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Cal MBB Preview 2019: Bears. Crimson. Haas.

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A battle of intellect.

NCAA Basketball: Harvard at North Carolina Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

A battle between academic powerhouses. East Coast vs. West Coast. Private vs. Public. Crimson vs. Blue. John Harvard, The Pilgram vs. Oski, The Golden Bear. That’s the matchup for this Sunday, as the Bears host the Harvard Crimson.

12 games into the season, the Crimson are the better team by most statistical measurements. Their record only holds a 2 win advantage over the 6-6 Bears, but rank just outside the top 100 in offensive and defensive efficiency. Compared to the Bears that rank just inside the top 200 in both offensive and defensive efficiency.

The Crimson are led by G Bryce Aiken, who use 34.3% of the offensive possessions. Aiken is the team’s leading scorer at 16.7 PPG. F Chris Ledlum is one of the team’s invisible facilitators, second on the team using 29.3% of their offensive possessions. G Noah Kirkwood and F Chris Lewis are the next important players, standing at 6-7 and 6-9 respectively. The two wing/forwards are the only other two players that average double digits in scoring behind Aiken. Lewis also leads the team in rebounding at a clip of 6.5 RPG. Beyond the four of them, the Crimson have a plethora of rotation players that have played minutes all throughout the season. They have played a total of 17 players so far this season. 17!!! Some interesting player ties to Cal are on Harvard’s roster. Former Cal WBB Guard McKenzie Forbes’ younger brother, Mason Forbes is a sophomore forward for Harvard. Also, former UCLA C Thomas Welsh’s younger brother Henry Welsh is a senior forward for the team as well.

The Bears do hold two advantages: 3PT shooting and allowing steals. The Bears are shooting 38.8% from deep and only allowing the ball to be stolen on 6% of their offensive possessions. Granted, they turn the ball over on non-steals at a rate of 14.3% which is 346th in the country. The Crimson do not gamble too much, only creating steals at a 10.2% mark The Crimson rank 54th in the country in defensive 2PT% and 39th in block rate. Thankfully, they rank at a miserable 304th in the country, giving up 36.8% from beyond the arc. Perfect for defense for Cal to shoot their way into victory. They’ll need to be firing on all cylinders from beyond the arc for the Bears to beat this stout Harvard defense and open up the interior.

Let’s get back in the W column.

California Rising.