Bracket Prep: HarvardPosted by Bennet Hayes on March 8th, 2014
The first ticket to the NCAA Tournament was punched in New Haven on Friday night, and as each of the 31 automatic qualifiers plays their way into the Dance over the next week, we’ll take some time to give you an analytic snapshot of each team that you can refer back to when you’re picking your brackets next weekend.
- Ivy Champion (25-4, 12-1)
- RPI/Pomeroy/Sagarin = #52/#32/#37
- Adjusted Scoring Margin = +11.4
- Likely NCAA Seed: #10-#12
Three Bruce Pearls of Wisdom.
- Well, well, well – look who we have here. The Harvard Crimson, by virtue of their victory Friday night over Yale, clinched the Ivy League title and earned the 2014 NCAA Tournament’s first official bid. Harvard and NCAA Tournament in the same sentence may have been quite a story a few years ago, but after three straight Tournament appearances, the NBA’s brief bout of Linsanity in 2012, and last year’s opening round takedown of New Mexico, the Crimson have become a familiar March entity. This year’s team may be Tommy Amaker’s best since he arrived in Cambridge, but navigating its way to another Ivy title was not the walk in the park many expected, as Yale proved a worthy challenger right up until the end.
- Let’s start with a team that won an NCAA Tournament game a year ago but only lost one rotation player off that squad. Now add two senior, all-league caliber players. What you have now is a deep, battle-tested rotation – one that was good enough to win 25 games this season for Amaker. Kyle Casey (10.0 PPG, 5.6 RPG) and Brandyn Curry (9.4 PPG, 3.0 APG) both returned this season from academic suspensions in 2012-13, but the seniors came back to a team that had forged an identity in their absence. Both are key contributors to this edition, but it’s the backcourt of junior Wesley Saunders (14.0 PPG, 3.9 APG) and Siyani Chambers (11.0 PPG, 4.6 APG) that now keys the Harvard attack. Still though, with all due respect to the explosiveness of that duo, this is a team that thrives off their balance – six players average at least 9.4 PPG.
- This is not your typical Ivy League champion. As the final seconds ticked away in New Haven last night, the Crimson players began to celebrate with the Harvard faithful that had made the trip south. Joyous scenes like this one will play out in gyms across the country for the next eight days, but Tommy Amaker wasn’t going to allow for any sort of party here. In quickly summoning his players to the locker room, he ended the celebration before it could even get started – an emphatic announcement that for this Ivy champ, the work doesn’t end upon gaining entry to the Big Dance. It’s a notion that would have qualified you for admission to the psych ward in past years, but anyone who has watched these Crimson – as disciplined as they are talented – knows that Amaker is a long ways from crazy.