Boston College at Western Kentucky
Where: E. A. Diddle Arena, Bowling Green, Kentucky
BOWLING GREEN (KY) – Boston College makes its first appearance in a national postseason tournament since 2011 when the Eagles begin play in the NIT on Tuesday night at Western Kentucky. Boston College, the fifth seed in its region, won two games before losing to Clemson in the ACC quarterfinals while fourth-seeded Western Kentucky lost 67-66 to Marshall in the Conference USA Championship game last week.
The Eagles are led by one of the top backcourt duos in the country in 6-6 junior Jerome Robinson and 6-1 sophomore Ky Bowman, who average 38.4 points and 8.2 assists combined. Robinson was second in the ACC in scoring (20.8) and Bowman provided 23.6 points per contest in the last five games to push his season mark to 17.6, and adds 6.8 rebounds along with a team-high 4.8 assists. Western Kentucky beat Purdue and gave Villanova trouble in a 66-58 loss early in the season en route to 24 wins, the most for the Hilltoppers since 2008-09 when they won a game in the NCAA Tournament. The Hilltoppers boast five players averaging double-figure points – three of them seniors – and make their first appearance in the NIT since 2005-06.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, ESPN3
ABOUT BOSTON COLLEGE (19-15): The three-pronged backcourt of Robinson, Bowman and junior Jordan Chatman (13.1) all average more than 35 minutes per game and combine for 246 makes from 3-point range. Sophomore forward Nik Popovic, who averages 9.9 points and 6.2 rebounds on the season, had an outstanding ACC Tournament while draining 17-of-28 from the field and scoring 14.7 per game. Freshman forward Steffon Mitchell (6.3 points) is the team’s leading active rebounder (8.2) and has averaged 11.7 boards in the past three games.
ABOUT WESTERN KENTUCKY (24-10): Conference USA first-team pick Justin Johnson, a 6-7 senior forward, tops the team in scoring (15.3), rebounds (9.6) and shoots 51.1 percent from the field – averaging 19.3 points the last four contests. Senior guard Darius Thompson (14.0 points, 4.8 assists) is playing for his third school and freshman guard Taveion Hollingsworth averages 13.1 points, but went 0-for-5 against Marshall last week. Senior forward Dwight Coleby (11 points, 7.9 rebounds) is another Hilltopper playing for his third school.
1. The winner plays top seed USC or eighth-seeded UNC-Asheville in the second round.
2. The Eagles are 17-12 all-time in the NIT and Western Kentucky is 9-14.
3. The Hilltoppers won the only other meeting 74-68 in the Cotton States Classic in Atlanta on Dec. 29, 1982.