A dominant first half was all it took for the Harvard Crimson and head coach Tommy Amaker to cruise by Ivy League rival Yale and book their ticket to this year’s NCAA tournament.
Granted, Yale needed to win this and their final game of the year against Dartmouth, while Harvard would have subsequently had to lose to Brown just to force a one-game playoff for the trophy. That would’ve been a difficult daily-double, but it was still a possibility before Friday night. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, that long shot came up, well, short. Instead, they’ll be forced to watch the Crimson make their third straight trip to the Big Dance.
The Ivy League, due to the fact they have no postseason conference tournament, often gives us our first NCAA entrant of the year, and this season was no exception. Harvard, who has finished with the league’s best record four straight times now, had only qualified for the NCAA tournament once (1946) in their school’s history, and hadn’t won a single postseason game before Amaker took over the team in 2007. Since then, the Crimson has become the class of the conference.
The last four seasons, they’ve gone 47-9 in league play, one of the better conference records of any team in the nation, and they culminated their ascent in last year’s NCAA tourney by upsetting No. 3 seed New Mexico for the school’s first-ever postseason win. It was a crowning achievement that even this country’s most prestigious academic institution had to stop and watch.
In less than two weeks, they’ll have a chance to either duplicate or better that performance when March Madness officially begins and the Crimson take the court once again in the nation’s most prestigious tournament. Famous alums Barack Obama and Houston Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin will no doubt be tuning in, as will millions of upset-minded college basketball fans around the country.