For the third straight year, it appears that Harvard (22-4, 9-1) will make the tournament, allowing experts a unique opportunity to trot out the same lame jokes about the Crimson Nerds. Laugh it up, because evidently, brains win games. Last year the Ivy’s best sent 3-seed New Mexico home in the round of 64.
The Ivy does not have a conference tournament, simply sending the regular season champion or playoff tiebreaker winner to the dance. As a result, Harvard likely needs to beat rival Yale one more time – in either their March 7th showdown at Yale or in a one game playoff – to gain the automatic birth to the NCAA Tournament. Continue reading
Wichita State is a great team, but are they a Final Four team?
Despite the numerous successes of non power-conference schools in the NCAA Tournament, it has remained rare for a mid-major to assume a top seed. This season, Wichita State looks poised to sit on the top line of their region. Though the 25-0 Shockers are not a lock for a one-seed, their impressive play and talented roster make enter the tournament as a title contender to many, regardless of what seed they are given.
After last year’s impressive run to the Final Four, the Shockers have returned key pieces for the 2013-2014 campaign – including leading scorer Cleanthony Early. The senior is once again the team’s leading scorer, averaging more than 16 points per game on very efficient shooting (46-35-85). Sophomores Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet both average double digits, while also leading the team in assists. VanVleet, in particular, is lethal from deep, shooting 41%. However, he’s choosy, and Early and Baker take the majority of the outside shots.
Potential Cinderella: The Green Bay Phoenix
The Phoenix (21-5, 11-2) have been waiting for their turn to dance. Last season, Green Bay was seconds away from meeting Wright State in the Horizon League Championship game, before Valparaiso hit a buzzer beating three to break the Phoenix heart. But this year seems different.
Fresh off completing a dominating sweep of second place Cleveland State, the Phoenix can virtually wrap up the Horizon regular season with a win Thursday, which will grant them an automatic birth in the conference tournament semi-finals and home-court advantage throughout. Assuming they win the tournament – or get an unlikely at-large birth – the Phoenix have a roster that can make some tournament noise. Maybe even second weekend noise.
Senior Alec Brown has tallied 1,600+ points and bagged more than 750 rebounds in his Phoenix career. A 7’1 senior who shoots 42% from beyond the arc, Brown is equally comfortable stretching the defense or going to work in the paint. Futhermore, his 3.1 blocks per game is a full block per game more than anybody else in the Horizon League. A good finish to the season, especially in the NCAA Tournament, would help Alec Brown earn an NBA draft selection in June. However talented, Brown is not even the go to player for the Phoenix.