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Looking back on over 100 games in 2011-12

June 9, 2012 Columns No Comments
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Another season of college basketball is in the books, and this was perhaps the best one yet for me in terms of what I was able to see. Once Ohio State held off Syracuse to advance to the Final Four, I had covered 118 games in 2011-12, a personal best. It was a lot of basketball, to be sure, but it was well worth it. I saw three of the four Final Four teams at least once this season (Kansas is the only one I never covered a game of) as well as three of the four No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament (Michigan State is the only one I never covered a game of).

In addition, there were more games that were memorable in some sense, as coming up with a list of the top ten games I covered was easier this season than in some others. Among the games were six that went to overtime, including the very first one. Perhaps that was a sign of what was ahead.

Reaching 100 games isn’t easy when travel is limited, but within an hour of home are a number of Division I schools and conferences. Add in that it was a mild winter from a weather standpoint, and logistical issues never really came into play as a limiting factor. A lot went right this time around, and I reached the century mark in Division I games for the fourth straight year.

With all of that out of the way, here’s a look back at 118 games from 2011-12.

 

November 11, 2011

(1) Northeastern 82, Boston University 74 (OT)

A great way to open the season, as two cross-town rivals go at it in a thriller that the Huskies pull out after blowing an 11-point lead in regulation and trailing for a good portion of the extra session. Two players had double-doubles for the Huskies, who out-rebounded BU 52-32 with some help from freshmen up front. It was a reminder of the kind of things we miss and will continue to miss with conference realignment.

 

November 12, 2011

(2) Providence 72, Fairleigh Dickinson 61

The Friars didn’t exactly put on a clinic, not pulling away until the final minutes, but they won the opener for new head coach Ed Cooley.

 

November 14, 2011

(3) Boston College 67, New Hampshire 64

The Eagles played the kind of game you could expect a young team to, although at times they showed the poise of a veteran team to hang on for this win.

 

November 15, 2011

(4) Harvard 73, Holy Cross 64

In what would become a key for the Crimson all season, five players scored in double figures for Harvard. Holy Cross committed 21 turnovers, which didn’t put them in a good position late in the game, and three Crusaders fouled out as Harvard won the war of attrition.

 

November 17, 2011

(5) UMass 79, NJIT 58

This game wasn’t one from which you would send a copy of the game film to the Hall of Fame. UMass won from simply being more talented, bigger and longer against an NJIT team that often settled for jumpers at the offensive end. Already, you could see that having a point guard made a difference for UMass.

 

November 19, 2011

(6) Princeton 61, Buffalo 53

The game wasn’t quite as close as the final score indicates. Buffalo simply didn’t play well at all and had a late rally when Princeton relaxed a little. The Tigers were still looking for a little more balance at the offensive end at this early stage as one area for improvement.

Legends Classic Semifinals

(7) Vanderbilt 86, North Carolina State 79

In C.J. Leslie’s first game back from a suspension, he gave NC State a big boost once he came in the game. Despite the loss to a very good Vanderbilt team, the Wolfpack looked like they could be a factor in the ACC race later in the season.

(8) Oregon State 100, Texas 95 (OT)

There wasn’t much defense in this game, but Oregon State got a much-needed signature win and a chance at another one two nights later, an opportunity that wouldn’t present itself often for the Beavers. They looked ready to turn a corner this season.

 

November 20, 2011 (Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off)

(9) Kentucky 62, Old Dominion 52

Kentucky took home the Naismith Bracket championship with this win over an Old Dominion team that battled them for every inch. As talented as the Wildcats are, at times it could be easy to forget their youth, something 21 turnovers on the day provided a reminder of.

(10) Penn State 53, South Florida 49

This was an ugly game, especially if you like offense. Penn State managed to rebound with a victory after getting humbled by Kentucky a day earlier.

(11) Long Island 80, Vermont 75

Long Island took home the Springfield Bracket title by getting Vermont’s big men in foul trouble, and they completed a successful trip in their quest to make another trip to the NCAA Tournament.

(12) Marist 60, Radford 47

Radford got off to a good start, but Marist took over the game in the second half. It was a tough weekend for Radford and new head coach Mike Jones, as they came into the weekend with a 3-1 mark.

 

November 21, 2011

(13) UMass 82, Boston College 46

This was a second straight blowout loss for the young Eagles, as they were experiencing quite the adversity early on. It was a better win for UMass than the one over NJIT less than a week earlier.

