INTRODUCING CINDERELLA: Meet the Yale Bulldogs

(AP Photo/Bryan R. Smith)
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Conference: Ivy League

Coach: James Jones

Record: 22-6, 13-1

Ratings and Rankings:

Kenpom: 40
RPI: 55
AP/USA Today: Not ranked

Seeding: The Elis have just a single top 100 win this season — which is Princeton, who is 37th in the RPI — but every one of their losses came in true road games. Combined with their RPI, which will hover around 50, and they’re looking at a 12 or 13 seed, in all likelihood.

Names you need to know: Justin Sears (16.2 points, 7.5 boards) is the name that everyone is going to know, but Yale also has another talented big man in Brandon Sherrod. Guard Makai Mason will be their x-factor.

Stats you need to know: From a statistical perspective, Yale might be the best rebounding team in the country; they’re the only team in the sport that ranks in the top ten in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage. The problem? Their rebounders — Sears and Sherrod — are 6-foot-8 and 6-foot-6 respectively. They need to draw a team that doesn’t have a ton of size inside if they’re going to have a shot at winning a game in the tournament.

Big wins, bad losses: The only good win on Yale’s profile is Princeton, but they don’t have any bad losses. The only sub-50 RPI losses they suffered came at Albany and at Illinois.

How’d they get here?: The Bulldogs won the Ivy League outright on Saturday night against Columbia, the first time since 1962 that they’re heading for the NCAA tournament. Think about that for a second. It’s been 54 years since Yale won the Ivy League. JFK was still in office at that time, and the first Super Bowl wouldn’t be played for another four years. That’s a long time.

Outlook: We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the cloud currently hanging over the Yale program. Last month, starting point guard Jack Montague left the team and withdrew from school. He was a senior and a caption. After the Yale team wore t-shirts in support of their teammate — and, curiously, with Yale written backwards on the front — posters started showing up on the campus that claimed the basketball team was “supporting a rapist“. This story is going to become a major, major deal, and it will be interesting to see how the Bulldogs handle it. These are not the ideal circumstances for a historic season.

How do I know you?: Yale is in New Haven, which is the home of the world’s best pizza. Go to Sally’s. It’s where the locals eat. Pepe’s, while delicious, is for tourists.