Heading into the 2015-16 season featuring a plethora of fresh faces, uncertainty surrounds the Boston College Eagles, who open their campaign with a number of challenging non-conference matchups.
Here are a few contests which will be crucial in determining the early season fate of Jim Christian's inexperienced team.
November 22 vs. Harvard; 12:30 P.M.
After opening the season with home contests against mid-majors St. Francis (New York) and Central Connecticut State, the Eagles' first true challenge will come when the Crimson visit Silvio O. Conte Forum.
Harvard has established themselves as an Ivy League superpower, having earned four consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. The Crimson narrowly fell to fourth-seeded North Carolina in the second round of March Madness last spring, 67-65, following a 22-8 season in which the team captured 11 of their 14 conference matchups.
Despite losing leading scorer Wesley Saunders to the NBA and assist-leader Siyani Chambers to a torn ACL in the offseason, Harvard still boasts a formidable cast, including junior guard Corbin Miller, who looks to assume a leadership role on the team after posting 8.2 points per game in 25.2 minutes per game in 2014-15.
Expect this test against Crimson to provide a telling baseline as to whether Boston College can keep themselves afloat prior to their ACC slate.
November 26 vs. Michigan State; 6:30 P.M.
Following their matchup against Harvard, the Eagles will travel to Irvine, CA. for the Wooden Legacy tournament, tipping off on Thanksgiving Day with a highly-anticipated matchup against 13th-ranked Michigan State.
The Spartans, who open the season with a home contest against Florida International before facing fifth-ranked Kansas at the United Center in their second game, enter the season coming off of a thrilling journey to the Final Four as a seventh-seed in the NCAA Tournament, where they fell to Duke in the national semifinal, 81-61.
After defeating the likes of Virginia, Oklahoma and Louisville in their quest to college basketball's final weekend, Michigan State returns the likes of senior forward Denzel Valentine (14.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists per game in 2014-15), junior forward Gavin Schilling (5.1 points, 3.8 rebounds per game in 2014-15), senior shooting guard Bryn Forbes (8.5 points per game), and scrappy sophomore point guard Lourawls Nairn Jr.
It will be intriguing to witness how Boston College approaches the contest, and whether they can pose a threat to the daunting Spartans.
December 9 at Providence; 7:00 P.M.
The Eagles sole true road contest of their non-conference slate will come in early December, as they will challenge another team who earned a playoff berth last March, the Providence Friars.
After being bounced by 11th-seeded Dayton as the sixth-seed in the NCAA Tournament, the Friars enter the 2015-16 campaign facing heightened expectations as they return lauded junior guard Kris Dunn, who posted 15.6 points, 7.5 assists, and 5.5 rebounds in 34 minutes per game last winter.
Standing 6'4" and 205 pounds as a point guard, Dunn is currently rated the number seven prospect for the 2016 NBA Draft by Draft Express. Featuring tremendous playmaking skills, the 21-year-old will prove to be Boston College's first test against a true superstar. How they combat Dunn will be a point of intrigue.