Tommy Amaker

NCAA Tournament Primer: Harvard Crimson

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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.

Stanford loses key veteran guard to stress fracture

Marcus Allen
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Stanford guard Marcus Allen will be out indefinitely after suffering a stress fracture in his right foot, the school announced on Monday evening.

“We want to make sure Marcus is fully healthy before returning to the court,” Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said in a statement. “Marcus played at a high level during our summer exhibition competition in Italy, where he was one of our leading scorers. We will certainly miss him as we continue to prepare for the season, but we are fortunate that this happened now and he will be back before he knows it.”

The loss of Allen is a potentially brutal blow in an already-thin back court. The 6-foot-3 Allen started 23 games as a sophomore last season, averaging 6.4 points and 3.5 boards. But he averaged 11.4 points and 5.4 boards as the Cardinal made a run to the NIT championship and looked poised to be able to replace the departed Chasson Randle’s production this year.

What’s worse is that without Allen, Stanford does not return a single player in their back court that averaged more than 11.5 minutes. Sophomore Robert Cartwright looks poised to step into the starting point guard role, but neither Dorian Pickens nor Christian Sanders looked like they were ready for that kind of role in the Pac-12 last season. Dawkins does return Malcolm Allen, Marcus’ twin brother, who sat out last season with a broken wrist.

The good news is that Stanford’s front court is strong enough to carry the Cardinal until Marcus is healthy. Rosco Allen, Reid Travis and Michael Humphrey will be able to hold their own against any front line in the Pac-12, while Grant Verhoeven and freshman Josh Sharma will provide adequate depth.

Utah lands top-75 center Jayce Johnson

Larry Krystkowiak
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Utah picked up its center of the future on Monday as four-star center Jayce Johnson pledged to the Runnin’ Utes, a source confirmed to The 7-foot Johnson recently cut his list to Cal, Colorado and Utah with the possibility of reclassifying to the Class of 2015.

Regarded as the No. 67 overall prospect in the Class of 2016, Johnson will look to attend Utah in December as a walk-on who will redshirt. While Johnson likely won’t play this season, he does give head coach Larry Krystkowiak another big man to use in practice to go against sophomore center Jakob Poeltl. A solid long-term prospect, Johnson has a good frame to add weight and he’s also skilled finishing with both hands. Utah now has its replacement for Poeltl if he opts to leave for the NBA after the season and he gets an extra semester to work with the program.

Johnson is coming off of his official visit to Utah this weekend as he joins junior college guard Jojo Zamora in the Class of 2016.