After waiting more than 6 months since we last witnessed some meaningful NCAA action, the 2012-2013 collegiate season kicked off with a bang.
Friday night, we bore witness to the defending champion Kentucky Wildcats, with virtually an entirely new roster, have their hands full with a spirited University of Maryland squad.
We also saw a number of other Top 25 teams in their first action of the season like Indiana, North Carolina, Duke, and Michigan.
While Michigan State and UConn kicked off the season in style at an Air Force Base in Germany, two other Armed Services games aboard Air Craft Carriers did not go on as planned, but were instead suspended due to weather and poor playing condidtions.
And of course, we saw two opening night upsets, as Florida State and Michigan State succumbed to losses to open the season.
Let’s take a closer look at NCAA Basketball’s opening night action…….
After another deep NCAA Tournament run last season, coach Drew lost 3 players to the NBA Draft, forcing the Bears to rely on veteran leadership from All American PG Pierre Jackson, Brady Heislip, and Corey Jefferson, and a roster built around one of the nation’s best freshmen in the 7 foot Isaiah Austin.
Through the first half, Austin lived up to his lofty NBA Lottery pick potential, scoring 22 points in the game’s first 17 minutes before injuring his ankle.
The Lehigh Mountain Hawks made national headlines in last year’s NCAA Tournament by beating Duke, behind an amazing performance by guard CJ McCollum.
This time, against another Top 25 team, McCollum more than lived up to his Preseason All American status by dropping 36 points on the Baylor defense before Baylor took control behind Jefferson’s 26 points, on 9 dunks, and Jackson’s 14 points and 12 assists.
On a night when the Seminoles got to raise their 2012 ACC Championship banner, the South Alabama Jaguars shocked one of the nation’s preseason Top 25 favorites behind a tremendous 3 point shooting performance.
USA shot an amazing 60% from behind the arc, including 4 made threes by Antoine Allen, who scored a game high 21 points in victory.
Expected to be one of the favorites in the ACC, along with NC State, Duke, and North Carolina, the Seminoles had won 10 straight opening night contests under coach Leonard Hamilton but committed 17 turnovers contributing to the loss.
Preseason All American Michael Snaer, one of the nation’s best seniors, scored 10 first half points but was held scoreless in the 2nd half on 2 of 11 shooting.
With the success of UNC/Michigan State aboard a carrier last season, the NCAA decided to schedule a few more games at alternate locations on air craft carriers in honor of the Armed Forces.
Coach Thad Matta and the Ohio State Buckeyes were supposed to kick off the season aboard the USS Yorktown in Charleston, South Carolina against the upstart Marquette Golden Eagles. But because of condensation aboard the ship, the game was ultimately cancelled.
In similar but different circumstances, the Florida/Georgetown match-up was halted at halftime amid concerns over player safety.
The Syracuse/San Diego State tilt betwen 2 Top 10 programs was moved from Friday evening to Sunday because of similar concerns.
#8 Duke 74, Georgia State 55
Behind a dominating 19 point and 14 rebound performance by senior Mason Plumlee, 15 points from Seth Curry, and 11 made three point shots leading Duke to an opening night win.
# 11 North Carolina 76 , Gardner-Webb 55
Led by a 26 point and 14 board breakout performance by sophomore All American James Michael McAdoo and 13 points from the fully rehabbed Dexter Strickland, the Tarheels cruised to an easy 19 point win over the Bulldogs.
#1 Indiana 97, Bryant 54
Preseason NCAA Player of the Year Cody Zeller dominated the much smaller Bryant University frontcourt defenders to the tune of 18 points, 10 rebounds, 3 steals, and 2 blocks, helping the Hoosiers to a 21 point opening night victory.
In coach Kevin Ollie’s coaching debut in place of the retired Jim Calhoun, the upstart Huskies outlasted the Spartans at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany.
Led by Shabazz Napier’s 25 points and Ryan Boatright’s 14 points and 5 steals, UConn used a 20-6 1st half lead to upset Big Ten Conference favorite Michigan State.
MSU’s Keith Appling had 17 points and Branden Dawson 15 points and 10 boards but freshman Gary Harris missed a shot late to tie the game, as the Huskies gave coach Ollie the first win post Hall of Fame coach Calhoun.
With prized freshman Shabazz Muhammed reduced to cheerleader duties after officially being declared ineligible, the Bruins relied heavily on 2 other freshmen to secure an opening night victory.
First year guard Jordan Adams led the team in scoring with 21 points while fellow highly touted frosh Kyle Anderson had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds as the Bruins cruised to a 27 point win.
Coach Howland also got a huge boost from twin big men Travis and David Wear, who chipped in 17 points and 13 points and 10 boards respectively.
Like driving a new car, coach Calipari got the first chance to test drive his new roster after winning the 2012 National Championship.
Sophomore big man Kyle Wiltjer led the Cats with 19 points and 6 boards, prized freshmen Archie Goodwin added 16 points and Nerlens Noel had 3 blocks, while seldom used PG Jarod Polson added 10 points off the bench.
Maryland had a chance to win late behind an impressive 23 point, 12 rebound, and 4 block effort from potential 7 foot Lottery pick Alex Len, but guard P’Shon Howard missed a shot in the final seconds.