Mick Cronin hadn’t seen much of Harvard.

The Cincinnati coach had spent his season up to his eyeballs in college basketball powerhouses. If it wasn’t Louisville, it was Connecticut or Memphis.

The Crimson didn’t pop on his radar until the NCAA Selection Committee made them Cincinnati’s March Madness opening-round dance partner.

“Actually, I hadn’t seen them play until Sunday night,” Cronin said.

He might not have seen the Crimson, but he knew enough about them.

He knew about the four straight Ivy League titles, the three straight NCAA Tournament berths, the five straight 20-win seasons, the six All-Ivy players, the eight straight wins the Crimson were riding into this tournament.

He knew that, brick by brick, Tommy Amaker was building a basketball factory at Harvard. To Cronin, the gap between Harvard and the teams the Bearcats faced all season wasn’t that large.

“They’ve got real players,” Cronin said. “They’ve got high-major players. They can play against anybody.

“If it wasn’t for two slip-ups . . . you’re talking about a team that would’ve been 30-0.”

That’s why the 12th-seeded Crimson came into their 61-57 win over fifth-seeded Cincinnati Thursday knowing they weren’t going to sneak up on anybody.

They were a year removed from busting up the brackets with their first-ever NCAA Tournament win against New Mexico, and they went from Ivy League afterthought in last year’s tournament to one of the most fashionable picks for a first-round upset this year.

With the spotlight on them — and, to a certain extent, the pressure — the Crimson delivered.

They took advantage of the Bearcats’ hapless offense, battled on the glass, and hit enough clutch shots to keep Cincinnati at bay.

On paper, it goes down as an upset — the 36th time a 12 seed has beaten a 5 seed — but it never felt that way.

The Crimson led for all but 3:57, advancing on Saturday to play fourth-seeded Michigan State, a 93-78 winner over 13th-seeded Delaware.

“In college basketball, you look around, and I’ve heard this before, that there aren’t upsets anymore,” said Amaker. “There may be surprises, but I just think when you’re looking at seeds and if you’re playing this time of year, you’re probably a pretty good basketball team.”

After the loss, Cronin threw seeding out the window.

“In my mind, today’s game was anything but an upset,” Cronin said. “They’ve got a great team. In my opinion, they’re one of the best teams we played all year. They did not catch us by surprise by any stretch of the imagination.”