Tommy Amaker

Harvard does what’s expected in beating Boston College for a sixth straight time

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Before the season began, Harvard’s opportunity to host Boston College had the appearance of a game that could benefit the Crimson’s postseason resume. Tommy Amaker’s team may be the prohibitive favorite to win the Ivy League, but quality non-conference wins have the potential to serve as a buffer of sorts should the unexpected happen and they don’t win the automatic bid.

But with a schedule that had just two “marquee” non-conference opportunities Boston College’s 4-9 start did Harvard no favors, meaning that games against Colorado (which Harvard lost) and UConn have taken on added importance. Boston College’s visit to Lavietes Pavilion served as another tune-up for the Crimson in advance of conference play and the opportunity to move their win streak in the series to six straight games.

Harvard took care of business on Wednesday afternoon, taking a 17-6 lead just over nine minutes into the game and winning 73-58. Wesley Saunders, one of the Ivy League’s best players, accounted for 21 points and six rebounds to lead the way for a Harvard squad that’s now 12-1 on the season. Kyle Casey (ten rebounds) and Jonah Travis added 11 points apiece for Harvard, whose ability to get to the foul line made the difference in a game that featured 62 possessions.

Harvard outscored Boston College 23-12 from the charity stripe, and entering the game the Crimson’s free throw rate of 46.8 ranked 68th nationally. With front court player such as Saunders and Casey, not to mention a tough penetrator in point guard Siyani Chambers, it’s easy to see why that area would be a strength for Harvard.

Ryan Anderson led Boston College with 17 points and nine rebounds, but he and his teammates were unable to avoid a tenth loss of the season. The team that many expected to make a move in the ACC has become one that prospective NCAA tournament teams will look at with the idea that “we can’t afford to stub our toe,” and that’s not what fans had in mind for Steve Donahue’s team back in October.

While an Ivy League team having a six-game win streak against an ACC opponent is bound to raise some eyebrows, there was no surprise in Harvard’s win. And while the focus should be on Harvard’s building of an NCAA tournament resume, that fact certainly doesn’t bode well for Boston College.

WATCH LIVE: St. Bonaventure hosts Saint Louis on NBCSN

St. Bonaventure's Denzel Gregg celebrates after they defeated St. Joseph's after an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016, in Philadelphia.  (Charles Fox/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP) PHIX OUT; TV OUT; MAGS OUT; NEWARK OUT; MANDATORY CREDIT
(Charles Fox/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)
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St. Bonaventure is looking to keep pace with the Atlantic 10’s elite as they host Saint Louis on Sunday afternoon. You can watch this A-10 contest live on NBCSN at 2:00 p.m. EST.

Coming off of a huge road win at Saint Joseph’s, the Bonnies (14-6, 6-3) have won two consecutive games with a winnable stretch of two more before a key conference clash with George Washington. The trio of Marcus Posley (19.1 ppg), Jaylen Adams (18.5 ppg) and Dion Wright (16.2 ppg) has been putting up a ton of points this season and slowing down that group will be the focal point of the Saint Louis defense.

The Billikens (8-13, 3-6) are coming off of two consecutive double-digit losses and will try to regroup on the road. Senior guard Ash Yacoubou paces the Saint Louis offense at 12.2 points per game and junior guard Mike Crawford (10.9 ppg) is the only other player averaging double-figures.

These two teams will play again on March 5 when the Bonnies head to the Midwest.

CLICK HERE to watch these games on NBC Sports Live Extra Sunday afternoon.

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: Some conference matchups play out before football

Oregon forward Dillon Brooks, left, reacts after scoring a basket against Utah during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Salt Lake City, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016. Oregon defeated Utah 77-59. (AP Photo/George Frey)
(AP Photo/George Frey)
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Utah at No. 16 Oregon, 4:00 p.m.

From Rob Dauster’s Weekend Preview:

Utah suffered one of the worst losses I’ve seen in a while on Thursday night, when Brandon Taylor, for some unknown reason, decided to foul an Oregon State player firing up a half court prayer at the buzzer. The Utes, who are arguably the second-best team in the Pac-12, will look to bounce-back on Sunday against the best team in the Pac-12, No. 16 Oregon at 4:00 p.m.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR:

1. No. 12 SMU will attempt to stay atop the American standings as they travel to South Florida. While the Mustangs won the first matchup between these two teams at home by 14, they’ve dropped their last two games on the road.

2. A few more American contests are going down as East Carolina travels to UConn and Houston heads to Tulsa. The game between the Cougars and Golden Hurricane is especially interesting because both teams are sitting two games back of SMU and trying to make a move on the postseason.

3. No. 5 Iowa continues the soft part of the schedule as they face Illinois on the road. The Hawkeyes posted recent easy victories over Northwestern and Penn State and will be heavily favored again on Sunday.

4. Could be an intriguing game as No. 17 Miami travels to Georgia Tech. Although the Yellow Jackets aren’t a major contender in the ACC, they’ve been tough this season, especially at home. The Hurricanes fell victim to Georgia Tech last season while they were ranked by Marcus Georges-Hunt has to get back on track after a recent slump for that to happen.

5. There is an Atlantic 10 game that will be featured on NBCSN on Sunday: Saint Louis at St. Bonaventure (2:00 p.m.).

CLICK HERE to watch these games on NBC Sports Live Extra Sunday afternoon.