Empire Classic: Boston College vs. #3 Villanova. Preview & Prediction

A look at tonight's tip off between the Eagles and Wildcats, including our grim prediction
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Boston College tips off the 2020-21 season tonight in the 2K Empire Classic as they face off with #3 Villanova. The game will be played at Bubbleville at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut. This is the 78th meeting between the two schools, with the Wildcats holding a 24-53 edge in the series. The two teams last played in the Sweet 16 in 2006 when Villanova won in the infamous Sean Williams "goaltending" game in overtime. 

Time: 9:30 pm
Where: Mohegan Sun, Uncasville, Connecticut
TV: ESPN
Radio: WEEI 850
Current Line: Villanova (-14)
ESPN Matchup Predictor: Villanova has a 83.7% chance of winning this game. 

Projected Staters: CJ Felder, Makai Ashton Langford, Jay Heath, Demarr Langford, Steffon Mitchell

Injuries: Andre Adams (out for the season with a lower leg injury)

Ken Pom Rating: Villanova (4), Boston College (86)

Player To Watch: Collin Gillespie

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Villanova is loaded with talent this season, with stars up and down their lineup, but none have the star potential of Collin Gillespie. Last season with the Wildcats, his scoring increased to 15.1 points per game up from 10 the season before. But it isn't just Gillespie's shooting that makes him so lethal. He is an elite ball distributor, who helps find open teammates. Per VUHoops.com:

"He tallied 4.5 assists per game and assisted on 26.4% of all VU field goals. Meanwhile, his turnover percentage dropped to 12.2% (from 13.9%). Gillespie created more points for teammates while turning the ball over less."

A potential Big East Player of the Year candidate, he is going to be a major challenge for whatever BC defender is on him. Slowing him down and forcing turnovers will be a major key to this game. 

Three Major Questions Heading Into This Game

1. What will BC look like? The Eagles lost three major contributors last year and have put a handful of transfers and freshman into potential big situations. Add in Wynston Tabbs, off a major surgery, and it will be very interesting to see how BC performs on all sides of the ball on Wednesday evening. 

2. Where will the scoring come from? Guard Jay Heath is the leading returning scorer, but questions abound after the guard. Where will BC find scoring from? Will Steffon Mitchell add more to his offensive side of his game? Or will Makai Ashton Langford or Demarr Langford become a consistent scorer.

3. How will BC hang with an elite team? This is a tough opening draw for the Eagles, but Jim Christian said that he believes this is the deepest team he has ever coached in Chestnut Hill. Villanova is an excellent team, one built to win national championships. Will this be a game like Duke last year, or will BC able to hang with the Wildcats. 

AJ's Fearless Prediction: Villanova is returning most of their starting lineup, and should be ready to resume where they left off last season when they finished 24-7. Boston College on the other hand, is going to probably have some growing pains as they figure out how to work together as a team in a big game situation. Would love to see the Eagles stick close in this game, but it's a really tough matchup. Villanova 78 Boston College 60