(5) Vanderbilt vs. (12) Harvard Preview
Senior NBA & College Basketball Editor
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(5) Vanderbilt Commodores
This is definitely one of the most puzzling teams in the field. In each of the last two years, they’ve been upset in the first round by a 12 and 13 seed. This has to be the year that they put everything together because seniors Jeffery Taylor and Festus Ezeli are going to be playing in the NBA next year and, odds are, lights out shooter John Jenkins will be joining them. All of the pieces are there for them to be able to make some noise like they did in the SEC Tournament, where they upset Kentucky to take the championship. They’re certainly talented enough. They lost to three teams ranked outside of the RPI Top 100 though, so the possibility to be upset for a third-straight year remains. As a team, the Commodores are just average defensively, giving up 66 points a night on 42 percent shooting. With enough size, it’s possible to beat them up on the boards. Taking care of the basketball is a must for them in order to string together multiple wins.
(12) Harvard Crimson
Previously, no one under the age of 66 could lay claim to seeing the Crimson in the NCAA Tournament. Now, that is no longer the case as the Crimson are making their first appearance in the expanded field thanks to winning their first ever Ivy League regular season championship. It’s only fitting that Harvard make the field in a year when Linsanity has swept the nation. It’s great to see them a part of the field this year after missing out last year due to a buzzer beater by Princeton in a playoff game. The Crimson, who were ranked in the Top 25 at one point this year, are led by Kyle Casey and Keith Wright. They combine to score 21 points and grab 13 rebounds a game. The Crimson held their opponents to 54 points a game during the regular season, a mark that ranked fourth in the nation. Nine guys play at least 10 minutes or more for head coach Tommy Amaker. Their biggest win of the season came against Florida State on November 25. They were 3-1 overall against teams in the RPI Top 75.
HOOPSWORLD’s pick: Vanderbilt. As bad as we want to pick Harvard to beat the upset-prone Commodores, they just knocked off Kentucky so they’re impossible to pick against.
Who do you think is going win? Chime in by leaving a comment below!