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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.