Harvard (24-4) at Yale (15-11)
GAME NOTES: The Harvard Crimson can punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament with a win this evening against the Yale Bulldogs, as the two long-time Ivy League rivals meet at the Lee Amphitheater in New Haven, Connecticut.
Harvard is a stellar 24-4 on the season, and it has won 11 of its 12 Ivy bouts. Should they lose tonight, the Crimson, who have a two-game lead on Yale with only two games remaining, can also win the league title outright by beating Brown on Saturday. Harvard earned at least a share of its fourth consecutive Ivy League crown last Saturday by routing visiting Columbia, 80-47.
Yale is only four games over .500 on the season (15-11), but has enjoyed the bulk of its success against the rest of the Ancient Eight, logging a 9-3 league ledger. The Bulldogs, who are 8-2 at home this season, took out Penn in Philadelphia last Saturday, 70-63, putting the brakes on a brief two-game slide in the process.
Yale can earn a share of the Ivy title by sweeping its weekend bouts and hoping Harvard loses out, thus setting up another matchup with the Crimson next week at The Palestra in Philadelphia to determine which team will represent the Ivy League in the NCAA Tournament.
Yale handed Harvard its only league loss of the season back on Feb. 8 in Cambridge, 74-67, snapping what had been a 20-game home winning streak for the Crimson. The Bulldogs lead the all-time series, 114-73.
Harvard leads the league in several statistical categories, not the least of which is scoring offense (72.9 ppg) and scoring defense (59.4 ppg). That latter figure actually has the team ranked 10th in the country, and the unit features three double-digit scorers in Wesley Saunders (14.0 ppg, 3.9 apg), Siyani Chambers (11.0 ppg, 4.6 apg) and Kyle Casey (10.0 ppg, 5.6 rpg). The Crimson are the top shooting team in the league (.465 overall, .389 from 3- point range), while also pacing the conference in both blocked shots (5.0 bpg) and steals (8.1 spg).
Harvard shot a sizzling 60 percent from the floor while holding Dartmouth to just 34.1 percent in last Saturday's lopsided win, and the Crimson had four starters score in double figures. Laurent Rivard led the way with a line consisting of 21 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, Steve Moundou-Missi added 16 points, and Casey and Saunders chipped in with 10 points apiece.
Yale's success this season can't really be attributed to anything other than a total team effort, as the club is in the middle of the Ivy pack in most statistical categories. The one area in the which the Bulldogs do excel is on the glass (league-leading +4.2 rebounding margin). From a scoring perspective, Yale puts up 67.2 ppg while yielding 65.9 ppg, both of which rank in the bottom half of the Ivy, although the team boasts one the league's top scorers in Justin Sears (16.3 ppg). He is one of only two Bulldogs averaging double figures on the season however, as Javier Duren nets 12.7 ppg. Sears is also the team's top rebounder (6.9 rpg), while Duren serves as its primary playmaker (3.1 apg).
Sears hit for 24 points and Duren tacked on 14 more, helping Yale knock off Penn on the road last weekend. The Bulldogs were actually outshot in the game (.455 to .382), but used a substantial 24-8 edge in points from the foul line along with a 40-29 rebounding advantage to escape with the victory.
This should be a hard-fought game between two teams with plenty to play for. The Crimson would love nothing more than to win the Ivy outright while exacting revenge for their only league loss of the season. However, the Bulldogs aren't about to roll over and play dead, and in fact, expect them to earn the season sweep of Harvard, thus adding further drama in the Ivy League for at least one more day.
GAME NOTES: The Harvard Crimson can punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament
with a win this evening against the Yale Bulldogs, as the two long-time Ivy
League rivals meet at the Lee Amphitheater in New Haven, Connecticut.Fact Stats
FACTS & STATS: Site: John J. Lee Amphitheater (2,800) -- New Haven,
Connecticut. Television: NBCSN. Home Record: Harvard 11-1, Yale 8-2. Away
Record: Harvard 9-3, Yale 6-9. Neutral Record: Harvard 4-0, Yale 1-0.
Conference Record: Harvard 11-1, Yale 9-3. Series Record: Yale leads, 114-73.Game Date and Time
Friday, March 7, 7:30 p.m. (ET)Predicted Outcome
Yale 65, Harvard 63