5. Cincinnati Bearcats (27-6, 15-3 American)-The defensive-minded Bearcats have taken on the feisty personality of their head coach, Mick Cronin. Cincinnati wins because of its attention to detail, defensive aggressiveness and ‘mean’ demeanor.
Forward Justin Jackson and his ‘mean face’ have become a rallying cry for the team and its fans. Jackson (11.7 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 2.9 bpg) was named the AAC’s Defensive Player of the Year, and he may be one of the best defensive players in the country.
Senior forward Sean Kilpatrick nearly won the conference’s Player of the Year award, but was beaten out by UConn’s Shabazz Napier. Kilpatrick (20.7 ppg, 4.4 rpg) is the team’s clear-cut go-to guy. He’s got the ability to take over in games, and could be the difference in Cincinnati’s NCAA Tournament run.
The Bearcats don’t shoot the ball very well, ranking 256th nationally in field goal percentage.
6th Points Allowed per Game (58.3)
21st Steals per Game (7.9)
10th Points Allowed per Possession (0.90)
256th Field Goal Percentage (42.7%)
12. Harvard Crimson (26-4, 13-1 Ivy League)-Can Harvard make a run in the NCAAs? Absolutely. This is virtually the same team that upset 3rd-seeded New Mexico in the Round of 64 last year, only with former starters in point guard Brandyn Curry (9.3 ppg) and Kyle Casey (10 ppg, 5.7 rpg) back from an academic scandal.
Five players average in double figures in scoring for the Crimson, led by 6-5 junior Wesley Saunders (14 ppg, 4.7 rpg), who is drawing comparisons to Jeremy Lin. Point guard Siyani Chambers is also among the best players in the Ivy League, and has the talent and chops to go off in any game. He scored 27 in a win over Vermont earlier this season.
Harvard is one of the nation’s stingiest defensive teams, ranking 13th overall in points allowed per game and points allowed per possession. They’re also one of the country’s best three-point shooting teams, stroking it at 38.7 percent. Senior guard Laurent Rivard (10 ppg) is one of the best three-point shooters in college basketball, at 42.7%.
The Crimson beat Boston College and played Colorado to a six-point game. They also lost to UConn by five at Gampel Pavillion.
Points Allowed per Game 13th (60.8)
Points Allowed per Possession 13th (0.91)
Three-Point Percentage 30th (38.7)