, and erratic. My early-season thought would have been that this is a possible victory for BC. Now, I don’t think so.
The ACC is the best basketball conference in the country, and there will be only a few opportunities for the Eagles to end their conference losing streak, which is at 20 games. They were winless in the ACC last season, and the harsh reality right now is that it might happen again.
ELEVATOR GOING UP
Arkansas Little Rock: The Trojans could show up in March in your bracket. They’ve won five in a row, and this is with a lot of the same players who upset Purdue in the first round of last season’s NCAA Tournament.
Florida State: After a big win over Florida Sunday, the Seminoles have won six in a row and are 10-1. This is a tough unit that will play stingy defense, like all of Leonard Hamilton’s teams. Just another measure of how good the ACC is.
Louisiana: The Ragin’ Cajuns have won eight in a row; it might not bring back memories of the Bo Lamar days in the early ’70s, but they might be a factor in the Sun Belt.
Middle Tennessee: The Blue Raiders blasted Vanderbilt, 71-48, last week as Sully’s Court favorite Giddy Potts scored 27. It was their second victory over an SEC team this season, as they also beat Mississippi. They’re 9-1, have won seven straight, and are off to the fourth-best start in school history, the best since opening 12-1 in 1980-81. The only loss was to another Sully’s Court favorite, Tennessee State (which nearly upset North Carolina State on Saturday).
North Carolina Wilmington: The Seahawks have four starters back from an NCAA team, and it’s looking like they might get back there again as they’ve started the season 8-1, including a nice road win at St. Bonaventure Saturday.
Oakland: These are the Grizzlies from Michigan, and their coach, Greg Kampe, has 558 victories. He lost his best player, guard Kay Felder, to the NBA, but his team is 9-1, the best start since the school moved up to Division 1 in 1999.
San Francisco: The Dons have been in the doldrums for a long time, but first-year coach Kyle Smith, who came from Columbia, has them off to a 7-1 start, their best since 1999-2000. That’s not the best thing that happened this season. That would be the Dons playing a game at Kezar Pavilion for the first time since 1958. Yes, that’s where Bill Russell played.
ESCALATOR GOING DOWN
Detroit: The Titans used to be decent, contenders in the Horizon League. Not this season. After losing to a 4-6 Bowling Green unit, they fell to 1-8.
Drake: Things are bad in Des Moines, where the Bulldogs are 1-8 with the only victory over Simpson College. There have been tough losses (2 points to DePaul, 2 points in overtime to Fresno), but they also finished last in the Great Alaska Shootout and lost to Jackson State Saturday. Things have been so bad that coach Ray Giacoletti resigned.
Oral Roberts: The Golden Eagles got a victory Saturday over John Brown, but that’s not indicative of the type of season that’s been unfolding in Tulsa. Getting beaten at Oklahoma, 92-66, is a better reflection. At that point, they were 1-8, their worst start since 1987-88, when they finished with just eight wins.
St. John’s: This week’s bad loss: LIU Brooklyn. I’m considering giving St. John’s permanent residence in this area.
San Diego State: There are no Kawhi Leonards on the roster this season. The Aztecs had a horrible week, losing at Grand Canyon, 76-72, then returning home to get beaten by Arizona State, 74-63. “This is not what I’m used to,” said coach Steve Fisher. “This is not what our program is used to.’’
Stephen F. Austin: With coach Brad Underwood gone to Oklahoma State, the magic is gone. The Lumberjacks, who won an NCAA Tournament game last season, have lost four of their last five, are 3-5 overall, and even had their 31-game home-court winning streak snapped.
Washington: The Huskies have one of the best freshmen in the country in guard Markelle Fultz; some think he could be the top pick in the 2017 NBA draft. He is averaging 23.0 points per game, but it’s just not enough. The Huskies got thundered by Gonzaga, 98-71, last week, and it wasn’t that close.
Rob Dauster of NBCsports.com uncovered this fact last week: Only three coaches in Power 5 conferences have missed the NCAA Tournament five straight years in their present jobs: Brad Brownell of Clemson, Pat Chambers of Penn State, and Lorenzo Romar of Washington.
It sure looks as though Romar is going to hit six seasons. He had two NBA draft choices in 2016, he’ll have Fultz in 2017, and he has a commitment from one of the top high school players, Michael Porter Jr. Not sure it matters.
THIS WEEK’S FINAL FOUR: Duke, Kansas, North Carolina, Villanova.
Saint Mary’s gets tossed after losing to Texas Arlington, 65-51, at home. The Gaels had an awful shooting night and it cost them. Arlington also won at Texas this season; the win over No. 12 Saint Mary’s was the first over a top 25 team in program history.
THIS WEEK’S NATIONAL CHAMPION: North CarolinaJoe Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeSullivan