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Harvard vs. Vanderbilt
Pick With Analysis
With all of the attention surrounding Jeremy Lin in the past few months, most people have come to a huge realization. Harvard (25-4, RPI: 34) isn't just for the smart kids anymore. OK, well it's just for the smart kids, but those kids can thump a basketball pretty well too! The Crimson has reached the NCAA Tournament for just the second time in school history. They will play the Vanderbilt Commodores (24-10, RPI: 18) who ended their season on an enormous high by defeating the Kentucky Wildcats and capturing the SEC Tournament. Vanderbilt is currently a -5 point favorite, down from an opener of -7.
Harvard plays great defense and most of their games are low scoring. They also shoot the ball well. Their nonconference resume is pretty decent as they dispatched a very good Florida State Seminoles team as well as a better than you might think St Joseph's crew. Inside the conference they traded blows with Pennsylvania and Princeton. They swept Yale and finished 8-2 in their last 10 games.
Vandy did OK outside of the conference. They lost to Xavier and Louisville in OT, but they did beat NC State, Davidson and Marquette. In the SEC they beat Alabama, Kentucky and Florida. Vanderbilt was a very strong 7-3 in their last 10 games.
Junior G John Jenkins leads the Commodores in scoring. He averages 19.9 PPG and he has a killer jump shot. He scored at least 5 three pointers in 9 games this year. His season high was 28 points against North Carolina State.
Senior F Jeffery Taylor is second on the team in scoring at 16.4 PPG. The Swedish player also gets 5.8 RPG. He was very important to their win over Kentucky as he scored 18 points and cleaned the glass for 11 rebounds. Senior F Lance Goulbourne is also worth mentioning. He adds 8.9 PPG and 6.9 RPG to the 'Dores cause on averages.
Harvard gets most of their strength down low. Junior F Kyle Casey averages 11.3 PPG and 5.5 RPG. The 6-7 player had a season high 26 points against St Joseph's. Senior F Keith Wright gets 10.7 PPG and 8.1 RPG. His best performance of the season came against Columbia in the Ivy League Tournament when he scored 16 points and grabbed 8 rebounds. Junior G Brandyn Curry is almost important. He adds 7.8 PPG and also dishes 5 APG.
Vanderbilt will be seeking their first Tournament win since reaching the Sweet Sixteen in 2007. Their last two appearances were heart breaking victories. Last year they were sent home by Richmond after losing by just 3 points and the year before that Murray State beat them by a single point. The Commodores haven't forgotten that.
We have to admit that we'll be rooting for Harvard here. Hey, this is March Madness, and it could be a great story. They certainly wouldn't be the first Ivy League team to make a run in the tourney. But we also think the value here lies with Vanderbilt after seeing the line move from -7 to -5. We'll take the two bonus points here with Vandy. Our Pick - Vanderbilt -5
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