The last time that Harvard lost at Lavietes was February 19, 2010, a 79-70 loss to Cornell almost two years to this day. Since then, the Crimson has racked up—after last night’s comfortable 69-42 win over Brown—26 consecutive wins at home, and they now trail only Kentucky (49 wins) for the longest home winning streak in the country (D1). In short, as Yale’s season lies in the balance tomorrow—Yale must win to continue any hopes of seizing an Ivy League title—the Bulldogs are traveling into one of the toughest road environment’s imaginable to make or break their season.
This doesn’t bode entirely well for Yale, who, after their 65-35 thrashing by Harvard at home earlier in the year, needs every advantage it can get. And while the Bulldogs are playing extremely well of late—in fact, both Yale and Harvard have identical 5-1 records since their January 27th meeting—the plain and simple truth is that Yale, unlike Harvard, has a severe lack of depth that puts them at a(nother) great disadvantage. Take, for instance, the fact that over the past 6 games, Yale’s bench has combined for 55 total points. In contrast, guard Corbin Miller and forward Steve Moundou-Missi from Harvard’s bench have alone put up 75 points over this span (the whole bench has combined for 118). This massive shortcoming for Yale would be, and has been, less of an issue against lesser defensive teams. However, as Harvard showed the first time around with its incredible perimeter defense, when things break down on offense for Yale—particularly from the guard play—the Bulldogs are left with essentially no help to turn to.
However, this game should be much closer. Both Yale and Harvard start four players from last year’s starting 5, and in last year’s meetings (of which the two split), the combined point differential was Harvard +2. Thus, for Yale to get blown out for a second consecutive game would be nothing short of a shock.
Yet, the Bulldogs will have to figure out how to get much better looks than they did in Round 1. Mangano did get his in the last meeting, scoring 17 on 8-16 shooting, and should be able to do so again (though his four rebounds were most worrisome). However, the rest of the starters failed to get any separation last time around—they finished an abysmal 3-16 from the field—and how they support Mangano offensively will determine tonight’s outcome. For Yale to stay in this game, Morgan will have to be able to move more effectively off the ball in order to get some looks from deep, Willhite will have to create good shots for himself, and Kreisberg will have to play big around the basket. If this trio fails to execute these concepts, Yale could be looking at a similar result to that of the first contest.
ESPN storylines also bode poorly for Yale in this one. When Harvard began its home winning streak, the third of those wins was a 78-58 blowout against Yale on February 27, a game in which then-senior, now-best-point-guard-in-the-
I have faith that the Bulldogs will play a much better game and make this one closer than Harvard would like. However, the spirit of Lin will lead the Crimson to a season sweep and put them a step closer to the Ivy League crown.
Crimson 63, Yale 54