 

November 22, 2011

(14) Providence 59, Southern 53

Providence improved to 4-0 by surviving after being tied at 43 with under nine minutes left, aided largely by Gerard Coleman (first career double-double) and Vincent Council.

 

November 23, 2011

(15) Holy Cross 80, Hartford 66

Hartford fell behind in the first half and didn’t have enough of a rally in the second to make this a ballgame against a Holy Cross team that seemed to be coming around. Hartford was struggling mightily at the offensive end, and the young Hawks were 0-5 and in need of some confidence.

 

November 25, 2011 (NIT Season Tip-Off)

(16) Virginia Tech 59, Oklahoma State 57

It wasn’t a good trip to New York for Oklahoma State, as they went 0-2, but there were more important things on Travis Ford’s mind as tragedy had just struck the athletic department at the school once again. Virginia Tech, meanwhile, had battled injuries but was developing some depth.

(17) Syracuse 69, Stanford 63

This was a turnover-filled game, and it looked like Stanford had a chance until Kris Joseph took over later in the second half. Stanford missed an opportunity for a significant win in this one.

 

November 26, 2011 (Philly Hoop Group Classic)

(18) La Salle 82, Rider 70

Rider had some difficulties early in the season, but this was about La Salle’s effort. John Giannini wasn’t happy with his team at the half, and they rebounded better to pull away for a win.

(19) James Madison 60, Penn 58

Injuries hadn’t fully hit James Madison yet, but they needed some players to do a little more than usual to pull this out. Humpty Hitchens had a nice night defensively and let others score to lead the Dukes to a win.

 

November 27, 2011 (Legends Classic subregional)

(20) Boston University 68, Hofstra 61

Hofstra led for a lot of the game, but in the latter part of the second half Boston University showed their resilience once again to come away with their second straight win.

(21) Cleveland State 67, Rhode Island 45

The visiting Vikings blitzed the Rams early and often in this game, as it was never a contest. Cleveland State showed what they were capable of in this game as they executed their game plan about as well as they could have.

 

November 29, 2011

(22) Providence 82, Holy Cross 77

A tough loss for Holy Cross in a game where neither team played well defensively. The Crusaders were able to hang for much of the game and then rallied from a 16-point deficit to take the lead, and they still led with over a minute to go before the Friars scored the last seven points to pull it out.

 

November 30, 2011

(23) Penn State 62, Boston College 54

Tim Frazier continued to carry Penn State, and this game showed what they might be capable of if they could develop some consistent support for one of the Big Ten’s best players.

 

December 1, 2011

(24) Central Connecticut 83, Bryant 51

In the Northeast Conference opener for both teams, Central Connecticut looked every bit the contender they were thought to be in running away from the host Bulldogs.

 

December 3, 2011

(25) Old Dominion 69, Northeastern 59

Despite heavy personnel losses, Old Dominion was continuing to do what they have done well in recent years: win games. This team also looked to be getting better in this road win to open CAA play.

(26) Holy Cross 62, New Hampshire 57

In pulling out a game they might have lost a year ago, Holy Cross looked like they could be about to turn a corner towards winning more games.

 

December 4, 2011

(27) Harvard 80, Seattle 70

After a lot of time on the road, Harvard returned home and beat a Seattle team that wasn’t lacking talent but appeared to be missing something.

 

December 5, 2011

(28) Providence 80, Brown 49

Providence ran away from a Brown team that had been hobbled by injuries and eligibility issues and then had to turn around and play another game a couple of nights later.

 

December 7, 2011

(29) New Hampshire 69, Brown 56

The Wildcats had been in search of a road win, and finally got one. The hope was that it might spur the team on to the kind of success they appeared to be capable of given their experience.

 

December 8, 2011

(30) Providence 64, Boston College 57

Providence head coach Ed Cooley picked up his 100th career win against a school he was once an assistant at. Boston College stayed competitive all night, as the game was played within a ten-point window, but the young Eagles couldn’t break through when they needed to.

 

December 9, 2011 (Hall of Fame Holiday Showcase)

(31) UMass 82, Siena 78

Siena lost another close game, and this time it was one where they might have picked up a good boost had they pulled it out. The short-handed Saints continued to battle, but could have used a win to help their confidence at this early stage.

(32) Fairfield 59, Old Dominion 51

In a game that was far from a thing of beauty, Fairfield did what they needed to do: get better and get a good win. The Stags had been up and down in non-conference play, but the hope was that this might be a turning point for them.

