The Harvard men’s basketball team released its 2017-2018 regular season schedule on Tuesday afternoon. The Crimson will be looking to return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2015.
The nonconference portion of the slate is highlighted by a Dec. 2 trip to Lexington, Ky., to take on John Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats. Harvard and Kentucky have never met. Calipari led the Wildcats to the Elite Eight last season and is projected to have another Top 10 team this season. Ivy League plays kicks off five weeks later when the Crimson plays host to Dartmouth at newly renovated Lavietes Pavilion. The second annual Ivy League tournament will be played at the Palestra in Philadelphia on March 10 and 11.
The unofficial start of the season will take place in just over two months, when Harvard hosts its annual Crimson Madness on Oct. 13. The team’s opening weekend of the regular season will feature home dates with rivals MIT (Nov. 10) and UMass (Nov. 12).
Following its conference opener on Jan. 6, Harvard will play its next five Ivy contests away from home. Makai Mason—who missed all of last season with a foot injury—will lead Yale into its Jan. 26 matchup with the Crimson in New Haven. Harvard will ship out to New York the following weekend to take on Columbia and Cornell.
Harvard’s rivalry with Princeton will be renewed when Mitch Henderson’s team visits Cambridge on Feb. 9. The Tigers topped the Crimson by a combined five points in last season’s two matchups and were the Ivy League’s representative in the NCAA Tournament. Home dates with Penn, Brown, and Yale round out a stretch in which Harvard takes on its three counterparts from last season’s Ivy League tournament in nine days. A trip down I-95 to take on the Quakers and Tigers precedes a Senior Day weekend that will see fourth-years Andre Chatfield, Chris Egi, and Zach Yoshor host Cornell and Columbia for the last time.
In addition to its showdown with Kentucky, the Crimson has several other high-profile nonconference matchups for 2017-2018. The team will travel to Fullerton, Calif., over Thanksgiving break to participate in the Wooden Legacy. Harvard’s first round draw in the eight-team tournament is St. Mary’s. Randy Bennett’s team went 29-5 last year and has won 20 or more games in each of the past 10 seasons. Following its game on Thanksgiving, the Crimson will take on either St. Joseph’s or Washington State on Saturday and could potentially play Georgia or San Diego State the following day. Harvard is guaranteed three games in the Golden State.
A particularly interesting matchup comes for Tommy Amaker’s team over winter break. The Crimson will travel to Williams Arena to take on Minnesota on Dec. 29. The Golden Gophers were a five-seed in last season’s NCAA Tournament and return several key pieces from a team that won 24 games a year ago. Amaker is no stranger to the Land of 10,000 Lakes, having recruited Siyani Chambers ’16-17 beginning when the former star point guard was an eighth grader. It will mark the first time that Harvard has squared off with a Big Ten opponent since the Crimson took on Michigan in December of 2010. All told, Harvard will take on five teams that participated in last season’s NCAA Tournament.
Harvard went 2-4 last season against the five nonconference teams that appear on its schedule again this year. One of the Crimson’s wins during that stretch came against Northeastern, which will host Amaker’s bunch on Nov. 30. Fellow Boston rival BU will make the trip to Lavietes on Dec. 21 while reigning America East champion Vermont comes to visit on Jan. 2.
Fans who are hoping to see Harvard play on the road would be wise to sign up for Amtrak’s rewards program. The Crimson will make trips to Worcester (Holy Cross, Nov. 16), New York (Manhattan, Nov. 18 and Fordham, Dec. 6), and Washington, D.C. (George Washington, Dec. 23) in the coming months. Harvard wraps up its nonconference slate with a trip to Spartanburg, S.C., to take on Wofford on Jan. 10.
Amaker’s 11th season at the helm in Cambridge will feature the Super Seven’s second act. The Crimson’s seven members of the class of 2020 all figure to see playing time in a rotation that returns Egi as well as juniors Corey Johnson, Weisner Perez, and Tommy McCarthy. The team also welcomes three freshmen in Danilo Djuricic, Reed Farley, and Mario Haskett. Harvard returns 73 percent of its minutes and 75 percent of its scoring from a team that went 18-10 overall and fell in a semifinal of the Ivy League tournament.
—Staff writer Stephen J. Gleason can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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