Photo: AP Images
Harvard is in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 1940s, and now a bunch of people are picking them to upset Vanderbilt.But they won’t, here’s why:
First of all, here’s why people like them:
- They play really good defence (4th in points per game nationally).
- They grind you out offensively (44th in shooting percentage).
- And they have big, athletic players who were recruited more heavily than typical Ivy League players (Keith Wright and Kyle Casey).
- They beat Florida State, and Florida State is really good.
But their defensive numbers are deceiving. They only played one team ranked in the top 100 in scoring offence (Seattle, who is terrible and scored 70 points on Harvard).
Their offence isn’t the type of offence that “Cinderella” teams in the NCAA Tournament typically have. They don’t shoot threes (ranked 236th in three-pointers attempted) or make threes (119th in three-point percentage). They rank 309th in the country in offensive rebounding. They rank 148th in free-throws attempted. And they don’t take care of the ball (ranked 92th in turnovers).
Harvard relies on their defence to produce offence. Wright and Casey can score inside, but they are far from an elite team in the half court.
Vanderbilt is a bad match-up for Harvard. Against the right opponent, this defensive-minded, power Harvard team would definitely have a chance.
But Vanderbilt has guards who can both make three-pointers and penetrate (something Harvard struggled with against Penn’s Zack Rosen). In addition, they have a big-man inside in Festus Ezeli who can match-up with Wright and Casey and get them in foul trouble.
So while it’s fun pick Harvard and make a bunch of nerd jokes in the process, look elsewhere when you’re trying to find this year’s first-round upset.
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