 

December 10, 2011

(33) Providence 72, Bryant 61

For a while, it looked like Bryant might be able to pull off a shocker, as they led by as many as eight in the second half. But late in the game, they didn’t get a fair whistle and couldn’t overcome the adversity that followed it.

(34) Harvard 76, Boston University 52

Fresh off their first loss of the season, Harvard responded the way a ranked team would be expected to by heading across town and putting the clamps on the Terriers in a complete effort.

 

December 11, 2011

(35) Boston College 66, Stony Brook 51

Boston College looked more confident in this game and it showed, especially defensively as they put forth a great effort at that end of the floor. They scored the last 22 points of the first half and held Stony Brook scoreless for the final 11:50 of the half en route to victory.

 

December 17, 2011

(36) New Hampshire 73, Marist 56

Coming out of final exams, the Wildcats got a decisive win, something they don’t get often. This game wasn’t quite as close as the final score might indicate, as they blew the game open and cruised home from there.

 

December 18, 2011

(37) Princeton 71, Northeastern 62

A big second half helped the Tigers remain on a roll, as led by their defense they continued to look like a team that had progressed well as the season had gone along. The Huskies, meanwhile, struggled to take care of the ball and were facing some real questions in the backcourt.

 

December 20, 2011

(38) Providence 67, New Hampshire 52

After a long layoff for final exams, Providence won this game going away after UNH took a brief lead in the second half. The record was a little deceptive, but one thing that was true is that Providence was getting better in non-conference play.

 

December 21, 2011

(39) Boston College 83, Sacred Heart 73

Boston College headed into the Christmas break with three straight wins, which put this team in a better place than they were in a few weeks earlier. Sacred Heart, meanwhile, had some defensive questions that were brought out in this game and also saw their best player spend some time on the bench in the second half.

 

December 22, 2011

(40) Harvard 63, Florida Atlantic 51

Florida Atlantic gave Harvard a battle, but couldn’t finish it off after forcing a lot of turnovers early in each half. The Owls looked good, but had more work to do from an intangible standpoint to reach their potential.

 

December 23, 2011

(41) Providence 80, Rhode Island 61

Providence won in the Ryan Center for the first time ever and continued their good non-conference run in a rare road game. They did it against a Rhode Island team that looked like they might have hit rock bottom.

 

December 29, 2011

(42) Harvard 67, Boston College 46

Boston College had more confidence heading into this game than they had all season thanks to a three-game winning streak coming in. Their fourth straight loss to Harvard wasn’t pretty on the scoreboard and was a decidedly mixed bag looking beyond that.

 

December 31, 2011

(43) Harvard 74, Saint Joseph’s 69

In a classic tale of two halves, Saint Joseph’s couldn’t miss in the first half but didn’t have enough in the second half. The Hawks finished the bulk of non-conference play at 10-6 and looked a lot like they did in this game.

 

January 2, 2012

(44) Rhode Island 78, Boston College 72 (2 OT)

In a battle of two young teams, it was the Rams who showed signs that they might be on the verge of growing up. The timing was good considering Atlantic 10 play was right around the corner.

(45) UMBC 82, New Hampshire 76

This might be the game that helped turn the Wildcats’ season in the wrong direction. They got to start America East play at home against the struggling Retrievers, but put forth a bad effort and lost. With that, suddenly UMBC’s 1-11 non-conference record didn’t mean a thing for the time being.

 

January 4, 2012

(46) Syracuse 87, Providence 73

Last year, Syracuse wasn’t very good offensively, but this game showed just how good they had become. A lot of it had to do with their depth, and given how good their defense is, the offensive improvement meant they were even tougher to beat.

 

January 5, 2012

(47) Robert Morris 84, Bryant 53

Obviously, this was a game Robert Morris had to be happy with. But the scoreboard seldom tells the whole story, and that was true here as how they blew out the Bulldogs was the real reason to feel like this game couldn’t have gone better.

 

January 7, 2012

(48) Harvard 63, Dartmouth 47

Dartmouth competed well in the Ivy League opener, but Harvard took over the game in the second half and won despite continuing to live dangerously.

(49) Seton Hall 66, Providence 57

Seton Hall continued its nice start in Big East play and looked like they were en route to being an NCAA Tournament team, with Jordan Theodore leading the way. They had already surpassed last season by this point.

