College Basketball Preseason Top 25: #23 Harvard


Chambers (left) and Saunders (right) were two big reasons why Harvard stunned New Mexico in the NCAAs last season. (AP Photo)

23. Harvard Crimson

No, this isn’a typo. And no, we haven’t lost our minds. Tommy Amaker has just been that good at Harvard, which has a legitimate chance to finish the season in the Top 25 for the first time ever. The Crimson should be much improved over last year’s 20-10 squad that captured the Ivy League title and shocked New Mexico in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The main reason for that is that senior guard Brandyn Curry and senior forward Kyle Casey, who may have been the team’s two best players in 2011-12, are back after a year-long sabbatical in the wake of an academic cheating scandal.

Harvard got along just fine without Curry (7.9 ppg, 4.9 apg) and Casey (11.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg), but will be even better with both of them back in the lineup. Casey was a potential Ivy League Player of the Year candidate coming into last season, and his numbers would be more impressive if it weren’t for the Crimson’s grind-it-out style. Per possession, he was one of the more proficient mid-major scorers in 2012, shooting 51 percent from the field.

Curry was a savvy point guard and tough defender who knew how to distribute the ball and lock people up on defense. He’ll probably be coming off the bench when he returns though, because in his absence the Crimson found a star in Ivy League Rookie of the Year Siyani Chambers, who averaged 12.4 points and 5.7 assists per game. He and sharpshooting senior Laurent Rivard (10.3 ppg, 40.2% 3-pointers) make up an excellent backcourt tandem. And we still haven’t mentioned 6-5 junior Wesley Saunders, who is the team’s top returning scorer (16.2 ppg) and finished second in the Ivy in points per game.

BOTTOM LINE: It’s all coming together for Tommy Amaker at Harvard. The Crimson were supposed to take a step back after losing Casey and Curry last year, but they overachieved in going 20-10 and winning a game in the NCAA Tournament. Now, their experience of players like Chambers, Saunders and forward Steve Moundo-Missi (honorable mention All-Ivy) will help as Harvard chases its best season ever. Remember that 2010 Cornell team that ran all the way to the Sweet 16? Harvard has the talent–and the experience–to follow the Big Red’s blueprint and replicate that type of run.

Click here to see our Entire Top 25.

Click here to see No. 25 in our rankings.

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  1. Pingback: College Basketball Top 25: #22 Iowa Hawkeyes

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