Harvard (24-4) at Columbia (14-14)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, March 2, 7:00 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Levien Gym (3,400) -- Manhattan, New York. Television: None. Home Record: Harvard 11-1, Columbia 7-5. Away Record: Harvard 10-3, Columbia 5-9. Neutral Record: Harvard 3-0, Columbia 2-0. Conference Record: Harvard 10-2, Columbia 3-9. Series Record: Columbia leads, 93-74.
GAME NOTES: Hitting the road for their final regular-season games of 2011-12, the Harvard Crimson make their way to New York tonight to tangle with the Columbia Lions in Ivy League action at Levien Gym.
Harvard, which has already set a new program record for wins in a season with 24, saw a 28-game home win streak come to an end last weekend as the team bowed to the Penn Quakers by a single point, 55-54. The loss snapped a two- game win streak and was just the second setback since Jan. 4. With a league mark of 10-2, Harvard leads the way in the Ivy, but by no means does the squad have the title already wrapped up.
As for the Lions, the last three weeks have been difficult for them with five straight setbacks. Last Saturday, the team was beaten down by the Brown Bears in a 94-78 final, the squad's sixth setback in seven outings. The defeat was also surprising given that Columbia defeated Brown in the first meeting of the season by an 86-60 score at home.
The Lions lead the all-time series with Harvard by a count of 93-74, but the Crimson have won six of the last seven matchups, including a season sweep in each of the past two campaigns. Harvard won the first meeting this season at home early last month by a score of 57-52.
Against Penn at Lavietes Pavilion last weekend, the Crimson went from shooting 58.8 percent from the floor in the first half to a mere 6-of-19 (.316) after the break, including 0-of-6 behind the three-point line. Kyle Casey was the only starter to score in double figures for Harvard with a team-best 12 points, adding a team-high six rebounds as well, but he also suffered five of the unit's 20 turnovers. Wesley Saunders came off the bench to drop in 10 points as he connected on 5-of-6 shots from the floor. In conference this season, the Crimson are scoring just 62.7 ppg, but believe it or not that still leaves the program with a scoring advantage of almost 11 points per game. The defense is holding the competition to only 38.6 percent from the field and that has left those squads with a mere 51.9 ppg, so having only one double-digit scorer in Casey (11.1 ppg) isn't all that bad really.
The Lions fell behind immediately against Brown on the road last weekend, as the defense permitted the Bears to shoot not only 57.7 percent from the field but also 14-of-22 behind the three-point line in the matchup. Brian Barbour led four starters in double figures with his 18 points, adding 10 assists to register the double-double, followed by Mark Cisco with 15 points and a team- high six rebounds as the squad logged just five offensive boards and 25 total. Before fouling out Alex Rosenberg delivered 13 points, while Meiko Lyles chipped in 10 points. Except for the effort against the Bears, the defense for the Lions has been very strong this entire season, allowing an average of only 61.8 ppg and that has given Columbia a scoring edge of more than three points per game thus far. Barbour leads the way with 15.5 ppg and is also tops with 123 assists, his incredible 90.7 percent shooting at the free-throw line one of the top marks in all of college basketball. Because of Barbour the team is making good on 74.9 percent at the charity stripe, compared to 69.9 percent for the opposition.
If defense is the name of the game in this meeting, then expect points to be a valued commodity. As long as the visitors are the ones making the decision to keep the scoring low, expect to see Harvard come out on top.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Harvard 62, Columbia 56
03/02 10:42:04 ET