NCAA Tournament Bracket 2012: Preview Game Harvard Against Vanderbilt

Max RogersCorrespondent IMarch 12, 2012

AP photo/Michael Dwyer
AP photo/Michael Dwyer

March Madness has begun with the 68 teams that make up the 2012 NCAA basketball tournament bracket now decided.

In the second round of the NCAA basketball tournament, two teams that each accomplished incredible feats this year will meet up. No. 12 seed Harvard will play No. 5 seed Vanderbilt in the East region of the 2012 NCAA basketball tournament on March 15 (4:40 p.m. Eastern). This game has the potential to result in a major upset on NCAA basketball tournament 2012 brackets. 

Harvard (26-4) finished the regular season as the outright Ivy League champion for the first time in the university’s history. The 2012 NCAA tournament will be the Crimson’s second appearance since making the tournament for the first time 1946. Harvard’s 26 wins this season was also a program record.

Harvard’s first game in the tournament will not be an easy one, as the Crimson will be facing Vanderbilt (23-10), a team that beat the No. 1 overall seed, Kentucky, to win the SEC tournament title. The winner of the match will face the winner of the No. 4 seed Wisconsin (24-9) against No. 13 seed Montana (25-6) game in the East region.

Syracuse (31-2) received the No. 1 seed, and Ohio State (27-7) received the No. 2 seed, in the East region.

Giving confidence to the Crimson squad is their 46-41 win over No. 3 seed, Florida State (24-9), earlier in the season. Florida State is also in the East region of the NCAA tournament. The Seminoles, who won the ACC tournament title, are up against the Atlantic 10 tournament winner, No. 14 seed St. Bonaventure (20-11), in the second round. 

Harvard will be looking to defeat another power-conference tournament champion in the game. On the Crimson’s side is the number of upsets that No. 12 seeds have over No. 5 seeds in the NCAA basketball tournament. Historically, it is one of the best bets for tournament upsets.

Aside from Florida State, the Crimson only played one other AP Top 25 team this season, Connecticut.  In that game Harvard lost 67-53 to the then-No. 9 Connecticut Huskies. 

Vanderbilt has previously made the NCAA basketball tournament 12 times with a 9-13 win-loss record in the March Madness event. The Commodores have lost in the first round in their last three NCAA appearances (2008, 2010 and 2011).

This season, the Vanderbilt Commodores have faced nine AP Top 25 teams, with a win-loss record of 3-6. In the regular season, the Commodores beat then-No. 14 Marquette, 74-57, and then-No. 16 Florida, 77-67.

Vanderbilt beat then No. 1 Kentucky, 71-64, in the SEC Conference title game. 

Vanderbilt’s losses to AP Top 25 teams this season include to: then-No. 12 Xavier, then-No. 6 Louisville, then-No 18 Mississippi State, then-No. 12 Florida, and two losses to then-No. 1 Kentucky. 

Recently, the Commodores have been playing at a top level. Their defeat of arguably the current best team, or at least the most consistent, in NCAA Division I men’s basketball, Kentucky (32-2), shows how tough Vanderbilt can be.

The Commodores are beatable however, and Harvard is definitely capable of pulling off the upset in this match if they play at their top level. The Crimson who finished their regular season on March 3, will have also had more time to rest up before the NCAA tournament second-round game.

Vanderbilt’s point leader, junior guard John Jenkins, averaged 20 points per game this season. In comparison, Harvard’s leading scorer, junior guard Kyle Casey, averaged 11.3 points per game. 

This matchup promises to be a great one, with a potential for Harvard to pull of a huge upset by defeating their second power-conference tournament champion this season. However, it will not be an easy feat for the Crimson, as Vanderbilt is currently playing at the best they have all season.