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Monday, January 24, 2011
BC's brilliant attack matched by awful D

By Eamonn Brennan

There are a lot of weird tempo-free things happening in college hoops this season. Pittsburgh, a team traditionally known for its defense and rebounding, has the most high-flying offense in the country. Maryland, an underrated team that won with offense in 2010, is, go figure, an underrated team team winning with defense in 2011. North Carolina pushes the pace more than any major-conference team, but its real strength is defense. That's one of the great things about advanced stats and college basketball in general. The more you look for these sorts of quirks, the more you'll eventually find.

Still, even if you dig deep into every team in the nation, I'm not sure you'll find a statistical entity stranger than Boston College. Led by star guard Reggie Jackson, the Eagles are one of the best offenses in the nation according to Pomeroy. They also boast one of its worst defenses. This is something the Eagles have been doing all season long under new coach Steve Donahue, but only today did one of the big brains at Harvard Sports Analysis, John Ezekowitz, decide to see where the Eagles' crazy one-sidedness ranks all-time. John's finding:
Of the teams with the most efficient college basketball offenses of the tempo-free era, Boston College has the least efficient defense, and it is not even close. In fact, the only team within shouting distance is the memorable 2006 Gonzaga Bulldogs, led by Player of the Year candidate Adam Morrison. This is the Gonzaga team whose style of play Pomeroy has (famously?) said “broke my rankings.”

If you like your basketball with efficient scoring from both teams, be sure to catch a Boston College game at some point in the next two months. We may never see a confluence of such efficient offense and terrible defense on one team again.

Yes, the Eagles will always be worth a watch. You could also argue they'll be one of the toughest teams to predict for throughout the rest of the season. Because of that huge statistical disparity, all it takes is a surprisingly good defensive night -- or a surprisingly bad offensive one -- to carry the Eagles to upset wins or doom them to disappointing losses. In one game, anything can happen. And when your baseline performance on both ends of the floor varies so widely, you're bound to make some noise.

So, yes, if you like efficient offense, check out the Eagles. Check out their opponents. And brace yourself for all contingencies. It should be an interesting few months.