 

January 8, 2012

(50) Boston University 68, Binghamton 49

As Boston University snapped a six-game losing streak and hoped to get their confidence back, Binghamton remained winless and tried to stay positive.

 

January 10, 2012

(51) Providence 90, Louisville 59

In what was surely an aberration, Providence simply dominated Louisville in a game that had no explanation other than the Friars playing their best game and the Cardinals playing their worst game on the same night. Louisville’s struggles around this time, granted against good teams, showed that they looked like a good, not great, team.

 

January 11, 2012

(52) Holy Cross 73, Navy 69

Young Navy, with new head coach Ed DeChellis, suffered another tough loss. Had they pulled this one out, it might have been just what the Midshipmen needed to break through.

 

January 12, 2012

(53) Boston College 59, Clemson 57

A nice win for the young Eagles, and with this loss snapping a two-game Tiger winning streak, it looked like Clemson might be at a key point early in the ACC season.

 

January 14, 2012

(54) Boston University 61, Stony Brook 55

The Terriers evened things up in the loss column in America East play with this win over a Stony Brook team that had won six straight games.

(55) Boston College 61, Virginia Tech 59

Few would have predicted Boston College to be above .500 in ACC play at any point in the season, but with this win they were 2-1. Virginia Tech had a key stretch coming up, and needed to make some offensive strides if they were going to have some success.

 

January 16, 2012

(56) Boston University 70, Albany 57

The Terriers remained on a roll, winning their fourth straight game despite being badly out-rebounded. America East leading scorer Gerardo Suero struggled at the offensive end and got frustrated before spending some time on the bench.

 

January 18, 2012

(57) Northeastern 60, Georgia State 57

As Northeastern continued to play well at a good time, a freshman was emerging as a key player for them. Georgia State had also been playing very well, as Ron Hunter had wasted little time changing the culture there.

 

January 19, 2012

(58) Lafayette 54, Holy Cross 43

A poor defensive second half by Holy Cross allowed Lafayette to take over the game in the second half, which was basically the polar opposite of the first half.

 

January 21, 2012

(59) Wake Forest 71, Boston College 56

Boston College played as if they never really woke up for this noon tip. Wake Forest was quite the opposite, as they were preparing for this as soon as their prior game two nights earlier had ended and got a much-needed road win.

(60) Quinnipiac 78, Bryant 71 (OT)

Quinnipiac finally had some home games coming up, and pulling out this win on the road was something they needed.

(61) Marquette 79, Providence 72

It wasn’t a banner night defensively for Providence, as Marquette shot very well, especially from long range, to win this game.

 

January 24, 2012

(62) Boston University 83, UMBC 48

It was only a few weeks earlier that UMBC started off America East play with a road win. On this day, they were very far from that team against a hot Terriers team, and the Retrievers were not in a good place.

 

January 25, 2012

(63) Northeastern 62, Delaware 61

This was a game Delaware had, but lost it in the final minute. While the Blue Hens bounced back often, this time around might have been tougher given the way they lost.

 

January 26, 2012

(64) Fairleigh Dickinson 66, Bryant 63

In a game that seemingly crystallized Bryant’s season, the Bulldogs had their chances but couldn’t come out on top. Their season of tough luck continued.

 

January 27, 2012

(65) Brown 66, Dartmouth 59

Dartmouth didn’t have enough on this night, but it was clear that the Big Green were on the cusp of being relevant again in the Ivy League.

 

January 28, 2012

(66) Northeastern 58, Hofstra 51

As Northeastern continued to play well of late, Hofstra had a familiar theme: good defense but offensive struggles that basically precluded winning.

(67) Harvard 68, Brown 59

This game wasn’t quite as close as the final score indicated. Add this to the Crimson’s annihilation of Yale a night earlier, and Harvard really asserted itself in the first full weekend of Ivy League play.

 

January 29, 2012

(68) Miami 76, Boston College 54

The two teams were close all game long until they were tied at 49, when Miami ran off 14 unanswered points to take over the game. The Hurricanes showed that they were poised to make moves in the ACC standings.

 

February 1, 2012

(69) Drexel 61, Northeastern 55

Northeastern had brief leads early in both halves, but once Drexel regained the lead in the second half they put the Huskies away like a conference title contender should do. Meanwhile, Northeastern showed that they were a little short of being a contender at the time despite a good CAA record.

