In another example of a No. 12 seed “upset” over a No. 5 seed, Harvard advanced to the Round of 32 with a victory over Cincinnati on Thursday at Spokane Arena, 61-57.
The Crimson entered the game as just three-point underdogs. In 27 of the last 30 years, a No.12 seed has advanced to the next round.
Harvard’s win was also a major accomplishment for the Ivy League. Harvard became the first school in the conference to earn wins in consecutive years since Princeton in 1983-1984. In 2013, The Crimson were a No. 14 seed and knocked off No. 3 New Mexico.
Cincinnati took an early lead within the first six minutes, 6-5, but Harvard would go on a 7-0 run, and never relinquish the lead. The Crimson led by as many as nine points in the second half.
The Bearcats battled back to keep the score close in the last seven minutes. In the final two minutes, the Crimson got a boost from guard Siyani Chambers, who converted three free throws to go along with a field goal to hold off Mick Cronin’s side.
Harvard entered the tournament as one of the top defensive teams in the nation. The Crimson held the Bearcats to just 36.8 percent shooting.
Tommy Amaker’s squad shot 43.2 percent from the field, while committing just 15 fouls. The Crimson went to the free-throw line 27 times compared to the Bearcats, who had 16 trips to the stripe.
Guard Wesley Saunders scored 12 points and added four assists and two steals for the Crimson. Cincinnati was led by Sean Kilpatrick, who converted six of his 13 field-goal attempts for 18 points.
Harvard will face the winner of Michigan State – Delaware on Saturday.