Originally Published: October 24, 2013

Daily Word: Harvard aiming for the national stage

By ESPN.com

Every weekday, Andy Katz leads a panel of our college hoops experts in a discussion of the biggest issues, trends and themes happening in and around college basketball.

1. Harvard was picked to win the Ivy League. But where does it reside on the national college landscape?

Andy Katz: Harvard isn't Gonzaga or Butler or even Davidson -- yet. The Crimson have a chance, though, to join a group of schools outside the power leagues that can consistently be relevant in March. Harvard took the first step with a win in the NCAA tournament last season, but now the stage is set for a Sweet 16 appearance to raise the bar even higher.

Siyani Chambers
Harry How/Getty ImagesHarvard is the class of the Ivy. But can it make some national noise?

Dana O'Neil: I'd put them in Cambridge, Mass. Oh right, for basketball purposes. Well I do think that the Crimson are more than just the fun little upstart for the season. With Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry back on a team that overachieved last season, Harvard is a legit team to be reckoned with.

Myron Medcalf: I think Harvard is the team that your favorite high major doesn't want to see anytime soon. Curry and Casey rejoin a Crimson squad that was good enough to beat New Mexico in the NCAA tournament last year. Plus, Siyani Chambers is one of the top young point guards in the country. Harvard is dangerous.

2. What team, other than Harvard, that came in outside the top 25 in the coaches' poll could make an early move?

Andy Katz: Boise State. The Broncos have one of the most experienced rosters in the country and will be on the big-boy stage at Kentucky on Dec. 10. Boise State should be the favorite in the Diamond Head Classic in late December, too. Don't be surprised to see the Broncos ranked at some point this season.

Boise State
Matt Ryerson/USA TODAY SportsIs Boise State the team to make an early run and get into the top 25?

Dana O'Neil: I was frankly surprised that Creighton wasn't in the early coaches' poll, so I'll go with the Bluejays. Doug McDermott will be on every player-of-the-year short list. Plus, with Grant Gibbs back, this is a very talented team that could work its way into the top 25 quickly. That game against Arizona State on Nov. 28 could be a big one.

Myron Medcalf: I like Boise State's chances. The Broncos return every key player from a team that reached the NCAA tourney last season and should compete for the Mountain West crown this year. Won't be long before Anthony Drmic and Co. are in the top-25 mix.

3. How much stock should we put in Iowa's preseason expectations?

Andy Katz: Quite a bit. The Hawkeyes weren't ready for primetime yet. Fran McCaffery has stayed the course with a core group that may lack star power for the NBA, but Iowa has requisite pieces to be a major thorn for every team in the Big Ten. Iowa should at the very least be in the NCAAs in March.

Fran McCaffery
Matthew Holst/Getty ImagesThe Hawkeyes have high hopes. Will Iowa and Fran McCaffery meet those expectations?

Dana O'Neil: I really like the way McCaffery has grown the Hawkeyes -- steadily and solidly -- and with virtually everyone back from a team that went to the NIT final, I'm buying Iowa stock. The challenge, of course, is the league that the Hawkeyes are in, but I think this is a team that can handle the rigors of the Big Ten.

Myron Medcalf: Plenty. The Hawkeyes have stumbled in the past. But McCaffery has never had so many weapons, so the preseason chatter about Iowa climbing the Big Ten hierarchy is warranted. It'll take a few months before we know if the Hawkeyes can actually live up to it.


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