The first two months of a college basketball season are fun, full of intriguing matchups, interesting developments and high hopes and this year has been no different. Here's a final recap of the last weekend of 2011 and some highlights of the fall that was, before all of our teams open conference play.
Boston College (5-9 Overall, 0-1: 78-72 2OT L To Rhode Island Mon.)
The Eagles started the new year with a strong effort defensively, against a struggling Rhode Island squad, but couldn't come away with a victory in their final non-conference game. Boston College rallied from deficits of five-points or more twice, before finally succumbing to the Rams in the second extra session. Freshmen forward Ryan Anderson led five Eagles in double-figures with 18 points and 14 rebounds, his third double-double of the year.
Biggest Win: 66-62 overtime victory against UC Riverside in the consolation round against UC Riverside. While there's nothing particularly special about the Highlanders, all five Eagles wins have come against losing teams, the resiliency a young Boston College squad showed and the 32-point performance from Patrick Heckmann made it memorable.
Player of the Year: Heckmann
Boston University (4-10 Overall, 0-1: 59-53 L @ Quinnipiac Sat.)
Despite playing their best game in nearly a month, the Terriers dropped their sixth-straight game to enter conference play. Boston University's defense was phenomenal, holding Quinnipiac to just 32 percent shooting, their second-lowest total of the year, but the offense struggled down the stretch. Even with a 13-point halftime lead, the Terriers couldn't overcome shooting 25 percent in the second half and a 14 free throw differential.
Biggest Win: 68-61 win over Hofstra in the final game of the TicketCity Legends Classic. The win over Boston College was sweet, the win over Rhode Island was needed, but Hofstra was the best opponent the Terriers have downed all year and they did it with an impressive 21-7 run to close the game.
Player of the Year: D.J. Irving Harvard Crimson (12-1 Overall, 1-0: 74-69 W over St. Joseph's Sat.)
Player of the Year: D.J. Irving
Harvard Crimson (12-1 Overall, 1-0: 74-69 W over St. Joseph's Sat.)
Harvard won our game of the week behind the fantastic duo of Kyle Casey and Keith Wright. The pair of forwards dominated the paint with 42 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks, as the Crimson overcame a 10-point halftime deficit to earn their 21st victory at the Lavietes Pavilion. It took until the 1:49 mark of the second half, for Harvard to grab their first lead since the opening three minutes of the game, but the Crimson closed on a 7-to-1 run to grab the win.
Biggest Win: 46-41 W over Florida State in the semifinals of the Battle 4 Atlantis. No it wasn't their championship game win over Central Florida, or a comeback win against a potential tournament team in St. Joes, the win over the Seminoles put the Crimson on the map this season and was full of more drama than the actual championship game.
Player of the Year: Casey
Holy Cross (6-7 Overall, 1-0: 65-61 W @ Dartmouth Sat.)
Harvard wasn't the only team with the comeback bug Saturday, as the Crusaders rallied from a 15-point deficit, to take down the Big Green. Senior Devin Brown scord 16 of his game-high 18 points in the final 7:04 seconds, including 10 in a row at one point, for the Crusaders to clinch the win. With the win, Holy Cross improved to 6-7, and have a chance to reach the .500 mark for the first time this year, when they play Yale Tuesday night.
Biggest Win: 88-83 Win over San Francisco. Once again it was tempting to use the Boston College game, but the victory over the Dons means more to Milan Brown and the Crusaders right now. With the win, Holy Cross proved they could beat a winning team and gave themselves some confidence heading into Patriot League play.
Northeastern (5-7 Overall, 1-1 CAA, 2-0: 53-51 W @ Vermont Fri., 57-48 W @ Towson (conference game) Mon.
Nobody had a better week than the Huskies, as they earned their first win of December and their first conference win in a span of four days, all after losing six in a row. Friday's win was a thriller, that took a Joel Smith runner at the buzzer to down Vermont and gave the Huskies their first win in 30 days. Monday night Norteastern turned up the defensive pressure, holding Towson (0-14) to a season-low 48 points. Joel Smith's performance Friday was the best news of the week, as the captain had struggled during the team's losing streak.
Biggest Win: 78-64 win at St. John's. Northeastern plain and simple stomped the Red Storm, leading for all but 37 seconds on St. John's home court. Joel Smith was by far the best player on the floor and the Huskies embarrassed a Big East squad, not bad for a Huskies team coming off an 11-20 year.
In the most one-sided game of the weekend, UMass decimated the Blue Devils 97-65 in a game where UMass head coach Derek Kellogg emptied his bench with more than six minutes to play. The Minutemen seemingly couldn't miss their shots, dominated the boards and forced 17 turnovers, to finish non-conference play on a strong note.
STAT OF THE WEEK: 51 Points:
STAT OF THE WEEK: 51 Points:The difference in scoring margin between last season's Central Connecticut State victory over UMass in Connecticut and this year's blowout.
Biggest Win: 73-65 win over Davidson. UMass gave Kellogg an early Christmas present, when they earned their best victory of the season against a Davidson squad coming off a win over Kansas on the road.
Player of the Year: Chaz Williams
Player of the Year: Chaz Williams
UConn Huskies (12-1, 2-0 Big East, 1-0 Overall: 83-69 W over St. John's Sat.)
The Huskies extended their season-high winning streak to seven Saturday, when they defeated St. John's behind big days from Shabazz Napier and Andre Drummond. Napier led team with 17 points and nine rebounds, while Drummond added 16 points and 11 rebounds. It didn't hurt that UConn shot 60 percent for the game (71.4 percent in the second half) and held the Red Storm to 25 percent shooting in the first half.
Biggest Win: 67-53 win over Harvard. In a matchup of Top-25 teams, UConn outlasted Harvard, to assert their dominance as a national contender and the team to beat in New England.
Player of the Year (Tie): Shabazz Napier/Jeremy Lamb
Upset Alert: UConn @ Seton Hall-7p.m. EDT (Big East game)
Holy Cross @ Yale-7p.m. EDT (Non-conference finale)
Harvard @ Fordham-7p.m. EDT
UNC-Wilmington @ Northeastern-7p.m. EDT (CAA Game)
Fordham @ UMass-7p.m. EDT (A-10 Conference Opener)
Boston University @ Vermont-7 p.m. EDT (America East Conference Opener)
Do you disagree with any of the choices for biggest win or player of the year? Post a comment or send me a tweet and I'll discuss it in Thursday's power rankings.