Harvard has outgrown the chic label in the NCAA basketball brackets despite being picked to advance by President Obama.

The No. 12-seeded Crimson (28-4) were all business during practice yesterday as they prepared to engage the No. 5 Cincinnati Bearcats (27-6) in the second round of the NCAA East Regional this afternoon (2:10, TNT) at Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena.

“He really picked us? That’s good,” said Harvard coach Tommy Amaker. “I think we have been able to attain a level of credibility with our basketball program, but we still have a long way to go and we have bigger dreams. We’re very hopeful that we can achieve them.”

The Crimson were viewed a generational novelty in 2012 when they qualified for the tournament for the first time since 1946. Harvard lost to Vanderbilt in the opening round, but it changed the dynamics of the program on Amaker’s watch.

Harvard took the next step in last year’s West Region when the Crimson upset No. 3 seed New Mexico to become the lowest seeded Ivy League school to win an NCAA tournament game.

Arizona dispatched the Crimson in the next round, but Harvard was grudgingly recognized by the pundits as a real-time national program. The Crimson have won four straight conference crowns, the last three outright, and no longer feel the need to prove something against the Bearcats, who are making their fourth straight NCAA appearance.

“Coming to the tournament is always really exciting,” said senior guard Laurent Rivard, who has appeared in more games (121) than any player in Harvard history.

“But what’s different now is that we have tournament experience. Playing Vanderbilt was everyone’s first time in the Big Dance. But now, especially after last year, we have more tournament experience and it’s more familiar to us.”

The No. 5 seed has historically been a difficult jumping-off point in the NCAA tournament. Last year, No. 12 upset the No. 5 in three of the four regions.

The fifth seeds have advanced as a unit only three times in the last 29 years. That little historical tidbit, and Obama’s endorsement of Harvard, was dismissed by Bearcats first-team All-AAC guard Sean Kilpatrick, who is averaging 20.7 points per game.

“We’re so used to be counted out throughout the regular season that now it’s like second nature towards us,” said Kilpatrick. “We’ve been counted out all year, and look how far we have got now.”