Coming off of its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 66 years, the Harvard men’s basketball team will be one of the clubs featured in ESPN’s College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon on November 13. The Crimson will face Massachusetts at 10 a.m., on the Minutemen’s home court, as part of eleven back-to-back games included in ESPN’s 24 consecutive hours of televised Marathon coverage.
Both Harvard and UMass had strong 2011-2012 seasons. Harvard won its first-ever outright Ivy League title and returned to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1946. The Crimson finished the year with a 26-5 (12-2 Ivy) record and reached the Tournament’s Round of 64. UMass, which went 25-12 (9-7 Atlantic 10) last season, reached the National Invitation Tournament’s Final Four.
The Crimson and Minutemen have met 24 times previously; but, it has been more than two decades since the two schools faced off. In their last meeting, during the 1991-1992 season, UMass was victorious, 98-63, taking a 14-10 lead in the all-time series.
The two schools, however, have recently been working to revive the in-state rivalry.
“We have been in talks with [UMass] in the past years, but this works out better, because it’s guaranteed to be on TV,” said Tim Williamson, Harvard Assistant Director of Athletic Communications.
Crimson co-captain Brandyn Curry concurred with Williamson.
“Anytime we get to play on TV or ESPN it is always a great opportunity,” Curry said. “We really have to treasure those moments.”
Harvard returns 14 members from last year’s Tournament squad and will be led by co-captains Curry and Kyle Casey.
“We’re looking to comeback this season on a very strong note. This year, I think, will be a very special season,” Curry said.
UMass, likewise, is well-positioned for a successful 2012-2013 campaign. The Minutemen will return their top-four scorers from last season’s team, as well as all but one of their ten top-rebounding players, and Curry knows that the game will be hard-fought.
“I saw [UMass] a couple of times on ESPNU,” Curry said. “They are a well-coached team. It is going to be a very tough game. It will be a fun game to play. It will be a very fast, up-tempo game. I am looking forward to it.”
Harvard is among eight teams making their first appearance in the fifth annual Marathon event. UMass previously participated in the Marathon’s inaugural year of 2008, when the Minutemen lost to Memphis, 80-58. That same year Penn lost to Drexel, 66-64, in the Marathon—the only other time an Ivy League team has participated in ESPN’s opening slate of games.
The Harvard game will be the day’s sixth of the 11 ESPN televised games. The final two featured games of the day will showcase Michigan State versus National Championship runner-up Kansas and Duke versus defending National Champion Kentucky. The MSU-KU and Duke-UK games will be played at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
The schedule of Marathon games—which includes 16 conferences, as well as 12 teams that played in last year’s Tournament—is:
Midnight: West Virginia at Gonzaga