Prediction: MSU will pull away from Harvard in second half tonight
SPOKANE, Wash. — State News basketball reporters Matt Sheehan and Zach Smith predict the outcome of tonight’s MSU-Harvard NCAA Tournament game.
Ahh yes, Harvard — the king of academia and the birthplace of Facebook.
It’s hard to top Harvard in anything, and Cincinnati saw that firsthand on the basketball court on Thursday in their 61-57 loss.
Up next for Harvard is a team you can call, well, “the Harvard of postseason basketball.” This will be a tall task for the Crimson — literally.
6-foot-10 Adreian Payne is fresh off a so-so 41 point performance against Delaware, and I don’t see him slowing down too much tonight.
Harvard has a length problem, as their tallest regular players top out at 6-foot-7.
They have height on the bench, but 6-foot-9 Evan Cummins is the only big man that plays at least 10 minutes off the bench.
If you’re going to bet a friend who will score the most points tonight, be the first to say Payne’s name.
Harvard did do a solid job at shutting down Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati’s main offensive weapon, to a mediocre 6-of-13 shooting performance.
Gary Harris could be seeing the same defensive smothering, and it wouldn’t be out of this world to see him having a sub-par game on offense.
But MSU isn’t like Cincinnati. They have at least four scoring options in any given possessions, and Harvard will have their hands full trying to contain the Spartans onslaught.
This game might start slow, as Harvard plays quality defense, but expect the Spartans to start pulling away in the middle of the second half.
My random, specific prediction of the game is that Russell Byrd will hit a 3-pointer and end his day 1-of-1 shooting. The Byrd wants to soar in Spokane, people.
Next stop, Madison Square Garden.
MSU: 80 Harvard: 70
I’m not going to insert a smart joke here like everyone else.
Instead I’m going with the cliche saying that the Spartans can’t overlook the Crimson.
Don’t get me wrong, I think MSU is going to win and probably by a lot, but just going off of how Harvard played against Cincinnati and how some of the other lower seeds played against top teams, this isn’t going to be a blowout from the get-go.
Even Costal Carolina stuck with No. 1 seed Virginia for a while, before the Cavaliers pulled away in the second half.
The same will be the case in this game.
MSU has too much size for Harvard, Adreian Payne won’t have a 41 point night again, but he’s going to assert himself in the paint.
Harvard says they want to push the pace, but I think it’s going to be a much slower game than expected.
Harris might not have his best game, seeing as Wesley Saunders will shut him down to some degree, but Payne and Branden Dawson are too athletic and unlike anyone the Crimson have seen all year.
Harvard will keep it close for much of the game, but the Spartans have too much depth and will pull away in the end.
MSU: 69 Harvard: 60