Harvard (25-4) at Brown (15-12)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 8, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Pizzitola Sports Center (2,800) -- Providence, Rhode Island. Television: None. Home Record: Harvard 11-1, Brown 8-4. Away Record: Harvard 10-3, Brown 7-8. Neutral Record: Harvard 4-0, Brown 0-0. Conference Record: Harvard 12-1, Brown 7-6. Series Record: Harvard leads, 95-74.
GAME NOTES: A night after clinching the outright Ivy League championship, the Harvard Crimson will close out the regular season with a road matchup on Saturday against the Brown Bears at the Pizzitola Sports Center.
Harvard took down Yale on Friday night, 70-58, to clinch its third consecutive league championship and in the process became the first team in the country to punch a ticket to the NCAA Tournament. The Crimson have won seven in a row to move to 12-1 in the league, and at 25-4 overall, they are just one win shy of a program record, having previously won 26 games during the 2011-12 season.
Brown has enjoyed a solid season at 15-12 overall and 7-6 in league action, but it has not fared well in March with back-to-back losses. The Bears dropped a home bout to Dartmouth on Friday, 75-68, but they are still an impressive 8-4 at the Pizzitola Sports Center.
Harvard took down Brown at home on Feb. 7, 52-45, to extend their series winning streak to nine game. The Crimson hold a 95-74 advantage all-time.
The Crimson made a statement early in their latest contest by opening up a 13- point halftime lead over Yale and managed to cruise to victory from that point forward to clinch the title. They shot a lofty 56.8 percent from the field while holding the Bulldogs to just 36 percent shooting, which was the solid all-around performance they needed considering their dreadful showing from the free-throw line (14-of-32). Siyani Chambers led the way with 17 points and also got his teammates involved with six assists. Steve Moundou-Missi netted 16 points, while Brandyn Curry came off the bench to score 14.
Harvard has grown accustomed to strong performances on both ends of the floor this season, as it not only shoots 46.7 percent from the field for 72.8 ppg, but it also ranks in the top-10 nationally in scoring defense in allowing a mere 59.4 ppg. Wesley Saunders leads the team in scoring with 13.8 ppg and chips in across the board with 4.6 rpg, 3.9 apg, 1.8 spg and 0.8 bpg. Rounding out the deep attack are Chambers (11.2 ppg, 4.7 apg), Moundou-Missi (10.1 ppg, 5.6 rpg), Kyle Casey (9.8 ppg, 5.6 apg), Laurent Rivard (9.7 ppg) and Curry (9.6 ppg).
Although the Bears were knotted up with Dartmouth midway through the second half on Friday night, the Mean Green used a 9-3 run to pull ahead and never surrendered that advantage down the stretch. The squad shot 41.7 percent from the field, slightly better than Dartmouth's 40 percent showing, but the difference came at the free-throw line, where they shot just 52.9 percent and were outscored, 19-9. Leland King tallied 18 points and eight rebounds, Sean McGonagill stuffed the stat sheet with 16 points, 10 boards and five assists, Steven Spieth poured in 12 points and Cedric Kuakumensah collected 10 rebounds and blocked five shots.
While its production falls short of Harvard's, Brown has still been impressive both offensively and defensively this season, as it outshoots its opponents from the floor, 43.4 percent to 38.9 percent, for a +4.9 scoring margin. McGonagill is one of the league's best players with 17.4 ppg, 4.1 rpg and 3.6 apg, while Kuakumensah is a mainstay in the paint with 8.9 ppg, 6.8 rpg and 3.0 bpg.
Having already cliched the league title, it's possible Harvard could let off the gas pedal in this one as it looks forward to the NCAA Tournament, but expect it to come out firing with the program's wins record within reach.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Harvard 70, Brown 66
03/08 11:40:16 ET