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Louisville vs. Boston College basketball preview: Cards look to avoid letdown

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Four days after a 21-point win at North Carolina, Louisville will look to avoid a letdown against a Boston College team that’s 0-3 in league play.

Louisville Cardinals (11-5, 2-1) vs. Boston College Eagles (9-6, 0-3)

Game Time: 7:05 p.m.

Location: KFC Yum Center: Louisville, Ky.

Television: Regional Sports Network/Fox Sports South in Louisville

Announcers: Wes Durham (play-by-play) and Mike Gminski (analyst)

Officials: Brian O’Connell, Pat Driscoll, Doug Sirmons

Favorite: Louisville by 11

Series: Louisville leads, 6-3

Last Meeting: Louisville won 77-69 on Jan. 21, 2018 in Louisville

Series History:

Probable Starting Lineups:

Statistics:

Relevant Videos:

About Boston College:

At 0-3, Boston College enters Wednesday night’s game at Louisville as one of only two teams in the ACC still without a conference win. The 9-6 Eagles have lost four straight games overall, the most recent being a narrow 69-66 defeat at Notre Dame last weekend.

BC is led by one of the best overall players in college basketball in guard Ky Bowman. The 6’1 junior is the only player in the country averaging at least 20.3 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.5 steals, and 0.7 blocks per game. No Division-I player in the last 26 years has finished a season with those numbers. Memphis State’s Penny Hardaway in 1992-93 was the last to do it. Bowman is second in the ACC in scoring, and second in the nation in minutes played.

Finding adequate support for his superstar has been the primary issue for BC head coach Jim Christian. Freshman guard Wynston Tabbs has been a solid addition, ranking second on the team in scoring at 14.1 ppg. Unfortunately for the Eagles, Christian announced Wednesday morning that Tabbs will miss the Louisville game because of a knee injury.

Junior forward Nik Popovic has been BC’s most consistent player outside of Bowman. The native of Bosnia & Herzegovina has scored in double figures in every game but one, entering Wednesday with averages of 13.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game.

Senior guard Jordan Chatman, a starter in all three of his seasons at BC, is having a solid, if not spectacular final collegiate season. Both his scoring average (12.9 to 12.1 ppg) and three-point shooting percentage (41.5 percent to 37.3 percent) are down slightly from last season to this one, and he’s scored seven or fewer points in three of the four games during the Eagles’ current losing streak. Still, Chatman is a capable outside shooter who has the potential to go off on any given night, and he’s never scored outside of double figures in his career against the Cards.

Despite having a solid amount of offensive talent, things just haven’t clicked for Boston College offensively the way many believed they would heading into the season. The Eagles are 165th in the country in scoring average and No. 137 in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted offensive efficiency rankings. They get to the free-throw line almost as well as Louisville does (No. 21 in the country), but haven’t been able to get anything going from the perimeter. Entering Wednesday’s game, Boston College is shooting just 30.3 percent from beyond the arc, good for the 312th-best mark in D-I.

BC’s defense has been slightly better, currently ranking 112th on Ken Pom. Like Louisville, the Eagles don’t force many turnovers, but rely on limiting their opponents’ field goal percentage and second chance opportunities. Teams are shooting just 31.2 percent from three (61st-best) and 47.3 percent from the field (70th-best) against Christian’s team.

STRENGTHS: Having Ky Bowman, getting to the free-throw line, holding opponents to low shooting percentages, not allowing steals, not getting shots blocked.

WEAKNESSES: Outside shooting, lack of interior presence, forcing turnovers, free-throw shooting percentage, allowing offensive rebounds, having adequate talent to surround Bowman.

Notable:

—Louisville owns a five-game winning streak against Boston College and is 4-0 against the Eagles since joining the ACC.

—Louisville is seventh in the nation in free throw attempts per field goal attempts (421/907, 46.4 percent) and is sixth in the nation with 24.8 percent of its points coming from free throws.

—BC’s Ky Bowman is the only player in the country averaging at least 20.3 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.5 steals, and 0.7 blocks per game.

In his last five games, Christen Cunningham has shot 69.8 percent from the field -- including 64.3 percent from the three-point line (9-of-14) -- while averaging 13.1 points and 4.0 assists.

—These two teams will play again in Chestnut Hill on Feb. 27.

—This will be Chris Mack’s first game against Boston College as a head coach.

—BC’s Ky Bowman currently ranked second in the ACC in scoring and second in the nation in minutes played.

—Bowman is the only player in the ACC besides Duke’s Zion Williamson to rank among the league’s top six in scoring (3rd, 20.3) and rebounding (6th, 8.0).

—Louisville is 10-0 this season when shooting a better percentage from the field than its opponent.

—Two sons of former notable NBA players are on Boston College’s roster — sophomore forward Vin Baker Jr. and freshman guard Chris Herren Jr.

—Louisville has won 148 consecutive games when scoring at least 85 points in regulation.

—Louisville is one of just four schools which have won 20 or more games on the court in each of the last 16 seasons (also Kansas, Duke and Gonzaga).

Ken Pomeroy Prediction: Louisville 78, Boston College 66