By: Matt Doherty
It’s hard to believe the college basketball season kicks off one week from today. But on Nov. 6, the Terriers will travel across the city to take on rival Northeastern in the season opener. The matchup against the Huskies will be one of the toughest games BU plays all season. Let’s break down the five best games of the non-conference schedule:
- @ Rutgers, November 23rd: The Terriers usually have at least one opportunity each season to knock off a Power Five school and this year it comes the day after Thanksgiving when they face off against Rutgers in Piscataway. While the Scarlet Knights are predicted to finish near the bottom of the Big Ten standings, they are a program on the rise under coach Steve Pikiell and have an intriguing guard in Geo Baker. Even though Rutgers is a low-ranked Power Five team, this would be an impressive win for BU and mean a lot for this program.
- @ Northeastern, November 6th: Northeastern might be the most talented team on BU’s schedule this season. Greg Levinsky and I both believe the Huskies could receive AP Top 25 votes at some point this season and make some noise in the NCAA Tournament. This will be a difficult game for a young Terrier team. Northeastern returns CAA Preseason Player of the Year Vasa Pusica, talented forward Shawn Occeus, and six of its top seven scorers from a team that was a game away from making the tournament. BU will be tested right off the bat in 2018-19.
- vs. Vermont, November 9th: In the home opener, the Terriers welcome America East power Vermont to Case Gym. The Catamounts are 56-14 over the last two seasons and a remarkable 32-1 in the league. They did graduate their best player in Trae Bell-Haynes, but Vermont still has a formidable trio of Anthony Lamb and brothers Everett and Ernie Duncan. Northeastern and Vermont are two potential tournament teams that were predicted to finish first in their respective conferences.
- @ Eastern Michigan, November 17th: The Eagles are another possible tournament team out of the MAC. They went 22-13 a season ago, falling by a point in the conference semifinals. EMU returns its best player in senior forward Elijah Minnie, who averaged 16.8 ppg and 6.1 rpg. Minnie was one of 20 players in the nation named to the Julius Irving Small Forward of the Year Award Candidate list. They also return center James Thompson IV, who was one of 20 players named to the Kareem-Abdul Jabaar Center of the Year Award Candidate list. Thompson IV averaged 14.5 ppg and 11.2 rpg as a junior last year. This is one of the best mid-major duos in the country and the Terriers front line will be tested.
- @ Elon, December 1st: Another team from the CAA, Elon beat BU in Boston last December, 77-69. Now the Terriers have an opportunity to split the home and home series. The Phoenix return senior forward Tyler Seibring (15.4 ppg), Darian Swoope (12.0 ppg), and Steven Santa Ana (9.7 ppg) on a team that loves to play at a fast pace and shoot threes. This game will be the sixth and final game of a long road trip and should be a high-scoring and exciting game.