March Madness Picks: Harvard vs. Vanderbilt
Conference champs collide on the first full day of NCAA Tournament betting action on Thursday, as the Harvard Crimson take on the Vanderbilt Commodores.
It wasn’t that long ago that the Cornell Big Red went on a great run out of the Ivy League, but it also isn’t all that often that anyone else in this league can talk about tourney success… especially Harvard, which finally has its place on the dance floor for the first time in nearly seven decades. The Crimson aren’t your typical Ivy League team, though. When you think of the Ivy Leaguers, you think of guys that aren’t all that athletic but that are really smart and make up for a lack of talent by shooting the ball lights out from beyond the arc. Not so much with Harvard. This team really plays relentless defense. Yes, some of that is due to the Princeton style of offense that Head Coach Tommy Amakar prefers to use, but some of that really is some great athleticism. Don’t think that Harvard can’t score, though. Kyle Casey and Keith Wright are the types of players that, in spite of some somewhat suspect scoring totals for team leaders, can take over games all by themselves.
This was an odd last week of the year in college hoops, knowing that the top teams almost all lost at some point in their conference tournaments. Normally, the teams that come out of nowhere to win these conferences, especially the power six ones, end up floundering relatively early in the dance, knowing that the team put everything that it had into just getting to the point to be here in the bracket. Last year though, we saw the Connecticut Huskies go from a bubble team to the one cutting down the nets for the National Championship, and now, many think that Vandy can do the same. John Jenkins and Jeffrey Taylor are the types of scorers that can get the job done, and the depth is definitely there in the frontcourt as well, led by Festus Ezeli. Jenkins was one of the top men in the SEC this year, averaging 19.9 points per game. He shot 44.8 percent from the land of trey. Taylor is forgotten at times, but at 16.4 points and 5.8 boards per game with a 49.9 percent shooting percentage and a 43.2 shooting percent from beyond the arc, this is a real difference maker.
The Final Word: Still, we just don’t see how Vandy is going to have all that much left in the tank. The team just isn’t all that consistent, and though that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have the ability to go on that UConn type of run, we just think that the businesslike Crimson are going to be good enough to pull off the upset.
Harvard Crimson vs. Vanderbilt Commodores Pick: Harvard Crimson +6.5