Andrew R. Mooney
In its third-round NCAA Tournament matchup against Michigan State, the Crimson will be competing against one of college basketball’s best teams and a lineup full of superstars.
For the Harvard men’s basketball team, winning is becoming a habit—but on Thursday, it never looked easy. In a game in which every inbounds pass, every layup, and every free throw had to be earned, the Crimson did just enough to stave off a hard-charging Cincinnati squad, 61-57.
Now, as it enters its opening game in the NCAA tournament Thursday afternoon against Cincinnati (27-6, 15-3 American Athletic Conference), Harvard has a chance to re-assume the exciting identity of the underdog—and relief has given way to a different feeling.
The popular narrative of senior Kyle Casey, one of the two athletes publicly connected to last year’s Government 1310 cheating case, has reached the redemption arc.
The appeal of March Madness lies in its unpredictability. The odds of filling out a perfect bracket are worse than 1 in 100 billion, which you recognize to be true every year on the first Friday of the tournament when your surefire Final Four pick is upset by the No. 15 seed.
In a hotly contested shootout, Harvard (26-4, 13-1 Ivy) prevailed over the Bears (15-13, 7-7 Ivy) in overtime, 98-93, at the Pizzitola Sports Center.
For senior Kyle Casey and co-captain Brandyn Curry, this Friday’s Senior Night against Cornell might mean a little bit more.
It would be hard to find a more intense matchup, as the league-leading Crimson battled a Princeton team that, though it was out of the conference race, still clung tightly to its pride and to its 24-game home winning streak over its Cambridge rival. And as the final seconds ticked down at Jadwin Gymnasium Saturday night, the faces of the Harvard players wore an expression not seen in this building in a couple decades: big, wide grins.
After getting rescued by two football players, Touchdown then “walked back to the hotel alone,” because godless, marauding killing machines never require supervision on their trips back to continental breakfast.
On paper, the only big loss to graduation the Harvard men’s basketball team sustained this year was that of Christian Webster ’13. But paper can’t tell you much about heart or passion. Until now, paper never documented the departure of football player and student section leader Adam Riegel ’13.
The Crimson’s usual sources of scoring were not delivering, and stepping into the void was freshman forward Zena Edosomwan, whose contributions on the night illuminated both how far he had come since the beginning of the season and how much could be in store for his Harvard career.
At this week’s media conference, Saunders’ numbers prompted an interesting comparison to the last Harvard player to record such a stat line: that sacred object of Crimson reverence, Jeremy Lin '10.
The conference’s two best teams delivered a game worthy of its billing that saw the Crimson solidify its spot at the top of the league standings.
In its final non-conference game of the season, the Harvard men’s basketball team (14-3, 1-0 Ivy) was undone by a shooting effort as cold as the weather it left behind in Cambridge, falling in an upset at Florida Atlantic (7-12, 2-2 C-USA), 68-53, on Tuesday.
In an intense battle of Boston-area foes, Casey was the Crimson’s most efficient player, scoring 19 points on 13 attempts from the field and grabbing 12 rebounds to help his team outlast the Terriers in overtime, 79-68. From a three-pointer at the top of the key to a powerful finish of a late-game alley-oop, the Medway, Mass., native had his full offensive arsenal on display.