There were a number of signs that made the Harvard Crimson a trendy, maybe even safe, upset pick following Selection Sunday.
It was the program’s most successful team since 1946. They were a 12-seed. Their opponent, the No. 5 Vanderbilt Commodores, had lost their last three first-round NCAA tournament games.
But despite a valiant effort and a pair of second-half surges, the Crimson were downed by the Commodores 79-70 in their opening round NCAA tournament game on Thursday.
Led by John Jenkins, who finished with a game-high 27 points, the Commodores showed they have strengths both up front and in the backcourt, holding off the resilient Crimson in the game's waning moments.
Keith Wright, Harvard’s leading scorer during the regular season and a first-team All-Ivy League selection, finished with eight points on just eight shots from the floor.
The Crimson were led with 20 points by Laurent Rivard, who was 6-7 from beyond the arc.
Despite being a five-, four- and four-seed, respectively in their last three NCAA tournament appearances, Vanderbilt was unable to advance past first-round opponents each time. They carried that stigma with them into a season that began with high expectations; while they entered the year as a preseason top-10 team, many fans were waiting until March to make their decision on this Vanderbilt team.
Even though it’s just one game, the Commodores passed a big test on Thursday. They advance to play the No. 4-seeded Wisconsin Badgers on Saturday in the third round of the East region.
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