20. Harvard makes NCAA tournament
It was a season of firsts for the Harvard men’s basketball team. It made the Associated Press Top 25 for the first time and clinched its first outright Ivy League title since 1946, but the most notable of all the firsts for coach Tommy Amaker’s squad was that Harvard advanced to its first NCAA Tournament game in 66 years as the No. 12 seed in the East Regional.
The core group of Kyle Casey, Brandyn Curry, Keith Wright, and Oliver McNally vaulted the Crimson into The Dance last March, but Harvard advanced no further. It all ended quickly against Vanderbilt in a first-round matchup.
The Crimson, who went 36-5 to earn the Ivy title, trailed the Commodores by 18 points with 7:48 remaining in the game. Instead of accepting the inevitable, Harvard fought back—led by the lights-out second-half shooting from Laurent Rivard—and cut the deficit to 5 points before falling to the No. 5 seed, 79-70, to end the historic season.
“We just didn’t do some of the things we needed to do well,’’ McNally said after the defeat.
In the following fall, co-captains Casey and Curry left the team in the wake of a school-wide investigation into a campus cheating scandal related to a final exam.
Amaker, who came to Harvard in 2007 after being dismissed from Michigan and has coached the Crimson to 20-win seasons in each of the past three years, remained confident despite the roster setback.
“We believe in our system, our philosophy, and our approach,” he said before the start of the season.
Harvard is 6-4 this season, with Ivy League play about to begin.