Harvard has traditionally been one of the worst Division I basketball programs - but that changed when Tommy Amaker took over. He quickly turned around what was an awful team and currently has back-to-back 20+ win seasons. Now he's looking to take them to the next level. Harvard last played in the NCAA Tournament in 1946. And this year's team is the one that is supposed to get them back. They're probably good enough to receive an at-large bid, but to do so will need a signature win. Beating Florida State in the semi's of the Battle 4 Atlantis could be the win they need.
Having played for Coach K and then been his assistant for ten seasons, Amaker learned a few things about how to run an offense. And his Harvard teams have gotten better each season, and have the potential to be top-20 this season. This is the best offense FSU has faced this season, and it's not even close. Here are Amaker's national rankings since taking over at Harvard.
Harvard is below average at getting to the line, but they make up for it by slowing down the tempo and getting great shots. So far they've converted 54% of their 2s, 37.3% of their 3s and 73% of their free throws. And while they attempt more 3s than average, they can certainly beat you on the interior as well. This is a solid, balanced attack which will be a great test for the Seminoles.
Defensively, they're not great, but they do two very important things well. First, they turn you over. And with Florida State's dominant interior every lost possession is huge. They defend the defensive glass at a high level, limiting opponents to 26.6% OR%, which is top-50 nationally. FSU is 9th in the country at rebounding their own misses (43.8%), so who wins that battle could very well win the game.
The star for the Crimson is senior Keith Wright - the returning Ivy League Player of the Year. A banger inside he shoots a high percentage (66.7%), is the best rebounder in the conference, and is the one player who can really cause a team some foul trouble. Another player to watch senior guard Oliver McNally, who - in addition to being the best free throw shooter in the country - can be deadly from three. He's off to a slow start this season (33.3%) but shot over 44% last year.
The game tips at 4:30 EST on Versus. Vegas opened FSU -3.5 (since has fallen to -2.5) and Pomeroy has FSU -3.