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College Basketball February Roundup: 4 Mass. Teams in Good Position for Stretch Run

Wesley Saunders (Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe)

Harvard

Record: 23-4, 10-1 (1st in Ivy League)

Harvard went 7-1 in February to secure its place atop the Ivy League standings, demolishing Penn and Cornell twice each and losing only to Yale on February 8. The Crimson’s seven wins came by a whopping 17.3 points on average, as it took full advantage of the weaker Ivy teams. More importantly, Harvard went 2-1 in a stretch in which it played its three toughest rivals, Brown, Yale and Columbia, in succession. The not-so-good news is that the Crimson’s final three games are once again against those three teams, although it faces that stretch with a two-game lead over Yale. The Ivy League has no tournament, so the regular season champion qualifies directly for the NCAA Tournament.

Harvard has the stingiest defense in the conference, allowing just 59.9 points per game, which ranks 12th in Division I. Shooting guard Wesley Saunders leads the Crimson with 14.1 points and 1.8 steals per game, point guard Siyani Chambers averages 11.1 points and a team-high 4.6 assists, and Medway native Kyle Casey is scoring an even 10 per contest.

Crimson March schedule: 03/01 vs. Columbia (18-10), 03/07 @ Yale (14-11), 03/08 @ Brown (15-10)

Massachusetts

Record: 22-5, 9-4 (3rd in Atlantic 10 Conference)

UMass tumbled out of the AP poll top 25 by losing two of three games between January 22 and February 1, when it fell 73-68 at Saint Joseph’s. Since then, however, the Minutemen have won five of six, beating lowly Rhode Island twice and following up a bad home loss to George Mason with wins over two of the Atlantic 10′s best teams, George Washington and VCU. While it hasn’t been enough to climb back into the top 25, their 9-4 conference record is good for third place, three games behind the A-10 leader, #10 Saint Louis.

UMass continues to have the most productive offense in the Atlantic 10, averaging 76.8 points per game, which ranks 49th in the nation. Point guard Chaz Williams is averaging a team-high 15.6 points and 7.2 assists per game, while power forward Cady Lalanne has 12.5 points with a 40% accuracy from three-point land, 8.4 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per contest. Forward Sampson Carter is adding 10.9 points.

Minutemen March schedule: 03/01 @ Dayton (19-9), 03/05 @ Duquesne (12-15), 03/09 vs. #10 Saint Louis (25-3). Atlantic 10 Tournament starts March 12, top 4 receive bye to quarterfinals March 14.

Boston University

Record: 21-9, 14-3 (1st in Patriot League)

BU kicked off the month of February with a two-point home loss to Lehigh, then reeled off five straight wins to take the Patriot League lead. Bucknell ended the streak with a 63-53 win on February 23, but the Terriers got back in the winning column with a one-point victory at Army to end the month. With just one regular season game remaining, BU has a one-game lead over American University, which it beat 71-62 on February 19.

Point guard Maurice Watson, Jr., leads Boston University with 13.6 points, 6.7 assists and 2.1 steals per game. Guard D. J. Irving is contributing 12 points and forward Dom Morris 11.1 to go with 6.4 rebounds.

Terriers March schedule: 03/01 @ Holy Cross (18-11). Patriot League Tournament starts March 3, BU will face a bottom 4 team in the quarterfinals March 5.

Holy Cross

Record: 18-11, 12-5 (3rd in Patriot League)

Holy Cross went 6-2 in February, including wins by 16 points over Bucknell, 17 over Navy and 13 over Loyola Maryland, to secure the third seed in the upcoming conference tournament. The Crusaders are two games behind Patriot League-leading BU, who they’ll face in the regular season finale, a game that will only have real seeding implications for the Terriers.

Power forward Dave Dudzinski is the Crusaders’ top scorer (15.1) and rebounder (7.6), while forward Malcolm Miller averages 10.7 points and a team-high 1.8 blocks per game.

Crusaders March schedule: 03/01 vs. Boston University (21-9). Patriot League Tournament starts March 3, Holy Cross to face sixth seed (Lehigh or Lafayette) in quarterfinals March 5.

Massachusetts Lowell

Record: 10-18, 8-8 (5th in America East Conference)

UMass Lowell went 5-4 in February to put an end to its first season at the Division I level, as the River Hawks will not be eligible for postseason play until the 2017-18 season. The Hawks got off to a predictably difficult start in 2013-14, losing their first six games and 11 of their first 12, but they turned things around once conference play started, proving that they had the talent to compete in the (admittedly weak) America East Conference, where they beat Binghamton, Maine and UMBC twice each. Their 8-8 record is good for fifth place, currently 6.5 games behind first-place Vermont, which still has one game to play.

Brockton native point guard Akeem Williams was the Hawks’ leading scorer, with 15.8 ppg to go with 3.4 assists and 1.3 steals (both tied for the team lead) and a team-best 34.4% three-point shooting. Guard Antonio Bivins averaged 13.6 points, 5.9 boards and 1.3 steals in 16 games, and guard Chad Holley had 10.3 ppg and 3.4 apg.

Northeastern

Record: 9-20, 6-9 (7th in Colonial Athletic Association)

Northeastern’s tough season continued with a 2-5 February in which the Huskies lost twice to William & Mary and each of the five losses were by at least nine points, their only wins coming over Hofstra and Charleston. The Huskies fell to seventh in the CAA, seven games behind first-place Delaware, although a win in their final regular season game could take them as high as fifth.

Forward Scott Eatherton is averaging a double-double with 15.7 points and 10 rebounds per game, as well as 1.8 blocks. Guard David Walker has 11.6 ppg and leads Northeastern with 2.8 assists and 1.7 steals per contest.

Huskies March schedule: 03/01 vs. Drexel (16-12). CAA Tournament starts March 7, Northeastern to face Towson, William & Mary or Drexel in quarterfinal March 8.

Boston College

Record: 7-21, 3-12 (14th in Atlantic Coast Conference)

The lone bright spot in what has been a very bad season for Boston College came on February 19, when the Eagles stunned then-#1 Syracuse in overtime, 62-59. BC lost its other seven February games, including a 21-point loss at home to Duke and a 27-point beatdown at Miami (FL). With three regular-season games remaining, BC sits ahead of only Virginia Tech, which it’s beaten twice this season, in the ACC, and 11.5 games behind #12 Virginia.

Guard Olivier Hanlan‘s 18.2 points per game lead the Eagles, ahead of forward Ryan Anderson‘s 14.2. Anderson also averages 7.2 rebounds, and Hanlan’s and Anderson’s 0.8 steals are another team high.

Eagles March schedule: 03/01 @ Wake Forest (15-13), 03/04 vs. Florida State (16-11), 03/09 @ North Carolina State (17-11). ACC Tournament starts March 12 for bottom 6 teams.

About Nick García - @N_A_Garcia

Nick is the Celtics and college sports editor at Sports of Boston. He writes about basketball, football and anything else that comes his way. Follow him on Twitter @N_A_Garcia

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