With the Harvard men’s basketball team’s 79-67 win over Princeton Saturday, the Crimson earned itself at least a share of the Ivy League title. But as soon as tomorrow evening, Harvard could find itself in sole possession of the Ancient Eight crown.
While the Crimson (23-5, 12-2 Ivy) concluded its regular season with Saturday’s victory, the Tigers (23-6, 11-2) still have one game left—a matchup with Penn in Philadelphia tomorrow night.
If Princeton comes away with the win, it will force a one-game playoff to determine the recipient of the Ivy League’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
But a Tigers’ victory is far from a sure bet. The Quakers (13-14, 7-6) boast a 4-2 conference record at home this season, with their only home losses to Harvard and Cornell by one and two points, respectively.
When Penn and Princeton last met at Princeton in February, the Quakers blew a one-point lead with 16 seconds left in overtime, falling 62-59.
That being said, the Tigers enter tomorrow’s matchup with confidence.
“I don’t think the game in the Palestra is going to be easy, but I’d be very surprised if we can’t regroup; I just think we need a passionate effort,” Princeton coach Sydney Johnson said. “I really like this team, and I like how they’ve responded to adversity—and this is plenty of adversity.”
If the Tigers come away with the win, the one-game playoff between Harvard and Princeton will take place this coming Friday or Saturday at a neutral court—likely at Yale’s John J. Lee Amphitheater or Columbia’s Levien Gymnasium.
“We did what we could do,” Harvard coach Tommy Amaker said. “We recognize that no matter what, we get a piece of [the Ivy League championship], and we’re hopeful that we’ll get a chance to play in the NCAA tournament.”
IT’S CURRY TIME
Trailing by 12 midway through the second half, Princeton made one last push to cut into the Harvard lead.
With 9:23 to go, Tigers’ junior Douglas Davis ignited a 7-0 Princeton run after cutting into the lane and sticking a running floater. Following a three-pointer from senior Dan Mavraides and free throws from Kareem Maddox and Ian Hummer, the Crimson’s lead stood at five with 5:24 to play.
With sophomore Kyle Casey—who finished with a team-high 24 points—on the bench with four fouls, it was his classmate Brandyn Curry who took charge of the Crimson offense.
Guarded by Mavraides at the top of the key, Curry used a screen from junior co-captain Keith Wright and attacked the basket hard. Curry went all the way to the hoop, where he was met by Hummer and forward Will Barrett. Curry absorbed the contact, getting the layup to fall despite being fouled by Barrett.
Curry nailed the ensuing free throw, putting Harvard up eight.