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2013 NCAA Tournament: Arizona vs. Harvard Preview

With Harvard, Arizona finds itself against a team that is very similar to their last opponent. The Crimson are undersized and shoot the ball very well from distance. Can the Wildcats send Cinderella home from the Ball?

Mark Lyons and the Arizona Wildcats advanced to face the Harvard Crimson.
Mark Lyons and the Arizona Wildcats advanced to face the Harvard Crimson.

Who: 6 Arizona Wildcats (26-7) vs. 14 Harvard Crimson (20-9)

When: Saturday 3:10 p.m. PT, TNT

Where: West Region, Salt Lake City, UT

Why watch?

The Crimson are poised to become America's darlings - the smart kids that could - as they've already knocked off a very good New Mexico team. Can they stay hot and send the Wildcats packing? Arizona, meanwhile, is looking to advance to the school's 16th Sweet 16.

Who are the stars?

Mark Lyons, PG, Arizona

Lyons takes the lion's share of Arizona's shots even though he's technically their point guard. He shoots on 27.5% of Arizona's shots and for such, the Wildcats need him to make shots. When Arizona struggles, it tends to be because Lyons does. When they're successful, Lyons is a big part of that. He's on his farewell tour and as guard play often dictates March success, the Wildcats will need to ensure that Lyons brings his A game.

Kaleb Tarczewski, C, Arizona

The big pup has progressed quite nicely throughout the season. In Thursday's victory, he dropped 12 points and grabbed 8 boards despite fouling out. He'll once again be integral in asserting Arizona's style on the undersized Crimson.

Wesley Saunders, G, Harvard

I'll take the easy route here and declare the Crimson's leading scorer (16.5ppg) as a star player. Worth noting is that the Saunders does so at a very efficient level (56% eFG). He accomplishes such by getting to the line, which he could exploit against some of the bigger, slower Wildcats.

Steve Moundou-Missi, F, Harvard

Again, taking the easy route here as Moundou-Missi is the Crimson's leading rebounder and biggest contributor (or at least close to it). He'll have his hands full against the very big Wildcats who outrebounded Belmont by 14,837. Steve is going to need to box out.

Key matchups

Can Arizona defend the three-point line?

This is what I wrote on Thursday about the Arizona-Belmont matchup:

"It's been well documented how poorly Arizona has defended the three this season. They've been allowing opponents to shoot 36% from out there while Belmont shoots 40%. This, my friends, is what they call a recipe for upset. But over the last three games in which Arizona has demonstrated marked improvement in their defense, they've yielded just 30% shooting from distance. As has been the question for much of the year, which perimeter defense will show up?"

Well the answer to this was "Yes" on Thursday and now Arizona once again faces a great three point shooting team. Harvard hits at - you guessed it - 40% just like Belmont.

Can Harvard continue to wear the slipper?

They beat a very good New Mexico team and looked comfortable and confident doing it. Can they do it again? Arizona is obviously a very good team with a distinct size advantage for the Crimson to overcome but Harvard proved they don't quite care about that sorta stuff. Thursday's win was the first tournament victory in Harvard history leading one to believe that perhaps Harvard is satisfied with that alone. But to wear Cinderella's slipper you can't let down. They've got to continue to grind on, playing their game and hitting threes (44% vs. UNM); the key component to any upset.

You're a Pac-12 fan, why do you want Arizona to win?

Keep the Pac marching! Isn't it fun to watch teams you're familiar with carry on? As the Cats and other Pac teams advance, it allows us to continue the dialogue that the Big East and Big-12 are overrated (I see you Georgetown, Kansas State, OK State, Pitt). Additionally, these Harvard kids are already set up for great success in life and do you really want to see more of this?


Like Thursday, Arizona is simply the group of bigger kids. They're playing focused and disciplined basketball and while I expect Harvard to shoot better than Belmont, Arizona's attack and ability to assert their own game is too much for the 14th seeded Crimson.

Arizona 77, Harvard 64