With the best records in program history the past two years, back-to-back Ivy Championships, and a berth to the NCAA tournament for the first time since the Truman Administration, the Harvard men’s basketball team has brought a new energy to its fans and to Harvard’s campus as a whole.
I have a confession to make.
In the final minutes of Tuesday night’s game between Penn and Princeton that sent Harvard to its first NCAA tournament since 1946, my gut betrayed what I knew was best for the Crimson.
I started feeling bad for Penn.
It’s not that I wanted them to win, really. If last year is any indication, one-game winner-takes-all Ivy League playoffs aren’t kind to Harvard.
But unlike Princeton last year, I don’t hate Penn. Yes, I felt robbed after the Penn-Harvard game at Lavietes a few weeks ago, even if the charge call at the end of the game was right.
I really just respect the hell out of Penn. Which is why I think, in the waning moments of the game, as Zack Rosen took his desperation threes, part of me wanted to see the excitement of an Ivy League playoff.
As a fan, I would have been inclined to say that something as significant as reaching the NCAA tournament—something that hasn’t happened in the age of color television—happening hundreds of miles away from campus over a game in which Harvard had no control was a bit unceremonious.
And, as it turns out, I was wrong.
Minutes after the end of the game, after Princeton had sealed Harvard’s trip to March Madness, co-captain Keith Wright gave The Crimson an early front-runner for quote of the year.
“Oh my God, this is crazy, this is absolutely crazy,” Wright said. “You have no idea how excited I am. I’ve been running for 30 minutes, in the freezing cold, screaming at the top of my lungs.”
Now Harvard gets ready for a stage of the basketball season it hasn’t seen in a long, long time. Beyond my interest in what is actually happening on the hardwood, I’m really curious to see what happens to fan interest in the coming week.
On the one hand, I’m excited that the tournament is over spring break because it means that I’ll have the chance to actually go to the games. (Also, who doesn’t want to go to Portland, Albuquerque, or Omaha, right?)
On the other, it’s too bad that the Harvard campus won’t be able to enjoy the event together. I would be inclined to say that this is the biggest sports story at Harvard in a very long time, and to be honest, I have no idea how the campus would react.
I can go off of my Facebook newsfeed last night, which exploded with Harvard basketball celebrations and more exclamation points than I could easily count.
I could go off of the handful of Princeton sweaters that I saw around The Crimson building yesterday, as people evidently took to heart the old mantra that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”