The first Thursday and Friday of the NCAA Tournament are often the most exciting. With 32 games on the schedule, many will come down to the wire, and there are certain to be a few upsets.
Day One of the second round features several fun matchups, though one might stand out from the rest. No.5 seed Cincinnati plays No.12 Harvard in what has a good chance of being the most entertaining of Thursday’s 16 games.
Seven seeds separate the two teams, but the odds of Harvard pulling off an upset are promising. The Crimson are just a three-point underdog, according to Las Vegas casinos, giving their contest just the second lowest point spread of the day.
No.12 seeds have a history of defeating No.5 seeds during March Madness. In the last 29 years, at least one of the No.12 seeds has advanced to the next round 26 times. On three different occasions, all but one No.5 seed was knocked off in the field of 64, including last year.
Led by head coach Tommy Amaker, Harvard has been a threat in the NCAA Tournament, over the past few seasons. In 2012, Harvard failed to pull off the upset as a No.12 seed, losing to Vanderbilt in a close matchup. A year ago, the Crimson entered the tournament as a No.14 seed, upending No.3 New Mexico.
With juniors and seniors getting the majority of the playing time, Harvard is unlike most high seeds that are trying to get a victory. Their players are experienced, and appear to have what it takes to shine on the big stage. The Crimson has just four losses on the season, and won’t be a pushover for anyone in the Tournament.
Cincinnati enters the contest ranked 15th in the nation. In the first year of the AAC, they won a share of the conference title, going 15-3 in league play. They also picked up seven wins against tournament teams. If they can get by Harvard, they have a solid chance to make a deep run.
The Bearcats are led by one of the best players in the nation. Senior Sean Kilpatrick is Cincinnati’s standout, averaging 20.7 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game.