Tommy Amaker

NCAA Tournament Primer: Harvard Crimson

Leave a comment

Get to know all of the NCAA Tournament’s automatic bids here.

Conference: Ivy League

Coach: Tommy Amaker

Record: 25-4 (12-1 Ivy League)

Rankings and Ratings:

– Kenpom: 33
– RPI: 52
– AP/USA Today: Not ranked

Seeding?: In Dave Ommen’s most recent bracket the Crimson are a 12-seed.

Names you need to know: Wesley Saunders (14.0 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 3.9 apg), Siyani Chambers (11.0 ppg, 4.6 apg), Kyle Casey (10.0 ppg, 5.6 rpg)

Stats you need to know: Harvard ranks 25th nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency per Ken Pomeroy’s numbers, and they’re a top 100 team in offensive efficiency as well. Harvard currently ranks second in the Ivy League in both field goal and three-point percentage defense, and they allow just 0.91 points per possession. Offensively Harvard leads the Ivy League in both field goal and three-point percentage, and their 39.3% shooting from deep ranks 18th nationally.

Tendencies: This group is more balanced than the team that knocked off New Mexico in the NCAA tournament a season ago. While Saunders and Chambers are leading the way offensively they’ve got more help and the return of Casey and classmate Brandyn Curry is one reason why. Three players average double digits and three more are averaging between 9.4 and 9.9 points per game. Chambers can be difficult to defend in ball-screen situations, and the other players do a good job of finding their spots within the offense. Defensively, the Crimson play man-to-man the majority of the time.

Big wins, bad losses: The Crimson beat two regular season conference champions during non-conference play, taking care of both Green Bay (Horizon League) and Vermont (America East). And their lone “bad loss” came at Florida Atlantic in early January.

How’d they get here?: Clinched the Ivy League regular season title with a 70-58 win at Yale, earning the league’s automatic bid as a result.

Outlook: This is an group that not only has NCAA tournament experience but winning once there as well. With the right matchup the Crimson, now with Curry and Casey in the fold, could duplicate last season’s accomplishment.

How do I know you?: Harvard’s reached three straight NCAA tournaments, knocking off 3-seed New Mexico in their first game a season ago before falling to Arizona.

Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament chances take a major blow in loss to No. 16 SMU

SMU guard Nic Moore (11) shoots over Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
Leave a comment

Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.

The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.

It wasn’t pretty.

And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.

Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.

The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.

But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Leave a comment

Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: