- Photograph by Gil Talbot/Harvard Sports Information
The newly crowned Ivy League champion men’s basketball team is headed to March Madness for the first time in 66 years, automatically securing a spot among 68 teams who will vie for the coveted national championship.
The team made history last night after Princeton defeated Penn 62-52, leaving Harvard, with a 26-4 record and a 12-2 Ivy League record, in sole possession of first place in the final Ivy standings for the first time in team history. Had Penn prevailed, they would have been pitted against Harvard in a one-game play-in for the automatic NCAA tournament bid. Instead, this weekend, on Selection Sunday, the team will learn its tournament seed, opponent, and destination. ESPN’s Joe Lunardi currently has Harvard pegged as an eleventh seed in his bracket predictions.
Harvard players expressed their joy via Twitter last night upon learning they will be representing the Ancient Eight in the Big Dance. “Love this team love this journey…Tonight we dance!” tweeted junior forward Kyle Casey. Junior guard Brandyn Curry echoed his sentiment, tweeting: “LET ME GET MY DANCING SHOES ON!!!!!”
Last year Harvard tied for the Ivy League crown with Princeton, only to lose its chance at competing for a national title when Princeton won a one-game playoff with a last-second, buzzer-beating shot by the Tigers’ Doug Davis.
The Crimson opened the 2011-12 season 8-0, winning the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas in November by defeating Utah, Florida State, and Central Florida, and earning their first national ranking. The team won nine straight games from January 7 to February 10 to improve to 21-2 overall, marking the best start in program history.
Head coach Tommy Amaker, in his fifth season with the Crimson, said the entire men’s program is thrilled. “This is a tremendous moment for Harvard University, our basketball program, and our community. Go Crimson!” Amaker said on the program’s official website.