Before Saturday night, I tried not to think about it. But at this point, there’s no way around it.
Harvard basketball is cursed.
Towards the end of March in 1946, the Crimson suited up and headed to Madison Square Garden for the eighth NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. In the first round, Harvard fell to Ohio State, 46-38, and the team was done about as soon as it started.
About three months later, in the bustling metropolis of Paris, France, an event far more significant took place. Early in July of 1946, the bikini first hit the shelves, beginning what is now the norm of women’s casual swimwear.
Harvard has not made the Tournament since then. Until recently, the team was rarely even close.
I am left to conclude that, for reasons I have yet to explain, the schism of the women’s bathing suit into two parts has kept the Crimson out of March Madness.
Yes, Harvard has fallen victim to the Curse of the Bikini.
Curses are, of course, nothing new to Bostonians. The Curse of the Bambino was only recently broken. The Curse of Eli Manning lives on.
But the curse which presently afflicts Harvard is of a different breed than what residents of Beantown are used to.
The Curse of the Bikini is much more like the Curse of the Billy Goat that has kept the Chicago Cubs out of the World Series for so many years.
Between 1946 and 2009, Harvard basketball had a grand total of 15 winning seasons. In the years that the team had any measure of success, it rarely even came close to an Ivy League title.
The Crimson has had its opportunities. In 1971, led by Fox NFL Sunday anchor James Brown and a set of talented recruits, the team finished 11-3 in the Ivies. And that was nowhere good enough to fend off Penn.
In the 1997, the team was 10-4 in league play. Nope.
For four seasons—2007 through 2010—Jeremy Lin played for Harvard. For those of you not familiar with Mr. Lin, he has appeared on the cover of Time Magazine and two Sports Illustrated covers in about 14 days, and more or less has singlehandedly brought the Knicks out of the dog house and into contention.
His best year? A 10-4 Ivy record during his senior year. The Crimson fell victim in 2010 to a Cornell squad that made it to the Sweet Sixteen.