This year's battle for the Commonwealth Cup has an added significance as the annual meeting between in-state rivals Boston College and UMass will take place at TD Garden on Saturday evening as the feature game of the first ever Boston Tip-Off Classic.
Northeastern will host Drexel at the Garden in the first game of the classic at 4 p.m. ET before the Eagles and Minutemen do battle at 6:30 p.m. ET on Comcast Sportsnet.
Boston College leads the all-time series against Massachusetts 25-18. Recent history is also on the Eagles' side, as they have won nine of the last ten meetings. Boston College won six consecutive Commonwealth Cups from 2000 to 2006 before UMass won in 2007. BC has since rebounded, winning the last two games.
The Minutemen held a firm grasp on the series in the 90's, defeating Boston College in all six of their games that decade. Prior to 2000, the last time the Eagles had beaten UMass was back in 1979. Massachusetts also won the first ever meeting between the schools in 1905.
The last meeting between Boston College and Massachusetts was on December 23, 2009 when the Eagles prevailed for a 79-67 victory at Conte Forum. Joe Trapani and Corey Raji each had 18 points to lead the Eagles past the Minutemen. Rakim Sanders added 15 points and Reggie Jackson chipped in with 13 points for Boston College. Anthony Hurley led all scorers with 23 points and Sean Carter had 16 points and nine rebounds for UMass.
Boston College (5-2) enters Saturday's game against Massachusetts on a two-game winning streak. The Eagles most recently defeated Indiana 88-76 in the 11th annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge at Conte Forum on Wednesday night.
Reggie Jackson had yet another stellar performance for Boston College, scoring a game-high 27 points in the win over the Hoosiers. Jackson is off to a fast start, leading the team in scoring (19 points per game), assists (4.3 per game) and steals (1.9 per game).
Prior to that, the Eagles finished third in the Old Spice Classic in Kissimmee, Florida over the Thanksgiving weekend. Boston College topped Texas A&M, lost to Wisconsin in the semifinals and defeated California in the third-place game last Sunday.
This will be the first time that new Eagles' head coach Steve Donahue will face UMass in the Commonwealth Classic. Under former coach Al Skinner, Boston College went 9-4 against Massachusetts since Skinner's hiring in April of 1997.
Massachusetts (7-0) is off to its best start since it went 26-0 in the 1995-96 season, one which saw the Minutemen reach the Final Four. The Minutemen have rattled off consecutive victories against Rider (77-67), Sacred Heart (73-65), New Mexico State (71-57), TCU (67-48), American International (83-56), Holy Cross (83-76) and Quinnipiac (66-64) to start the season.
Their last game went down to the final buzzer, with Gurley hitting a buzzer-beater to send Massachusetts to victory over Quinnipiac. Gurley's shot was counted as a result of a goaltending call against the Bobcats. Javorn Farrell scored a game-high 25 points and Gurley finished with 19 points and two steals for UMass. Justin Rutty had 21 points in the losing effort for Quinnipiac.
Gurley has been the catalyst for the Minutemen, averaging a team-best 21.3 points in seven games. Farrell is second in scoring for UMass, averaging 12.4 points. Freddie Riley is also averaging 12.4 points and Sampson Carter averages 11.3 points and a team-high 5.1 rebounds per game.
As for Northeastern (2-3), which will face Drexel in the first game of the Tip-Off Classic, the Huskies will look to regroup after losing to Providence, 77-72, on Wednesday night. Chaisson Allen led Northeastern with 24 points.
The Huskies opened their season with a pair of close wins over Boston University (66-64) and Southern Illinois (63-62). Ever since, Northeastern has been caught in a rut, losing its last three to Siena (84-68), Utah State (56-54) and Providence.
Allen leads Northeastern in scoring (18.4 points per contest), rebounding (5.4 per game) and assists (3.8) in five games this season. Joel Smith is second in scoring, averaging 12.6 points.
Drexel enters Saturday's matinée match up at 4-1. The Dragons are coming off of a 62-50 win over St. Joseph's on Wednesday night. Chris Fouch has 17 points to pace Drexel in the win.
The Dragons' season began with a 75-72 win against Loyola (MD) and another victory over Pennsylvania, 77-56, respectively. Drexel dropped its only game of the season against Rhode Island, losing 74-68, before rattling off wins versus Binghamton (79-29) and St. Joseph's.
Fouch has been leading the Dragons this season, averaging 20.6 points. Sammie Givens is the only other player on the Drexel roster who is averaging double-digits in scoring, totaling 11 points per game. Givens also leads the Dragons in rebounding with 11.4 boards per game. Daryl McCoy, who is averaging 6.4 points and 10 rebounds in five games, has also made an impact for the Dragons.
For more information on the first annual Boston Tip-Off Classic, visit the event's official website.