NCAA Tournament Predictions: East Regional 5. Vanderbilt vs. 12. Harvard

By: Kels Dayton

 5 Vanderbilt (24-10, 10-6 SEC)-Vanderbilt had high expectations coming into this season, and lived up to them when they captured the SEC Championship by defeating No. 1 Kentucky in New Orleans.

Guard John Jenkins (AP/Gerald Herbert)

Vandy has the experience and scoring punch necessary to make a deep run in the NCAAs, and matches up very well with the East region’s top seed, Syracuse, because the Commodores are capable of shooting their way past the Orange’s 2-3 zone.

Junior guard John Jenkins is scary-good from the three-point line, averaging 20 points per game and draining threes at a 45 percent clip. Forward Jeffery Taylor (16.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg) adds some versatility to the Commodores’ offense, and 6-11 center Festus Ezeli has the size and strength to challenge anyone inside.

Vanderbilt is also playing with a chip on its shoulder after being bounced in the first round of the tournament as a higher seed in back-to-back years.


4th Three-point field goal percentage (42.3)

3rd Three-point field goals made (294)

7th Offensive efficiency (109.6)

Team stats courtesy of


 12 Harvard (26-4, 12-2 Ivy)- Tommy Amaker’s Crimson won the Ivy League and received an invitation to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1946. Harvard has done it with stellar defense, holding opponents to just 53.6 points per game. The Crimson suffocated Florida State in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in November and held the Seminoles to just 41 points.

Guard Kyle Casey leads the Crimson with 11.3 points per game. (Photo: Harvard University Athletics)

Harvard is also a terrific three-point shooting team, and has considerable weapons in guard Oliver McNally , Laurent Rivard, and floor general Brandyn Curry.

The Crimson probably aren’t as dangerous as the 2010 Cornell team that went to the Sweet 16, but pop in the tape from the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, and it’ll scare the living daylight out of you. Harvard spent weeks in the national rankings, so this team has confidence that it can play with the big boys. It would not be a shock to see the Crimson make an NCAA run.


3rd Points Allowed per game (53.6)

44th Field Goal Percentage (46.7)

32nd Defensive Field Goal Percentage (40.6)

BOTTOM LINE: Harvard is a candidate to knock off Vanderbilt because the Crimson play in-your-shorts defense and held the region’s 3 seed, Florida State to 41 points in a win over the Seminoles in November. Still, Vanderbilt has lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in each of its last three appearances (2008, 2010, 2011) and will be hungry to prove that they can advance in the NCAAs. The Commodores also boast one of the best shooting guards in the country in John Jenkins (19.9 ppg, 47.8 FG Pct), and are a much better offensive team, averaging 72.9 points per game compared to Harvard’s 65.4. Take Vandy in this game.



PREDICTION: Vanderbilt  

Team stats courtesy of

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