(6) Arizona vs. (14) Harvard
(6) Arizona Wildcats
The experienced Belmont Bruins were a popular Cinderella choice, but the Wildcats overpowered them en route to an 81-64 opening round win. Senior transfer Mark Lyons scored 23 points, and was one of four Wildcats in double figures in a game where eight of the nine players who played scored. The Bruins could not slow them down offensively or keep them off of the boards. The Wildcats were a +27 on the glass and will be going up against a Crimson team in the Round of 32 that also lacks size. The Wildcats are going to have to be patient defensively against a Crimson team that is methodical on the defensive end. This may seem like somewhat of a mismatch on paper, but if the Wildcats take the Crimson lightly they will find themselves in deep trouble as the Lobos did. The Crimson lack depth, so if the Wildcats can duplicate the 20 trips to the free throw line they had against the Bruins and keep them in foul trouble, they should end up in a great position to advance to the Sweet 16.
(14) Harvard Crimson
The Crimson were supposed to be a team just happy to be in the big dance. The thought of them upsetting the New Mexico was farfetched at best. This was a team that was playing without their co-captains, who were dismissed prior to the start of the season due to their involvement in a cheating scandal. The Crimson were extremely talented, but they were too young to lead the program to their first victory in the NCAA Tournament. Or so we thought. The Crimson were patient and extremely efficient offensively, making 22-42 from the field, including eight makes from beyond the arc. Their interior defense struggled for stretches and was consistently attacked, but in the end their big guys were just good enough to get the job done. Wesley Saunders finished with 18 points, four rebounds and three assists while Laurent Rivard scored 17 minutes without getting a single second of rest. To keep this historic season going the Crimson need to rinse, lather and repeat the same game plan against the Wildcats. They’re a team with a lot of talent on the frontline, so the Crimson will once again have to find a way to contain bigger and more athletic guys up front.
HOOPSWORLD’s pick: Arizona. The Crimson are a great story and a solid basketball team, but the Wildcats are just too deep and talented up front to pick against.