Boston University's season opener against George Washington was a benchmark. It was a chance for a group that had lost to the Colonials in three consecutive seasons to prove that this year was different. To make, as Corey Lowe said prior to the tip-off of that game, a statement.
So if, as Lowe said, every game is a statement game, the issue becomes which games make louder statements than others? Getting a win against Northeastern University tonight at Matthews Arena would yell legitimacy for quite a distance.
Much like GW, this collection of Terriers hasn't beaten the Huskies in two seasons (after taking one year off from the rivalry once NU left America East for the CAA). Last year's game at The Roof ended with a close result (65-58), but BU was never in control and appeared off-balance and unable to score easily for the majority of the contest. This time around, not only does BU have the best roster it's had since the Huskies bolted from AE, but so does Northeastern.
Centered around junior captain Matt Janning, the Northeastern also boasts a formidable front court, which has been the bane of BU's existence in the teams' two previous meetings. Make no mistake, if BU doesn't outwork (not necessarily outrebound) the Huskies on the offensive and defensive glass tonight, they won't notch their third consecutive non-conference victory -- which would be the first such streak of its kind since 2004-05 when BU won 20 games and four in a row out of conference.
An X-factor regarding BU's battle for the boards (a microcosm of the Battle for Boston) is 6-foot-9 forward Scott Brittain. Still slightly hampered by a concussion he suffered prior to the start of the season, Brittain logged 11 minutes in Saturday's game against St. Peter's and didn't do much. The Terriers will need him to supply a semblance of post presence if BU hopes to keep the rebounding margin close. Though Matt Wolff has been about as tenacious on the boards as any one player can be, he can't win the rebounding margin against NU by himself.
Before practice on Monday, BU coach Dennis Wolff talked about how he's expecting more out of Brittain this season.
"I don't care about mistakes, but if I see plays that I perceive not to be aggressive enough in the lane, that's going to influence my thinking," Wolff said.
Wolff cited a specific play against St. Peter's where Brittain opened himself up on a layup attempt that got blocked instead of, perhaps, taking the ball hard to the rim for a dunk attempt. Obviously all parties involved (save the opponent) would be satisfied seeing that kind of effort from Brittain, but neither that specific play (nor his enitre first game back) should not be used as a barometer for what Brittain's could potenitally do over the course of the season. Though, seeing a bit more tenacity in his game against a forceful and talented Northeastern squad would certainly be a good start.
Projected Starting Lineups
BU set to renew rivalry with NU