Harvard Heading to Spokane to Face Cincinnati in NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament
Courtesy of Harvard Athletic Communications
Photo courtesy of Gil Talbot
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Harvard received a 12th seed in the upcoming NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship and will face fifth-seeded Cincannti in the second round on Thursday, March 20.
Tipoff is set for 2:10 p.m. EDT on TNT.
Harvard became the first team in the nation to punch its ticket to March Madness last Friday when it defeated Yale in New Haven, 70-58. The Crimson had clinched a share of its fourth straight Ivy League championship the previous Saturday with an 80-47 win over Columbia, and secured the title outright with the victory versus the Eli.
Harvard will enter the NCAA tournament with momentum on its side, having won each of its last eight games with six of those victories coming by double-digits. The Crimson has posted a 26-4 record overall to match the highest win total in program history, and finished Ivy League play with a school record 13-1 mark. Harvard captured the 2013 Great Alaska Shootout championship along the way, went 11-1 on its home floor, and completed the Ancient Eight schedule with a perfect 7-0 road record for the first time in program history.
Harvard is the first team to win four straight Ivy League championships since Penn did so from 1993-96, and is the first program in the conference to post five consecutive 20-win seasons since Penn did it a record six times from 1970-75.
The Crimson will be appearing in its third straight NCAA tournament and fourth overall. Harvard first went dancing in 1946 before enduring a 66 year drought that came to an end in 2012. The Crimson returned to March Madness in 2013, and earned the program's first postseason victory when it upset third-seeded New Mexico in the second round, 68-62.
One of the keys to the team's success this season has been its offensive balance, as all five starters average in double-digits with a sixth contributing more than 9.0 ppg. Junior Wesley Saunders leads the way at 14.0 ppg, with sophomore Siyani Chambers chipping in 11.1 ppg. Steve Moundou-Missi (10.5), Kyle Casey (10.0) and Laurent Rivard (10.0) have each added at least 10.0 points per contest to go with 9.3 ppg from Brandyn Curry.
Harvard's defense has also been a strength, as the Crimson ranks 13th in the NCAA in points allowed (60.5) and is ninth in the country in scoring margin (+13.1). Opponents have shot just 40.7 percent from the field and 32.0 percent from three-point range, both the lowest totals under seventh-year head coach Tommy Amaker.
The Crimson's opponent in the second round, Cincinnati, earned its trip to the NCAA tournament as an at-large bid. The Bearcats posted a 27-6 record overall while going 15-3 in conference play, and is led by American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year selection Justin Jackson.
Harvard will be competing in the East Region, with third round action taking place on March 22-23. The winner of Thursday's showdown will meet either 4th-seeded Michigan State (26-8) or 13th-seeded Delaware (25-9).