The last time we were talking Harvard University in the Queen City was when Ryan Fitzpatrick started the final 13 games for the 2008 Cincinnati Bengals, finishing with a 4-8-1 record before departing to Buffalo the following season. Now the Cincinnati Bearcats (27-6) will square off with the Harvard Crimson (26-4).
UC will look to comeback from last year’s opening round four point loss to Creighton. The first round exit last season was the first one and done tournament appearance for the Bearcats since a 74-59 loss at the hands of Gonzaga took them out early back in 2003.
Since starting the season 24-3, Cincinnati has cooled down splitting their final six games (3-3). There is no doubt that Sean Kilpatrick is the heart of this Bearcat team. In the final season for the Redshirt Senior, Kilpatrick has dominated nearly every offensive category for Cronin’s bunch. Kilpatrick takes over 50% of the shots for UC and has been the leading scorer in 30 out of 33 contests this season and the last 19. The only other Bearcat to average in double digit points is Justin Jackson. The Senior from Florida is just two rebounds away from a double-double average (11 ppg, 8 rpg). These two as well as the other three starters (Rubles, Thomas and Guyn) will all have to step up if the Bearcats want to make a big run.
Harvard is going to the dance for the third straight season since they ended a 65 year drought with a bid back in 2012. Harvard won their first NCAA tournament game in team history last season in the opening round six point win over New Mexico as 14 seed. I will add that was the first 14 seed to beat a no. 3 since my Ohio Bobcats dominated Georgetown back in 2010 (OU Oh Yeah).
For Harvard it’s been a different streak. With UC going .500 the final six games, Harvard has won 12 out of their last 13 games dating back to January 26th. Harvard doesn’t seem to have a Sean Kilpatrick but more of a spread out scoring average. The Crimson’s scoring is widely attributed by their guard play. Junior Guard Wesley Sanders averages 14 per game while Senior Guard Laurent Rivard and Sophomore Siyana Chambers each average eleven points per contest. Recently, its been Steve-Moundou-Missi who averaged 18.5 points per game in the final three games of the season leading Harvard to the Ivy League Title.
One final stat is that the Bearcats have averaged 68 points per game while only surrendering 58 points per game to the opposition. Harvard on the other hand, averages 73 points per game while giving up 70 points per game. With a 15 point difference between UC’s opposition scoring and Harvard’s offensive scoring, something has to give when the two teams matchup in Washington.
Game start time is scheduled for 2:10 p.m ET on Thursday.