By Justin Tetreault & Paul Seaver (TheArenaPulse)
For the first time in program history, Harvard is out to defend an Ivy League championship.
Harvard shared the conference title with Princeton last season, and their road to repeating as Ivy League champs begins tonight at Lavieties Pavilion, as the Crimson prepare to host MIT.
The 2011-12 campaign opens up off a historic season that culminates the team’s goals this year. Harvard has not made the NCAA Tournament since 1946, a mark that sits as one of college basketball’s longest droughts.
The Crimson enter tonight’s action riding a program-best 17-game home winning streak. Harvard’s last home loss came on Feb. 19, 2009, when Harvard fell to conference-rival Cornell. Cornell was a representative of the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16 that same season.
It has been 620 days since Harvard’s last home loss. The Crimson are coming off a season in which they secured 12 conference victories, a program record that surpassed the 1970-71 squad that won 11 games in the Ivy League.
The Crimson finished 23-7 overall and 12-2 in the Ivy League in 2010-11. A plethora of returning talent includes their top nine scorers from a season ago, raising the expectations in Cambridge this season.
Head coach Tommy Amaker will certainly keep his players in line while maintaining the intensity that brought them a title last season. Amaker enters his fifth season as head coach of the Crimson, entering the year with an overall record of 243-189.
As for MIT, the Engineers had a successful season a year ago, finishing 20-9 overall. The Division III-institution should serve as a warm-up game for the Crimson in tonight’s season opener, as the pair meet yet again. Harvard defeated MIT 88-54 last season.
MIT head coach Larry Anderson enters his 17th season in charge of the Engineers, making him the second longest-tenured coach in the school’s history. Anderson is the school’s winningest head coach, entering the year with 101 wins overall.
The all-time series between Harvard and MIT has been one sided to say the least. The Crimson own a 48-9 winning advantage, entering the season having won the last eight meetings. In the past two match-ups the Engineers have been outscored by an average of 28 points.
Harvard ended last season in the NIT, falling to Oklahoma State behind a 13-point outing from Kyle Casey. Defending Ivy League Player of the Year, Keith Wright added 10 points in the team’s season-ending defeat.
- Harvard leads the all-time series vs. MIT, 48-9.
- Harvard enters the 2011-12 season as the preseason favorite in the Ivy League.
- Harvard defeated MIT 88-54 last season.
- Harvard enters the season with a 17-game home winning streak.
- Harvard has won eight consecutive meetings against MIT.
- Harvard has not made the NCAA Tournament since 1946.
- Harvard returns all five starters from a season ago, including their top nine scorers overall.
- Harvard enters the season off a program-best 23 wins a year ago.
- MIT was a 2011 representative of the Division III NCAA Tournament.
- Keith Wright returns as the defending Ivy League Player of the Year.
- Keith Wright and Oliver McNally return as the team’s co-captains for the second straight season.
Players to Watch:
- Keith Wright (Harvard): Wright is the defending Ivy League Player of the Year after averaging 14.8 points and 8.3 rebounds per game in 2011-12.
- Kyle Casey (Harvard): The junior forward enters the season with very high expectations. Casey’s athleticism has his pinned as one of the top performers in the conference heading into the season.
- Noel Hollingsworth (MIT): Hollingsworth averaged 15.5 points and 7.3 rebounds per game last season, securing numerous credentials across the Division III landscape.
- Christian Webster (Harvard): Webster returns in the Crimson’s starting lineup this season. He scored 22 points, while dishing out ten assists in Harvard’s victory over MIT last season.
Harvard and MIT will open up the 2011-12 season at 7:00pm EST in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Harvard will hit the road next week, when they travel to Holy Cross on Tuesday, Nov. 15.
Harvard does not return home again until Sunday, Dec. 4, when they host Seattle.
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