 

February 3, 2012

(70) Harvard 71, Cornell 58

A road win continued to elude the young Big Red, and offensive struggles were a big part of that up to this point and on this night against a good defensive Crimson team.

 

February 4, 2012

(71) Temple 73, Rhode Island 56

Temple won its sixth straight game to move into the lead in the Atlantic 10, with their perimeter trio being the big driving force.

(72) Penn 65, Brown 48

Quietly, Penn improved to 4-1 in early Ivy League play by bouncing back from a loss at Yale a night earlier. That set the stage for an early showdown the following Friday in Philadelphia.

 

February 5, 2012

(73) West Virginia 87, Providence 84 (OT)

West Virginia really needed a win, although it didn’t come easily as Providence lead for much of the afternoon. It wasn’t until overtime that the Mountaineers looked like the better team for any appreciable stretch.

 

February 6, 2012

(74) Stony Brook 57, New Hampshire 48

As New Hampshire continued to struggle, Stony Brook capped off a stretch where they won both road games two days apart to stay on top of the America East standings.

 

February 8, 2012

(75) Boston College 64, Florida State 60

In a game many probably figured to be a mismatch, Boston College looked like a confident team and rode some hot early shooting to a stunning upset. Florida State had become the hunted after being the hunter for so long, and they needed to adapt to being in that position.

 

February 9, 2012

(76) Boston University 67, Maine 54

Both teams were slow to get going, but after the first media timeout the Terriers opened up a double-digit lead and were clearly the better team in winning this one.

 

February 11, 2012

(77) VCU 68, Old Dominion 64

In a well-played game between two arch-rivals, VCU pulled off the first season sweep in the rivalry since 2003-04. The Rams showed that they are a good team that is still growing given the youth they have, and had solid leadership from a senior who bounced back from a slump a few days earlier.

(78) William & Mary 79, Northeastern 54

A forgettable game for Northeastern, who never really showed up to play. For William & Mary, a team that had struggled all year, it was at long last a complete effort, and the bottom line reflected it.

 

February 12, 2012

(79) Georgetown 71, St. John’s 61

Although the Hoyas never really pulled away from the Red Storm until late, they weren’t playing like a young team as evidenced by their intangibles. Everyone knew the Red Storm was young, and they experienced a lot of adversity during the season, which they were working through as they took a tough road loss.

 

February 14, 2012

(80) Northeastern 70, Towson 51

No one would tell you this was a season to remember for Towson, but they had been playing better before a relatively lackluster outing in Boston on this night.

 

February 15, 2012

(81) Saint Joseph’s 80, Rhode Island 69

As Carl Jones continued to bounce back from a mid-season slump that included an injury a month earlier, the Hawks continued to play better, winning their fourth game in five in a game that had a good result but left Phil Martelli with some concerns all the same.

 

February 17, 2012

(82) Harvard 69, Brown 42

An already under-manned Brown team was without another frontcourt player, and Harvard rolled in this one, setting up a first place showdown the next night against their long-time arch-rival.

 

February 18, 2012

(83) Stony Brook 76, Northeastern 69

Behind a big effort on the glass, Stony Brook ended a five-game losing streak to the Huskies dating back to when the schools were both in America East. Leading the way in this BracketBusters game was Tommy Brenton, whose value to the team was as clear on this day as it has been at any time.

(84) Harvard 66, Yale 51

Harvard ran out to a 35-15 lead in the first half, and while Yale made a late run in the half and continued playing well in the second, Harvard pulled away later to go two games up on the Bulldogs in the Ivy League standings. Yale had won some games they probably shouldn’t, but that didn’t happen on this night.

 

February 19, 2012

(85) Duke 75, Boston College 50

Duke coasted to victory on this night as the more talented and experienced team. But the Blue Devils, despite being 23-4 overall and 10-2 in the ACC, were hardly unbeatable, but they were constantly finding ways to win.

 

February 21, 2012

(86) UMass 80, Xavier 73

As UMass picked up a big win against a team that had given them trouble for a while, Xavier found itself in the unthinkable spot of being a bubble team as they were below .500 in games played since the fight with Cincinnati back in December.

 

February 22, 2012

(87) Northeastern 85, George Mason 82 (OT)

For the first time this season, Northeastern won against a team ahead of them in the CAA standings. In a battle of attrition, George Mason’s off-night defensively and with too many turnovers was too much for the Patriots to overcome.

