Matchups To Watch in February

Published by Daniel A. Grafstein on February 05, 2012 at 6:24PM

February may be the shortest calendar month, but it is not lacking in the big-game department. Here is a look at some of the games that could make or break seasons for squads with big postseason aspirations.

February 6 and February 13: Men’s Ice Hockey in Beanpot tournament

The Beanpot is the pinnacle of collegiate athletic traditions in a town that has been dubbed Sportstown USA. Since 1952, Harvard, Boston College, Boston University, and Northeastern have come together on the first two Monday nights in February to showcase their game on the biggest stage Boston has to offer, TD Garden. The Crimson, which has been crowned champion 10 times in the history of the tournament, will face off against 29-time champion No. 3 Boston University at 5 p.m. on Feb. 6. Win or lose, Harvard will play a second round game on Feb. 13. Can the Crimson keep its six-game point streak alive? Tune in to find out.

Note: The women’s consolation game will take place on Feb. 7 against Boston College at 5 p.m.

February 10 and February 25: Men’s Basketball vs. Penn

This home and home series should prove pivotal in an uncharacteristically strong Ivy League this year. Penn and No. 23 Harvard are the two remaining undefeated teams in the conference, so both games will have major implications. Harvard escaped Penn in overtime last season behind a clutch lay-up from co-captain Oliver McNally and strong overall play from then-sophomore Kyle Casey and co-captain Keith Wright. Don’t look for a similar result this year as the Crimson, a more deep and mature team, has not given up more than 70 points in a single game this season. The backcourt will however have its hands full with Zack Rosen, who leads all Ivy League point guards with 18.8 points per game.

February 11: Women’s Basketball at Princeton

How about a little love for the women’s basketball team? Despite losing key prospect Temi Fagbenle due to a technicality, the Crimson currently sits at 4-1 in Ivy play. The only conference blemish so far is a loss to Yale at home after surrendering a 10-point halftime lead. The Crimson will likely go into the match against undefeated Princeton on a four-game winning streak (depending on Friday night’s game with Penn). The matchup to watch is junior forward Emma Golen and Princeton’s Niveen Rasheed, who leads the Tigers with 16.7 points per game and 172 total rebounds. Plus, it’s a rivalry game, so watch out!

February 12: Men’s and Women’s Squash at Yale

In a large part of the country, it is unheard of to have a set of squash matches at the top of anybody’s must-see list. But here in Cambridge, we do things a little differently.

With its victory over Trinity, then-No. 2 Yale snapped a 252-match winning streak that was unparalleled in the history of intercollegiate athletics. And although the Bulldogs recently dropped a match to No. 3 Princeton, Harvard still has a daunting task ahead of it in a league showing more parity than ever before. This match should be fun for all involved.

On the women's side, the roles are reversed. The No. 1  Crimson has dropped just 11 individual matches on the way to a perfect season so far, and undefeated, second-ranked Yale will have to settle for the slight underdog role. But let's not forget that the Bulldogs squashed Harvard's dreams of a second straight national championship at the end of last season. One thing's for sure: this contest is sure to be a dogfight.

February 18: Men’s Basketball v. Yale

This game was supposed to be the headliner last month as well when Harvard came into a hostile Payne Whitney Gymnasium. But the battle turned into the biggest blow to Yale’s spirits since Harvard destroyed Yale, 45-7, in The Game (honorable mention to women’s hockey, which also beat up on the Bulldogs by a score of 8-0 on the same night as the basketball game). But hey, you never know. Yale’s big men, Greg Mangano and Jeremiah Kreisberg, could show up like they were supposed to the first time.