Harvard Basketball: Keys to Keeping Cinderella Story Alive

Tyler BrookeSenior Analyst IIMarch 23, 2013

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - MARCH 21:  Head coach Tommy Amaker of the Harvard Crimson and Jonah Travis #24 react in the second half while taking on the New Mexico Lobos during the second round of the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at EnergySolutions Arena on March 21, 2013 in Salt Lake City, Utah.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

In order for the Harvard Crimson to keep this Cinderella story alive, they will need to focus on a couple of aspects of their game against the Arizona Wildcats in the Round of 32.

The Crimson busted a lot of brackets in the Round of 64, but they aren’t looking for their season to come to an end just yet.  It will be a tough matchup against the Wildcats, but if they focus on doing a few things well, they can move on to the Sweet 16.


Make Three-Pointers

If there’s one weakness for the Wildcats, it’s their defense against three-point shots.  They allow their opponents to shoot 35.7 percent from behind the arc, one of the worst in the tournament.

A lot of people don’t know this about the Crimson, but they are a very good three-point shooting team.  They’ve shot an incredible 40.3 percent from three, good enough for sixth best in the NCAA.  They were able to show the country their three-point efficiency against New Mexico, going 8-for-18.

The Wildcats, however, were able to show that they are capable of defending the three.  They held a very good shooting team in Belmont to only 8-for-27 from downtown.

Making threes will be critical for the Crimson to win this game, and they will need to get guys open from long range.


Avoid Excessive Fouling

While no team should be afraid to foul, the Crimson will still need to be very careful about taking bad ones, especially once the Wildcats get into the bonus or double bonus.

One of the reasons the Wildcats are such a good team is their impressive free-throw shooting.  They shoot 74.6 percent from the line, the 25th best in the nation.  In particular, they most avoid fouling Mark Lyons.  He leads the team in scoring while also leading them in free-throw attempts and percentage.  He goes to the line an average of 4.1 times per game and makes 85.3 percent of his shots from the charity stripe.

The Crimson do a good job of limiting chances for opponents at the line with their opponents averaging only 16.6 free throws per game.  As long as they continue limiting those chances, the Wildcats will be unable to get as many from the line as they’re used to.


Get Wesley Saunders Going Early

As long as Wesley Saunders continues playing well as he has all season, the Crimson are in pretty good shape.  He has been spectacular for Harvard, averaging 16.5 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.9 steals per game.  He’s been deadly accurate all year, shooting 54 percent from the field and 50 percent from behind the arc.

Saunders was the main reason for the upset against New Mexico in their first game.  He went 5-for-8 from the field and was the leading scorer for the Crimson with 18 points.

The Crimson will rely on Saunders heavily once again against the Wildcats.  If he plays as well as he did against the Lobos, the Wildcats are in big trouble.


Link to Printable PDF

Link to Live Bracket


Follow all the exciting NCAA tournament action with March Madness Live