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2019 NCAA tournament preview: Yale

Yale Bulldogs: 21-7, 10-4 in the Ivy League

Head coach: James Jones (20th season)

Key players: Miye Oni (17.6 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 3.6 APG); Alex Copeland (13.4 PPG, 1.3 SPG); Blake Reynolds (11.3 PPG, 44.2 3PT%); Jordan Bruner (10.2 PPG, 8.4 RPG)

Season recap: In New Haven, it’s all about Miye Oni. The junior guard secured 2018-19 Ivy League Player of the Year honors and has a shot to be the first Ivy League player selected in the NBA Draft this millennium. But Yale wouldn’t have gotten to where they are now without help around its 6-foot-6 superstar—the Bulldogs had five other players lead the team in scoring at some point this season.

Yale’s season didn’t get off to a hot start, losing two of its first three non-conference games. But the Bulldogs quickly turned it around, their only blemish a regular season sweep at the hands of rival Harvard that they avenged with a 97-85 victory in the Ivy League Tournament championship. And in that final victory, it wasn’t even Oni who stole the show. Instead, it was senior guard Alex Copeland who dropped 25 on the Crimson Tide en route to being named tournament MVP. 

This is only Yale’s second NCAA Tournament appearance since the 1962-63 campaign, the other coming just three years ago in 2016. But in that 2016 tournament, the 12th-seeded Bulldogs scored a huge upset win over fifth-seeded Baylor and nearly pulled off the stunner against Duke a round later. And if they’re able to come together as a unit next week, don’t be surprised if Yale shocks the world yet again.

How they make a run: Yale gets to the line just like it did in their conference tournament—where it shot 44-of-46 from the charity stripe—and the Bulldogs’ supporting cast diverts attention away from Oni en route to another tournament upset.

How they falter: Yale’s starters can’t find any comfort outside of playing elite northeastern universities, and all the Bulldogs’ opponent has to do is shut down Oni for an easy opening victory.