Men's Basketball Preview: Columbia

Published by David Freed on February 28, 2015 at 3:41PM
Columbia Callback

The Crimson look to bounce back after falling to Cornell on Friday.

After winning eight straight games to grab sole control of the Ivy League, the Harvard men’s basketball team (19-6, 9-2 Ivy) laid an egg Friday Night in Ithaca. The Crimson shot just 25 percent from the floor and 61 percent from the free throw line, with its top three players combining to make just 13 of 43 shots from the floor. Harvard will look to earn a split on the Gentleman’s C’s road trip when it visits Columbia (13-12, 5-6). Below, The Back Page takes a look at the three main things to keep your eye on as Harvard visits Levein Gymnasium.

Playing For the Trophy: Arguably the two leading Ivy League Player of the Year candidates will square off Saturday night. Harvard senior wing Wesley Saunders, the reigning ILPOY, missed 15 of his 21 shots last night. He finished with nice round totals of 19 points and 11 rebounds—including a personal 6-2 run to bring Harvard within four—but was outshined by Cornell senior forward Shonn Miller (24 points, 15 rebounds, three blocks). Columbia junior guard Maodo Lo averaged 26.5 points a week ago in sweeping Brown and Yale, but similarly came down to earth in a surprising 84-71 loss to Dartmouth, making just four of 13 shots with four turnovers and zero assists.


Reassessing Where Men's Basketball Stands

Published by David Freed on February 25, 2015 at 2:40AM

After its thrilling come-from-behind win against Princeton, the Harvard men’s basketball team (19-5, 9-1 Ivy) stands alone atop the Ancient Eight. Joe Lunardi, who has had the Crimson in his bracket since Harvard won in New Haven, has projected the Crimson—which holds its fate in its own hands—to be a 12 seed for the third time in four years, playing Wichita State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Here’s what some other outlets have been saying about the Ancient Eight race as it heads towards its conclusion:

Ken Pomeroy: College basketball’s most famous statistician has the Crimson as the 67th best team in the country, roughly unchanged from previous weekends. Harvard was ranked in the top 40 early in the season, but losses to Holy Cross and Virginia knocked it down several rungs. Yale remains in the low 80s (currently 81) after losing to Columbia, which the model sees as the third best team in the conference.

Vegas: While I couldn’t find any source telling Harvard’s odds of winning the Ivy League—@ivybball pegged the odds of a solo victory at around 90 percent—Vegas online sportsbook Bovada gives the Crimson 500/1 odds to win the national championship. Oddly enough, it gives Georgia Tech the same odds but has suspended bets on that channel. Per, the Crimson has been a sloppy cover, going just 8-10 on the year and failing four times to cover spreads of at least nine points. 

ESPN: In ESPN: The Magazine’s latest issue, Jordan Brenner and Peter Keating identified Harvard as a ‘Generic Killer’ type of underdog for the NCAA Tournament. Grouped with Xavier, the Crimson was pegged as a tough matchup for Generic Giants Northern Iowa and Oklahoma. Lo and behold, the Sooners are the fourth seed in Harvard’s projected region.

CollegeInsider: Before the season, we took a look at whether Harvard would be the top mid-major program in the country if you stripped out “name only” mid-majors like Wichita State. The performance this year has not given the Crimson a credible claim to first, as Harvard ranks seventh in the latest mid-major top 25, five spots below Yale and directly below Murray State, Valparaiso, and Stephen F. Austin.  

Alex Biega '10 Nets Game-Winning Goal in NHL Debut

Published by Michael D. Ledecky on February 18, 2015 at 4:01PM
Alex Biega

Alex Biega '10

Alex Biega ’10 scored the winning goal and earned the first star of the game in his National Hockey League debut on Monday night.

The 26-year-old defenseman for the Vancouver Canucks became the 26th Harvard hockey alum to play in the NHL after learning hours before the Canucks’ home contest with the Minnesota Wild that he would make his first career start. Biega, who had played 313 games with three different teams in the American Hockey League following his graduation in 2010, made the most of the opportunity.

With less than nine minutes left in regulation and the Canucks leading, 2-1, Biega collected a stray centering feed from all-star teammate Henrik Sedin off the right boards and beat Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk through a screen with a blistering slap-shot.

Vancouver would go on to win, 3-2, and Biega’s even strength marker turned out to be the difference.

At Harvard, Biega served as the Crimson’s 116th captain in his senior season. The Montreal native led all Crimson defensemen in scoring in his sophomore year and was named to the ECAC All-Tournament team in 2008. Harvard honored Biega as the team’s most valuable player after each of his last two collegiate seasons.

Three other former Harvard players are currently playing for NHL teams: Alex Killorn ’12 (Tampa Bay Lightning), Dominic Moore ’03 (New York Rangers), and Craig Adams ’99 (Pittsburgh Penguins).

—Staff writer Michael D. Ledecky can be reached at

Men's Basketball Preview: Cornell

Published by David Freed on February 14, 2015 at 10:15PM
Seeking a Sweep

The Crimson goes for its first home sweep of the season against Cornell on Saturday.

A late jumper by junior co-captain Siyani Chambers catapulted the Harvard men’s basketball team (16-5, 6-1 Ivy) to its fifth straight win Friday. The Crimson goes for its 20th win in its last 22 games at home Saturday against the Cornell Big Red. Below, The Back Page takes a look at the three main things to keep your eye on as Harvard looks to complete its first home sweep of the year. 

Balance, Balance, Balance: Harvard coach Tommy Amaker’s favorite phrase, his team’s “bench and balance,” came up big for the Crimson against Columbia. Senior Jonah Travis had 12 points off of the bench, playing most of the second half and hitting a dagger jumper late in the game. Amaker has moved to a seven-man rotation almost exclusively since the beginning of conference play, sticking nonconference rotation players like freshman Andre Chatfield and junior Evan Cummins on the bench for the entire 40 minutes, making Travis’ efforts even more important.


Losing Streak Drops Men's Hockey to No. 14/13 in National Polls

Published by Michael D. Ledecky on February 12, 2015 at 10:37PM
Tumbling Down

Four straight losses, including one to rival Yale, has the Crimson in trouble of missing the NCAA tournament after appearing to be a lock earlier on in the season.

With three losses last week, the Harvard men’s ice hockey team is officially on the bubble.

After dropping games to No. 15/- Yale and Brown, the No. 14/13 Crimson sits 16th in the PairWise rankings, an objective metric that predicts selection to the 16-team NCAA tournament. The weekend sweep followed a 3-2 double-overtime defeat against No. 3/2 Boston University in the first round of the Beanpot on Tuesday.

Conference rival No. 13/14 Quinnipiac now leads Harvard in the PairWise at 13th, while St. Lawrence and Yale lurk just behind at 17th and 18th, respectively.

Harvard also dropped from No. 6 to No. 14 in the poll and from No. 6 to No. 13 in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll.  The team is 2-7-0 in 2015 after finishing the 2014 half of its season 10-1-2.

Coach Ted Donato ’91 and his team will look to halt their season-worst losing streak this weekend, when they host Colgate (T-21, PairWise) on Friday and Cornell (T-27) on Saturday.

No. 1/1 Minnesota State heads the PairWise rankings, followed by No. 2/3 North Dakota and BU.