|SEAN MILLER VS. LOWER SEEDS
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Ivy League champ Harvard upset a higher seed in this NCAA tournament Thursday night, downing No. 3 seed New Mexico 68-62 in Salt Lake City. It is the Crimson’s first victory in its NCAA tournament history.
The 14th-seeded Crimson now face another higher seed, No. 6 Arizona, on Saturday.
“The happiest people are the people from my state, Arizona,” former Phoenix Suns star Charles Barkley said on the TBS studio set after the game.
The Wildcats took care of business against No. 11 seed Belmont, a trendy upset pick gone bad, with an 81-64 win over the Bruins. Arizona coach Sean Miller, in his ninth year as a head coach, is now 7-0 against lower-seeded opponents in the NCAA tournament dating back to his Xavier days.
Arizona, 2-0 against Harvard, has not played the Crimson since winning 83-60 at McKale Center on Dec. 17, 1978.
“I don’t blame people for picking Belmont,” Miller said after the game, referencing indirectly President Obama and national media types such as Seth Davis of CBS and Colin Cowherd of ESPN radio.
“(Belmont has) a great backcourt. They earned the seed that they got. You look at them on paper and they’re scary. I don’t know if anybody relishes seeing them in their bracket. But we were ready to play tonight, and we rebounded the ball and did the things we needed to do to win. But it’s not extra. That’s what makes the tournament so great. The guys on TV have to pick one thing. The other guy is offended. The team they pick is happy.”
Harvard’s victory over New Mexico is the Crimson’s most significant victory in the program’s history. Harvard lost its previous three games in the NCAA tournament in 1946 (including a consolation game) and last year against Vanderbilt.
Harvard’s leading scorer (16.5 points per game entering the New Mexico game) is 6-6 sophomore forward Wesley Saunders, who hails from Los Angeles.
Saunders, from Winward High School in L.A., took a recruiting visit to Colorado before accepting head coach Tommy Amaker’s scholarship offer in 2010. San Diego State and USC also offered scholarships. Saunders was one of the top players for the traditionally strong AAU program, the Compton Magic. The Magic won 30 consecutive games in 2010 and featured the likes of Arizona’s Gabe York, ASU’s Jahii Carson and Baylor’s Isaiah Austin.
ARIZONA’S 20-10 CLUB
PLAYERS WHO RANK IN TOP 20 CAREER SCORING/TOP 10 CAREER REBOUNDING
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Solomon Hill is eight points from No. 20 career scoring leader Joe Noels, who had 1,409 points from 1976-80. He is three rebounds shy of No. 10 career rebounding leader Jordan Hill (no relation), who produced 763 from 2006-09.
Site publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner