#768 Stanford University Cardinalvs.#767 Harvard University Crimson
Written by Chuck D
When and Where: Friday, Nov. 11, Mercedez-Benz Arena, Shanghai, China, 11:00pm EST (ESPN2)
Spread: Stanford -5.5
The Crimson and the Cardinal tip off the college basketball season Friday night in China. A season after reaching the second round of the NCAA Tournament, Tommy Amaker’s Harvard squad slipped to a fourth-place finish in the Ivy League conference and a 14-16 overall record. Stanford took a step back last year for the third consecutive season. They went from a Sweet 16 appearance to in 2014, to an NIT championship in 2015, to a ninth-place finish in the Pac-12 last season and a 15-15 overall record. The Cardinal lead the all-time series 9-0 and won the last meeting 111-56 in 2007.
Harvard has reached the NCAA Tournament four times in the past five years, but unfortunately for the Crimson, that one absence came last season. This year’s squad has been picked to finish second-place in the Ivy League in the media’s preseason poll. Senior point guard Siyani Chambers is back after missing the entirety of last year with a torn ACL. In last Thursday’s 78-63 exhibition win over MIT Chambers finished with nine points, four assists and four rebounds.
Senior guard Cobin Miller ranks seventh in program history 146 career 3-pointers. Center Zena Edosomwan recorded 12 double-doubles last season. freshman guard Bryce Aiken let the team with 17 points in their exhibition victory and is expected to see significant playing time this year. Amaker is 7-2 in season openers at the helm of Harvard.
After eight seasons at the helm in Stanford, Johnny Dawkins was let go in March. Jerod Haase, who won 80 games over the last four season as the head man at Alabama-Birmingham steps in as the new head coach of the Cardinal. Haase improved the Blazers win total in each of his four years at UAB and made the NCAA Tournament and NIT respectively in the last two years. Stanford has been selected to finish 10th in the Pac-12 in the preseason media poll and returns 10 of its top 11 scorers from a year ago.
The team comes into the season healthy, unlike last season. Starting point guard Robert Cartwight broke his arm last year and missed the entire season. Reid Travis only played eight games because of stress reaction in his left leg. Before the injury, Travis averaged 12.8 points and 7.1 rebounds. Leading scorer Rosco Allen has departed but a healthy Travis and Cartwight should make up for that. Also incoming freshmen Trevor Stanback and Kodye Pugh are expected to make an immediate impact. Dorian Pickens showed growth last season, averaging 15.5 points over the final eight games of the season. Senior guard Marcus Allen finished the year averaging 11.1 points and 1.4 steals but shot just 24 percent from beyond the arc.
Amaker has his team and they know what to do in his system while Stanford has a new coach and a team that needs to come together in the opener in China. This should be an advantage for Harvard early on but at the end of the day you can expect the Cardinal and their better athletes to pull away in the end for a comfortable victory.
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Chuck Dowling is a 30-something University of Florida J-School alum that lives in his mother’s basement. Just kidding... there are no basements in Florida (the ground is too moist). He has been in the “biz” for his entire adult life and specializes in NCAA football and basketball, as well as soccer, boxing, and MMA. When not writing, Chuck moonlights as a high school athletics radio and internet-television broadcaster.