 

February 23, 2012

(88) Wagner 86, Bryant 73

Although Wagner struggled early, they took home a comfortable road win to continue a fine season. It was clear that Danny Hurley was already turning the Seahawks into winners once again in Staten Island.

 

February 24, 2012

(89) Harvard 67, Princeton 64

In the first game of a showdown weekend, Harvard got past its nemesis and felt better than they did after just about any other win this season.

 

February 25, 2012

(90) Boston University 64, Hartford 55

Hartford played well late in the season, but the Hawks couldn’t get past the Terriers and their stingy defense on Senior Day in Case Gym.

(91) Penn 55, Harvard 54

In an instant classic, Zach Rosen carried Penn back in the final minutes to a big road win. Penn retained control of their own destiny and made Harvard’s path to the NCAA Tournament a little more murky at this point, and the game didn’t end well for Crimson forward Kyle Casey.

 

February 26, 2012

(92) New Hampshire 58, Binghamton 49

New Hampshire closed out the regular season with a home win on Senior Day over a Binghamton team that was missing a key starter. The Wildcats finished the regular season playing about as well as any team outside the top three in America East.

 

February 28, 2012

(93) Providence 72, Connecticut 70

Connecticut led by as many as 14 points, but Providence wanted this game more. The talented Huskies were clearly searching for something, but by this point they were running out of time to find it with the postseason beckoning.

 

February 29, 2012

(94) Boston College 56, Georgia Tech 52

In a matchup of two of the ACC’s bottom-feeders, BC pulled out a close one as the home team won both games between these two teams on the season.

 

March 2, 2012 (Colonial Athletic Association Tournament – First Round)

(95) UNCW 70, James Madison 59

As UNCW moved on to the quarterfinals with a better effort after a good week of practice, James Madison concluded a season where wins were hard to come by in the CAA but the team fought the injury bug right up to the end.

(96) Delaware 72, Towson 65

Delaware survived a couple of injuries that led them to play Larry Savage for key minutes, but got a good effort from him. They also survived the first 20-20 game in CAA Tournament history, posted by Towson senior Robert Nwankwo in the losing effort.

(97) Northeastern 57, William & Mary 49

Northeastern beat William & Mary in the state of Virginia for the first time ever, surviving late minutes without key leader Jonathan Lee. It was the last game in the career of the Tribe’s stellar senior Quinn McDowell, and that description was not only true of the young man on the court.

(98) Georgia State 85, Hofstra 50

This was the only non-competitive game of the day, as Georgia State rolled but felt like they did what they had to and were ready to move on to the next game.

 

March 3, 2012 (Colonial Athletic Association Tournament – Quarterfinals)

(99) Drexel 59, UNCW 47

UNCW faced an uphill battle, especially when their best player was in early foul trouble. Nonetheless, the tournament was a positive ending for the young Seahawks, who hoped for a bright future ahead.

(100) Old Dominion 88, Delaware 74

The Monarchs continued their recent success in the conference tournament with this win. With postseason play hopefully beckoning for Delaware, it was worth looking at how Monte Ross was getting the job done in Newark.

(101) VCU 75, Northeastern 65

Northeastern found a way to stay in the game despite being clearly out-played early on. The Huskies’ season ended with a look of promise for next season to go with clear room for improvement on this season.

(102) George Mason 61, Georgia State 59

Despite the CAA Player of the Year being in foul trouble a lot of the night, George Mason battled back from an early deficit to pull out a victory in an instant classic. Included was a story of redemption: Bryon Allen with the game-winning layup a week and a half after a couple of key turnovers in a loss.

 

March 4, 2012 (Colonial Athletic Association Tournament – Semifinals)

(103) Drexel 68, Old Dominion 51

Drexel managed to keep Old Dominion at a safe distance for much of the game, breaking the press for baskets often to nip any comebacks in the bud. In advancing to the CAA title game, the Dragons were finally having some success in Richmond.

(104) VCU 74, George Mason 64

VCU scored the first 22 points of the game and was in command for much of the first half. George Mason made it a ballgame in the second half, but ultimately dug themselves too deep a hole early.

 

March 5, 2012 (Colonial Athletic Association Tournament – Championship)

(105) VCU 59, Drexel 56

In the first half, it looked like VCU might run away with this, as they successfully sped Drexel up and the Dragons could get nothing going. The Dragons fought back, but it wasn’t enough, and they had to hope the NCAA Tournament would come calling although Bruiser Flint sounded like he wasn’t going to lose a lot of sleep over it for the next six days. VCU, meanwhile, was quite a story of growth over the course of the season.

 

March 8, 2012 (ACC Tournament – First Round)

(106) Maryland 82, Wake Forest 60

Maryland broke open a close game in the second half for a blowout win to open the ACC Tournament. It ended another less-than-memorable season for Wake Forest.

(107) North Carolina State 78, Boston College 57

It wasn’t a big surprise that North Carolina State won this game. They needed it to get another chance to boost their NCAA Tournament hopes and the Eagles’ youth was well-chronicled. Boston College ended its season with some reasons to be optimistic for next year.

(108) Virginia Tech 68, Clemson 63

Neither team played a game for the ages, but in the end it was Virginia Tech that made just enough plays to advance and play Duke a night later.

(109) Miami 54, Georgia Tech 36

Georgia Tech led at the half, but once Miami regained the lead in the second half, it got away from the Yellowjackets and the Hurricanes advanced.

 

March 9, 2012 (ACC Tournament – Quarterfinals)

(110) North Carolina 85, Maryland 69

UNC advanced to the semifinals by comfortably knocking off Maryland. Mark Turgeon’s first season in College Park was complete, a season that didn’t start with a lot of promise but looked better at the end.

(111) North Carolina State 67, Virginia 64

Virginia didn’t look like a team that started the season so well, as they had to scrap and claw just to have a chance at the end of this one. North Carolina State continued to progress in big games, led by their best player, C.J. Leslie.

(112) Duke 60, Virginia Tech 56

Duke out-played Virginia Tech, but the Hokies were never really out of this one. But as was the case often this season, the Hokies were a little short, and Duke moved on to the semifinals.

(113) Florida State 82, Miami 71

Florida State had an answer for every rally Miami had in the second half, advancing to take on Duke in the semifinals.

 

March 10, 2012 (ACC Tournament – Semifinals)

(114) North Carolina 69, North Carolina State 67

The Wolfpack played like a team that needed this game badly, and they were right there all game even after C.J. Leslie fouled out with over eight minutes left. They appeared livid with the officials, and perhaps rightly so given Kendall Marshall’s game-winning layup in the final minute.

(115) Florida State 62, Duke 59

As the Seminoles advanced to the championship game by winning a great defensive battle, head coach Leonard Hamilton talked about trying to become a program of significance in the ACC and nationally. That’s something they had accomplished even before they won the ACC championship the next day.

 

March 22, 2012 (NCAA Tournament – Regional Semifinals)

(116) Syracuse 64, Wisconsin 63

A terrific game that came right down to the final buzzer, with Syracuse surviving. Wisconsin made 14 three-pointers, but was cool from long range late and couldn’t get over the hump against the Orange.

(117) Ohio State 81, Cincinnati 66

The Buckeyes pulled away in the second half to knock off a Cincinnati team that was a pleasant surprise in the Sweet 16.

 

March 24, 2012 (NCAA Tournament – Regional Final)

(118) Ohio State 77, Syracuse 70

Jared Sullinger came back to school to make a run to the Final Four, and that happened with a little help from more than just the four players the Buckeyes counted on.

 

Top 10 Games

1. March 22, 2012 – Syracuse 64, Wisconsin 63: Arguably the best game of the 2012 NCAA Tournament.

2. February 11, 2012 – VCU 68, Old Dominion 64: The best rivalry in the CAA lived up to its billing.

3. February 25, 2012 – Penn 55, Harvard 54: An instant classic Ivy League showdown, heart-stopping for both teams down the stretch.

4. March 3, 2012 – George Mason 61, Georgia State 59: The best game of the CAA Tournament was competitive throughout and had a great finish.

5. March 10, 2012 – Florida State 62, Duke 59: The best game of the ACC Tournament was as competitive as everyone expected.

6. February 22, 2012 – Northeastern 85, George Mason 82 (OT): The Huskies win a thriller in their home finale.

7. November 18, 2011 – Oregon State 100, Texas 95 (OT): An early-season shootout and an entertaining game.

8. March 9, 2012 – North Carolina State 67, Virginia 64: One of many games the Cavaliers played this season that came right down to the end.

9. March 5, 2012 – VCU 59, Drexel 56: Drexel made the CAA title game a good one after it looked like VCU could run away early.

10. March 24, 2012 – Ohio State 77, Syracuse 70: A close game throughout, with the Final Four on the line.

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