Tiny Dancers: Harvard

By Jeff Borzello | College Basketball Writer

After missing the NCAA tournament for 66 seasons, Harvard is headed back for the second year in a row. (Getty)
After missing the NCAA tournament for 66 seasons, Harvard is headed back for the second year in a row. (Getty)

After going 66 years without an NCAA tournament appearance, Harvard won the Ivy League last season and made the field.

And now, the Crimson are heading back to the dance.

They went into the week one game behind Princeton in the league standings, but wins over Columbia and Cornell – combined with Princeton dropping games to Yale and Brown – has given the conference title to Harvard.

Tommy Amaker has truly transformed Harvard since coming aboard, winning at least 21 games each of the past three seasons, and then going 19-9 this year. It wasn't easy, though, as the Crimson overcame the season-long academic suspensions of Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry to win the conference. They tested themselves in the non-conference season, beating California and Boston College on the road, and also giving Connecticut, Saint Mary's and Memphis tough tests.

They're not as talented as a year ago, but there are still plenty of weapons on the offensive end, and the Crimson are battle-tested and won't be intimidated by their first-round opponent.

Player to know: Wesley Saunders. Saunders, a sophomore forward from Los Angeles, has really blossomed in his second season in Cambridge. After averaging just 3.3 points a year ago, Saunders has become a go-to-guy on the offensive end, putting up nearly 17 per game and shooting 54.8 percent from the field. He has also been a consistent playmaker, dishing out more than three assists per game.

The Vitals:

  • Record: 19-9 overall, 11-3 in Ivy
  • Most recent tournament appearance: 2012
  • Jerry Palm predicts: 14 seed
  • KenPom ranking: 103
  • Sagarin ranking: 104
  • RPI: 97
  • Best wins: California, Boston College
  • Worst losses: Columbia, Penn
  • Notable stat: The Crimson get to the free-throw line as well as anyone in the country. Their free-throw rate is No. 2 in the nation, according to KenPom.com, and they also get nearly a quarter of their points off free throws, which ranks No. 11 in the country. On the other end, they rank No. 29 in fewest fouls committed per game.

For more college basketball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnCBB on Twitter, subscribe to our RSS Feed and subscribe to our College Basketball Newsletter. You can follow Jeff Borzello on Twitter here: @jeffborzello

 
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