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Cal Basketball

The BearInsider Scout: Cal vs Boston College

December 21, 2019
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As we wrote yesterday, the Bears (6-5) have a real opportunity to build some momentum heading into Pac-12 play starting with Saturday’s game against the Boston College Eagles (7-5) at the Chase Center as part of the Al Attles Classic. So far this season, the Eagles are 5-0 against teams ranked higher than 100 in KenPom and are 2-5 against teams ranked lower than 100 in KenPom’s standings.

The Eagles haven’t lost to any bad teams but lost to Richmond by 20 points and Northwestern by 18 points. Boston College is actually 2-0 in the Atlantic Coast Conference with solid wins over Wake Forest and Notre Dame.

While the two schools have only met twice ever, Cal fans might be familiar with Boston College’s leading scorer, Derryck Thornton, who is now at his third power conference school. Thornton started at Duke, transferred to USC, and is now a grad transfer at Boston College where he is leading the Eagles with 14.2 points per game. The 6-3 guard is also leading the team in assists with 3.9 per game.

Thornton runs the point for the Eagles the most, switching off with 6-3 freshman Jay Heath, who plays the majority of his time off the ball as a combo guard. The freshman is second on the team with 13 points per game. Up front the Eagles are led by Steffon Mitchell who leads the team with 9.2 rebounds per game. 

The Bears are playing the Eagles at a fortunate time as 6-11 senior center Nik Popovic was recently sidelined with a back injury. The guy is massive and was averaging about 12 points per game before the injury.

When Cal has the Ball

Stat Cal Boston College
Adj. Eff. 100.2 (182) 95.0 (77)
Avg. Poss. Length 18.8 (311) 16.5 (53)
Eff. FG% 51.6% (95) 47.2% (112)
TO% 19.9% (202) 24.3% (21)
Off. Reb. % 22.9% (302) 29.9% (237)
FTA/FGA 37.9% (67) 27.8% (101)
3P% 40.7% (9) 32.8% (173)
2P% 48.2% (211) 45.8% (87)
FT% 73.6% (80) 69.9% (181)
Block% 7.8% (115) 8.2% (186)
Steal% 5.4% (2) 12.7% (17)
Non-Stl TO% 14.5% (346) 11.6% (83)

Boston College doesn’t score a lot of points, but it has a solid defense, ranked No. 77 in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency measure. In its 12 games on the season, Boston College has only given up 80 points or more twice. In particular, the Eagles do a good job of turning teams over and have an opponent turnover percentage of 24.3%, which is 21st in the nation, according to KenPom. Cal is the second-best team in the country at preventing steals. Boston College is 17th at creating steals. It’ll be interesting to see which team is able to stick to its season’s current trend.

When Boston College has the Ball

Stat Boston College Cal
Adj. Eff. 97.7 (228) 101.6 (191)
Avg. Poss. Length 16.8 (128) 17.9 (292)
Eff. FG% 47.6% (239) 48.1% (136)
TO% 20.2% (217) 16.8% (307)
Off. Reb. % 24.7% (268) 30.5% (260)
FTA/FGA 29.5% (226) 29.2% (128)
3P% 32.1% (211) 36.8% (304)
2P% 47.2% (237) 43.7% (47)
FT% 67.5% (241) 77.4% (337)
Block% 7.0% (57) 7.4% (212)
Steal% 10.1% (257) 6.0% (346)
Non-Stl TO% 10.0% (145) 10.9% (141)

Boston College doesn’t do much well on the offensive side of the ball. It doesn’t shoot great, doesn’t get a lot of offensive rebounds, doesn’t get to the free-throw line a lot and turns the ball over at a decent clip. This should be a game where Cal is able to assert its defensive presence and maybe build some momentum on that side of the ball where it has struggled a bit recently.

Keys to the Game:

Turnovers

Cal has been a bit all over the place with turnovers this season. After a string of games with double-digit turnover totals, Cal has really done well at valuing the basketball the past two games only turning it over six times against Fresno State and eight times against St. Mary’s. Whichever team holds onto the ball will likely have a significant advantage in Saturday’s game.

Three-point shot and perimeter defense

The Bears are a top-ten three-point shooting team percentage-wise. The issue is Cal is 347th in three-point field goal to field goal attempts. Meaning, only six teams in the country shoot less three-point shots to field goal attempts. The Bears should jack up some more threes. Meanwhile, Cal’s perimeter defense has left quite a bit to be desired. It’d be good to see some better three-point defense in Saturday’s game.

Free throws

The Bears have been good at getting to the line. If the three-point shot isn’t falling (like it hasn’t outside of Haas Pavilion), Matt Bradley, Kareem South, and others should attack the rim.

Frontcourt

Cal might actually not be at a huge frontcourt disadvantage today! Let’s see them pack the paint.

KenPom says ... Boston College - 67, Cal - 66 (BC win chance 54%)

This is virtually a tossup. Go Bear!

Discussion from...

The BearInsider Scout: Cal vs Boston College

704 Views | 2 Replies | Last: 1 mo ago by Big Dog
bearister
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" The Bears are a top-ten three-point shooting team percentage-wise. The issue is Cal is 347th in three-point field goal to field goal attempts. Meaning, only six teams in the country shoot less three-point shots to field goal attempts. The Bears should jack up some more threes."

Bradley, South and Anticevich should be told to shoot at least 4 to 5 treys a game if it's a good look and more if they get hot.
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Big Dog
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"The Bears have been good at getting to the line."

Yeah, but they don't make 'em when they do get to the line. Ranked in mid-70's in FT % (which will go down after today).
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